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Matchup Winners: No Gray area in breaking this one down

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WHEN THE PATRIOTS RAN


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Giving the Patriots the edge in this matchup seems woefully insufficient. The Patriots didn't just own the advantage they owned the entire game based on their work on the ground. Right from the opening series it was apparent that the Colts didn't have the necessary size to withstand the pounding the New England offensive line was ready to dole out. Jonas Gray, the former practice squad running back, was the beneficiary of the work from the guys up front. He dashed and plowed his way to a career-high 199 yards and a franchise-best four touchdowns. He romped through huge holes and carried tacklers for extra yardage all night, and as a team the Patriots racked up 45 carries for 244 yards for a healthy (5.4-yard average). Shane Vereen (one carry, 18 yards) and Julian Edelman (two carries, 31 yards) also chipped in as the Patriots had an astonishing 33 efficient runs (4 yards or more, first down, touchdown) in 41 attempts excluding quarterback kneel downs. Dominance.  EDGE: PATRIOTS

WHEN THE COLTS RAN


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There's stopping the run and then there's doing what the Patriots front did to Indianapolis Sunday night. Ahmad Bradshaw was held to 4 yards on seven carries and he was the bright spot of the Colts two-pronged backfield. Trent Richardson also got seven carries but he didn't manage to pick up a single yard on his attempts. That's 14 carries for 4 yards – and the Patriots employed the same kinds of light fronts they used two weeks ago to stymie the Broncos running game. Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins continue to play inspired football as the lone "true" linebackers, and newcomer Alan Branch showed up in the middle and occupied space on occasions when the Colts wanted to run. Andrew Luck's 15 yards on three scrambles represented virtually all of Indy's rushing production, and the stout play up front forced the Colts to go exclusively through the air. EDGE: PATRIOTS

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASSED


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Strangely enough, despite the running dominance this was not one of Tom Brady's better nights. He appeared to be slightly off most of the night and even had some rare mental errors at key times. He completed 19 of 30 throws for 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions and should have had a third that was dropped when a pair of Colts defenders fought each other for the ball. He checked out of a run on third-and-inches late in the first half and floated an ill-advised pass toward Rob Gronkowski that was intercepted and that set up a Colts touchdown that allowed Indy to get back in the game at 14-10 at the half. He did make some fairly significant throws on third down, most notably to Brandon LaFell on a back shoulder route in the fourth quarter. Overall Brady was not quite himself but fortunately on this night he didn't need to be.  EDGE: COLTS

WHEN THE COLTS PASSED


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There were some occasional hiccups but considering the Colts entered the game with the highest scoring offense in the league this performance was more than good enough. Veteran Reggie Wayne got off to a hot start before Bill Belichick switched his coverage and put Darrelle Revis on him, ending his night. As the Patriots double teamed T.Y. Hilton on the other side, Brandon Browner tried to contain Coby Fleener after the Colts top tight end, Dwayne Allen, was lost to injury. Fleener dominated Browner and finished with a career-best 144 yards on seven receptions. But the Colts weren't able to get into to the end zone often enough, having to settle for a pair of field goals when it was apparent the Patriots were making it a touchdown game. Luck was solid for the most part, completing 23 of 39 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw a costly pick in scoring position and missed a wide open Donte Moncrief for a potential big play down the sideline. Luck was better than he has been against New England but the secondary still held him in check.  EDGE: PATRIOTS

SPECIAL TEAMS


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It wasn't anything substantial but Indy's special teams performed better than New England's on this night. Pat McAfee averaged 56.7 yards on his three punts and the coverage units limited Danny Amendola to a 2-yard average on his three returns, one of which resulted in a 1-yard loss at the Patriots 4. Ryan Allen's only attempt resulted in a touchback. David Herron had a 32-yard kickoff return and a 21-yarder that allowed Indy to open at its 32. The Patriots also had three penalties on special teams. The inimitable Adam Vinatieri connected on both of his field goals, the second of which came from 53 yards out. Stephen Gostkowski and McAfee each had four touchbacks on kickoffs – not much to choose but the Colts coverage was slightly better.  EDGE: COLTS

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