The Colts raced out to a 17-0 first-half lead on Saturday night and while the Patriots would finally mount a response in the fourth quarter, it wasn't quite enough as New England fell, 27-17. The loss ended New England's seven-game win streak and lands them at 9-5 on the season, while the Colts improve to 8-6.
Mac Jones threw two interceptions, while the Patriots' punt team had their third punt blocked on the season, one that was recovered for a touchdown as the mistakes kept compounding for New England in the early going. The opportunistic Colts put up just 277 yards of offense, but it was enough when combined with New England's mistakes, which also included nine penalties.
It was a disappointing loss for the Patriots coming out of the bye week, here are the key takeaways...
Colts galloping out of the gate
It looked like an ideal start for the Patriots, as they won the opening toss and deferred, then forced a three-and-out on the Colts' opening possession. The offense then picked up two first downs on their opening drive and it looked like the Pats were going to start rolling, but from there, things went downhill quickly.
The offense shifted into reverse, taking two penalties then a sack, and were forced to punt the ball back to the Colts, who then rolled down the field with an eight-play, 78-yard touchdown scoring drive, a drive made entirely on the ground, despite what was called a pass on the touchdown. The Patriots offense would again be forced to punt after picking up just one first down on their ensuing possession, but the punt was blocked and recovered for a touchdown that extended Indy's lead to 14-0 in the first quarter. It was the third blocked punt of the year, the most in the NFL.
The Colts would continue the momentum after a third Patriots punt, going on a drive that lasted nearly nine minutes and 14 plays. The Pats defense made a stand at their own seven-yard-line, getting a red zone stop as the Colts settled for a field goal and a 17-0 lead.
New England has rarely fallen behind during their win streak and this was a wake-up call in the first half, as the Colts' energy was exceeding that of the Patriots out of the gate and it was soon reflected on the scoreboard as Indy raced out to a three-score lead before halftime.
Mac interceptions bookend the halves
After a dreadful start and the 17-0 hole that came with it, the Patriots strung together their best drive of the game late in the first half, driving with determination as they looked to cut the Colts' lead before the break. But Mac Jones would throw an interception on third down from the Colts' 15-yard-line, keeping the Patriots from scoring a point in the first half for the first time in 89 games, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
After ending the first half with a pick, Jones would throw another on the first third down the offense faced on the opening drive of the third quarter as the adversity would continue for the rookie.
The Patriots' lack of giveaways was a huge key during their win streak and they knew coming in that the Colts were the most dangerous takeaway team in the league, but between Gunner Olszewski's fumble that luckily rolled out of bounds, Rhamondre Stevenson's fumble that was recovered by Jonnu Smith and Jones' interceptions, they still couldn't avoid playing into the Colts' hands.
Those were Jones' first two interceptions since the Falcons game, his third and fourth in the last eight games.
Pats show some fight
Despite being shut out for three quarters, the Patriots offense would finally put together a scoring drive that was capped off with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Henry. Henry emerged as the go-to on the drive, with four catches on the drive. He'd finish the game with a team-leading six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Then, on the ensuing Colts drive, Jamie Collins would get his hands on a Carson Wentz pass and tip it into the arms of Devin McCourty, giving the Patriots new life near midfield, down by 13 points. The Pats would have to settle for a field goal on the drive, closing the lead to 20-10 and passing up a fourth-down shot at the end zone.
The Colts ate up five minutes of clock before punting the ball back to the Patriots with 3:48 left in the game and again the Pats would move the ball as Mac found N'Keal Harry for 43 yards on third down and then Henry in the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
The team showed some resolve but the comeback would fall short, as Jonathan Taylor would cap the game off with a clinching 67-yard touchdown.
Patriots are now 9-5
The Patriots win streak ends at seven games, as they fall from the top seed to third in the AFC but can still maintain a one-game lead in the division even if the Bills defeat the Panthers on Sunday.
While the Patriots made a late run like they always seem to do, mistakes by the special teams and turnovers were too much to overcome for an offense that struggled to get out of their own way for much of the game until the fourth quarter. The sloppy play from earlier in the season came back with a vengeance.
Still, the team still showed the kind of fight they've shown all season and that is one silver lining takeaway.
Despite the loss, the Patriots playoff and AFC East division championship hopes are still very much alive, but the defeat will be hard to swallow after nearly two straight months of nothing but wins. As always, the Patriots will regroup and they must bounce back quickly with the Buffalo Bills coming to Foxborough next week for what is now a very meaningful rematch.