After scoring touchdowns on four consecutive drives, Bill Belichick's team took a 31-3 lead into the fourth quarter, and it was then that the team known for never letting off the gas pedal did exactly that. They let up.
Tom Brady was in the game as the Pats ran some stale plays that resulted in two quick three-and-outs, and Dan Orlovsky looked like Johnny Unitas for a few minutes as the Colts nearly climbed all the way back. Well, maybe not nearly, but it was close enough to hopefully make some people think, "Hey, you know how Bill likes his team to score a lot of points sometimes? Maybe it's to avoid situations like this."
But then again, maybe not.
Let's get into all the leftover thoughts from Sunday's 31-24 win over the Colts, which wasn't nearly as close or exciting as that final score may suggest.
–I saw The Muppets on Friday night and a high school play of Metamorphoses on Saturday night. Both were infinitely more entertaining than this Colts-Patriots game.
–I feel like a broken record, but really, why is it that opposing teams sometimes forget to cover Wes Welker. He's the 5-foot-9 dude in the slot. He runs a lot of routes that are 5-15 yards from the line of scrimmage. At the very least, you should put a defender on him to try to cover him, so that, you know, maybe he doesn't finish the day with 11 catches, 110 yards. Yet, on third-and-14 in the second quarter, this is how the Colts chose to defend Welker:
–So really, as good as Brady is, he didn't have to rely on any superior football intellect to win this one. He simply took the snap, saw an uncovered Welker, and threw him the football. Pretty simple stuff.
–Brady's day was made even easier, obviously, by Rob Gronkowski being nearly unstoppable. A pass to Gronkowski has officially passed "quick out to Mike Vrabel" as the most obvious goal line play call in Patriots history, but it doesn't matter. Nobody can stop it. The fact that Gronkowski is such a monster as a run blocker, and the fact that he stays on the field to block for the PAT just makes him all the more superhuman.
–For a second, I thought Gronkowski may have an outside chance to catch Randy Moss' touchdown record of 23. Then they (correctly, I think) changed touchdown No. 3 to a rushing play, meaning Gronkowski will need 10 touchdown catches in the final four games to match Moss. Maybe next year, though. Seriously.
–There was a minor eruption on Twitter after Gronkowski scored that third touchdown, with many folks claiming with equal parts conviction and surprise that Belichick was definitely aware of the record and definitely got Gronkowski the ball on purpose.
Well … duh.
Don't you remember Week 17 of 2007 against the Giants, or as it's come to be known more commonly, "Brady targets Moss 100 times until they both get their records." Belichick may think stats are for losers, but he's totally into records.
–Welker now has a 161-yard edge over Steve Smith and Calvin Johnson for the NFL lead and a ridiculous 18-catch lead over Jimmy Graham for most receptions in the league. Nobody will get real MVP consideration thanks to Aaron Rodgers' dominance, but Welker is somewhat quietly putting together one of the best seasons ever. He's on pace for 124 catches (second-most ever) and 1,671 yards (seventh-most ever).
–Statistics, though, don't always tell much of a story. Case in point: Vince Young and Orlovsky have now posted better stats than Brady in consecutive weeks. Young threw for 39 more yards than Brady, while Orlovsky gained 64 more yards. While a quick glance at those numbers might tell an alien that Orlovsky is better than Brady, the Colts' running an inside handoff for no gain on third-and-14 would say otherwise.
–Last week, for the Patriots-Eagles game, I watched it at a friend's house and we fit 17 people on the couch. Watching that many people try to squeeze on a couch was infinitely more entertaining than the Colts-Patriots game.
—Chad Ochocinco made a nice catch. Chad Ochocinco had a nice drop. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
–The standing ovation for Ochocinco might have been sarcastic, but then again … it might have been serious. I hope for everyone's sake it was a mock cheer. Getting on your feet to applaud a man for completing a simple task at his job would be a bit insane.
–I don't know who Nate Jones is, but the way he broke down and tackled Joseph Addai in the open field was impressive. Good for Nate Jones, right?
–I have no comment on Matthew Slater playing defense, because I'm pretty sure Belichick would never do that if the Patriots were playing against an NFL team.
–I have no delusions about my football knowledge or professional abilities, but I'm nearly positive I could be a better head coach than Jim Caldwell. My first selling point in my interview with Jim Irsay would be that I can speak, using sounds coming out of my mouth. I'd already have a leg up on Caldwell. Though if I'm not mistaken, it almost looks like he was speaking when this photo was snapped.
–I'll never stand on a soapbox and yell at fans, except for now: Adam Vinatieri should never, ever, ever be booed in Foxboro. Maybe a few years ago, when the wound was fresh, and you were still bitter, but now it's just unacceptable. He won you three Super Bowls, made 3 million huge kicks and was a cornerstone of your dynasty. And he's one of the most likeable athletes there is. The Colts were desperate and paid the guy 200 percent of what he was worth, and he'd have been a fool not to take it. It had less to do with loyalty and more to do with common sense. Don't be a fool. Don't boo Vinatieri.
Now how do I get down from this soapbox?
–I can't be the only one who noticed Vince Wilfork accidentally roll right into some breakdancing moves after sacking Orlovsky in the first quarter. If I was savvy enough to make those cool animated GIFs that everyone always makes, you can bet it'd be right here.
–This is the best I can do. Pathetic, really.
–If there were any nits to be picked, I'd have to take issue with Bill O'Brien calling for Deion Branch to run a go route up the sideline on third-and-2 near midfield. How many cornerbacks is Branch going to burn these days?
–I don't know why (it's probably my simple, simple mind) but I look at this picture of Welker and Aaron Hernandez and I can't help but think Welker looks like a ninja of some kind.
–The Colts are 0-12, as you know, and everyone wants to point to Peyton Manning's absence as the culprit. But consider this: Orlovsky went 30-for-37 (81 percent) for 353 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a 113.2 rating. Manning's QB rating against the Patriots since 2003: 96.3, 97.4, 121.9, 83.1, 93.1, 117.1, 93.5, 95.7.
Nobody would ever make the case that Orlovsky is half the quarterback that Manning is, but Orlovsky was good enough on Sunday for the Colts to be competetive, which they absolutely weren't. The Colts' problems go much, much deeper than Manning.
–That leads to the obvious question of whether they're tanking on purpose in order to get Andrew Luck, or at least the ransom they could get by trading away that first overall pick. I personally don't think so, because they can win a game or two and still hang on to that pick. Plus, nobody wants to be on a team that goes 0-16. Nobody. These are professional athletes, some of the most competitive men on the planet, some of whom won't be playing for the Colts next year, and some of whom might get cut and be out of the league by Wednesday. There's much more at stake for some of these guys than a draft pick next spring that might not even affect them in the least.
–With 1:07 left in the first half, Kevin Faulk was able to gain 13 yards almost entirely because the umpire set an amazing pick for him.
–Sorry, had to get that out.
–Before Sunday's game, my younger brother was playing a real, live working Nintendo Entertainment System. Watching him play Kirby and Double Dare and try for the first time to figure out how to get those games to actually work was infinitely more exciting than the Colts-Patriots game.
–Did you know that Duck Hunt doesn't work on flat screen TVs? Somehow, in the past 20 years, our technology has apparently gone backward. These are the things I thought about during this football game.
–If there's one thing that should never be forgotten about this game (because there's a lot that absolutely should be forgotten), it's that Brady was absolutely irate after failing to get first downs on his two fourth-quarter drives. At the time, the Patriots led 31-10, but Brady, in his endless pursuit of perfection, was seen screaming at himself on the way to the sideline as if the Super Bowl was on the line. It was yet another reminder that Brady's not like me and you. The only person in New England who might be cut from the same cloth is Kevin Garnett, who hates to lose, even if you were just running back and forth.
–I just love this picture. Two of the best of all time who have tremendous respect for each other getting a chance to shake hands. Maybe after these guys' careers are over, and when all this gets sorted out, maybe they can get an apartment together.