This defeat was decisive
For Patriots, all went wrong
INDIANAPOLIS - The Colts came away with a much-needed 18-15 win over the Patriots last night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"In the end the Colts just made a couple more plays than we did and that was the difference," coach Bill Belichick said.
That's true, but not the whole story.
The final decision didn't go the Patriots' way and neither did many of their in-game decisions, four of which undoubtedly had fans back in New England scratching their heads.
The first came three minutes into the third quarter with the Patriots at the Indianapolis 45-yard line. Kevin Faulk was stopped for no gain on a run off right tackle on first down.
The Patriots, though, challenged the play, asserting the Colts had 12 players on the field. They were denied and lost a timeout.
How certain was Belichick the Colts had used an extra defender?
"Convinced enough to throw the flag," he said. "I didn't see it, you saw it [on TV replays]."
The Patriots shook off the setback and ran another nine plays, the last a 6-yard run into the end zone by BenJarvus Green-Ellis to take a 12-7 lead with 7:12 left in the third. It was their only touchdown in four trips into the red zone.
The offense remained on the field as the call came from the sideline to go for 2 points. Belichick said he had made up his mind before the TD that he'd go for 2.
"It didn't look like this game was going to have a lot of possessions in it and it didn't," he said.
Faulk rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries, with the majority of his damage done on draws. This time things didn't go the way they were drawn up and Faulk was stopped just short of the goal line on his signature run.
While Faulk was able to stretch the ball over the goal line, his knee was ruled down around the 1, leaving the Patriots with a 12-7 lead.
"I thought I was in, but my knee might have been down," the veteran running back said. "That's the way they called it."
The Colts came back and scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession to regain the lead at 13-12. They also went for 2, but made it, with Peyton Manning finding Reggie Wayne at the back of the end zone for a 15-12 lead.
The Patriots answered with an impressive drive. They used 14 plays to march from their 24 to the Indianapolis 7, where they faced fourth and 1.
Quarterback Matt Cassel surged behind his line on a sneak for an apparent first down. But Belichick had called timeout from the sideline just before the ball was snapped, negating the play.
"We just ran the play and snapped the ball at that point," Cassel said. "Then I got up and saw the coached called a timeout."
After assessing the situation, Belichick sent Gostkowski out to attempt a field goal from 25 yards. He made it, his third of the game, to pull the Patriots into a 15-all tie with 11:33 to play.
"Well, we didn't get a very good look at the spot," Belichick said. "At first we thought it was fourth and inches. Then it looked like it was a little more than a yard. So once we saw what the difference was we thought it was better to go for the points."
After the Colts regained the lead on a 52-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri, the Patriots again drove into Indianapolis territory. But a costly unnecessary roughness penalty on tight end David Thomas at the end of the play knocked the Patriots out of a third-and-1 at the Colts 31 to a third-and-16 at the 46. A short pass to Faulk left the Patriots with a fourth-and-15 with 4:40 left.
The Patriots opted not to punt.
"We didn't have any timeouts so we were going to have to stop them one way or the other," Belichick said.
Cassel threw a pass down the middle intended for tight end Benjamin Watson. But safety Bob Sanders intercepted the overthrown pass at the 25 to effectively seal the win.
"I was just trying to get someone an opportunity and I had to get the ball off pretty quickly," Cassel said.