FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots won an interesting game Sunday against the Colts, holding onto a 31-24 victory after building a 31-3 lead in the fourth quarter.
For the most part, it should have been a gratifying win for the Patriots, but they'll be harping on a finishing mantra all week as they prepare for the Redskins.
Let's break out the grades.
Jeff Howe: B+
After the slow start, Tom Brady and the offense had a field day with the Colts' defense, which was lost throughout the game. But leave it to Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker to expose some glaring weaknesses in Indy's zone coverage.
Jeff Howe: C
The defense showed some good things when it mattered in the first three quarters, which says a lot considering they had three new starters in the mix. And while the shift to a prevent philosophy is more on coaching than the players, the lack of execution on those two long touchdowns was ugly.
Jeff Howe: B
Nothing great, nothing bad. Julian Edelman regained his kick return duty and brought back two kicks for a total of 46 yards. It's the first time he's done that in four weeks.
Jeff Howe: B
Bill Belichick's message definitely filtered down to his team this week, and there's no doubt the Patriots got up for the Colts, despite their slow start on offense. But Belichick shouldn't be absolved from blame with the fourth-quarter issues, as the Patriots relaxed their defensive coverages, which helped the Colts generate that late momentum.
Jeff Howe: C+
The Colts' defense was atrocious, both in scheme and execution, but there's a lot to be said for a team that never quits.
Jeff Howe: Tight end Rob Gronkowski
Forget the three touchdowns for a second. The most amazing thing he did Sunday was his lone spike, when he slammed the ball to the turf so hard that it bounced 31 yards up the field.
Jeff Howe: Center Nick McDonald
The second-year offensive lineman started a day after being promoted from the practice squad, and it was the first time he had ever played in a game. And McDonald received some high reviews from his teammates after the game.