FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- The New England Patriots were subdued
after their first victory of the season. They already had more fun
than they could have expected against the NFL's highest scoring
The Patriots used the Colts' own approach, a big first half and
touchdowns on Peyton Manning's passes, to beat Indianapolis 44-13
"We haven't done anything," Patriots linebacker Bryan Cox
said. "I don't come out and do what I'm supposed to do and think,
all of a sudden, I'm great."
"It was almost a must-win situation," Patriots cornerback Ty
Law said. "From the first whistle, we went out there to hit them
and smack them in the mouth."
Law returned an interception for a 23-yard touchdown and Otis
Smith brought another back 78 yards for a score as Manning threw
three to bring his total to seven in three games. He also threw his
seventh touchdown pass, a 17-yarder to Marcus Pollard that made it
"I don't think anyone on our team played well or coached
well," Colts coach Jim Mora said. "Their play didn't surprise
What can possibly explain this outcome?
This is the fourth straight game Peyton Manning has lost in Foxboro. If a
good team turns the ball over and gets down early, things can snowball --
and that's what happened to the Colts. Instead of making plays, they were
dropping balls and turning it over. When they got so far behind, Edgerrin
James was taken out of the offense because they had to throw so much.
As the game wore on, the Patriots gained confidence. And they were able to
run the ball effectively. Plus, give credit to Bill Belichick and the way he
designs his defense, because Manning struggles a lot with the Patriots' D.
ESPN.com NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player
personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.
"If we would have been able to move the ball on third downs
then things would have been better," James said. "But that didn't
happen and that's the reason for us not scoring in the first
The Patriots scored 13 points in the last 5:50 of the second
quarter and led 20-0 at halftime against the Colts (2-1), who
averaged 33 first-half points in their previous two games.
New England did it without Drew Bledsoe, expected to miss at
least two more games because of internal bleeding in his chest
following a tackle last week. He was replaced by Tom Brady, who
played well after being sacked on New England's first offensive
"You envision the things that are going to happen in a game,
all the possibilities," said Brady, who went 13-for-23 for 168
yards. "Never did I think it would be the runaway victory that it
The fact that Indianapolis had the fourth worst run defense in
the league didn't hurt. It gave up 177 yards rushing after going
into the game with an average of 141.5.
"Getting a chance to do something with the ball helped. I think
I carried the ball 22 times," Antowain Smith said. "It was good
for us to get something going early so that gave the coaching staff
confidence to go back to it."
The Colts finally scored on Manning's 10-yard run in the final
minute of the third quarter, making it 23-7, but the Patriots kept
They came back with a 62-yard drive in which a 38-yard
completion to Antowain Smith, the longest reception of his career,
set up Kevin Faulk's 8-yard scoring run and a 30-7 lead.
James came into the game as the AFC's rushing leader with an
average of 123 yards, but his franchise record of five straight
games with at least 100 yards rushing was snapped.
Law's interception made it 37-7, but it was the first half that
gave the Patriots the momentum they needed.
On New England's first scoring drive, Antowain Smith ran around
left end for 39 yards, then scored on a 4-yard run on the next
play. The Patriots made it 10-0 on Vinatieri's 47-yard field goal.
Manning then led the Colts from their 23 to the New England 26.
But Otis Smith returned his interception 78 yards for a 17-0 lead.
"People will probably be surprised," Otis Smith said, "but
the key is we weren't surprised. We know we're a pretty good
Harrison extended to 79 the team record he set in last
Sunday's 42-26 win over Buffalo for consecutive games with a
reception. ... The Patriots are 8-1 in their last nine home games
against the Colts. ... Brady is the fourth quarterback to start for
New England since Bledsoe was drafted with the first pick in 1993.
The other two are Scott Zolak and Scott Secules. ... The 44 points
were the most the Patriots scored in 78 games and the most the
Colts allowed in 48 games.