Tom Brady throws 3 TDs as Patriots beat Colts, 34-27: 9 things to know

Well, the Patriots didn't score 60 points, and for three quarters, the Colts not only kept things close, they played well enough to win. Then one of the most inexplicable plays in the 145-year history of football happened.

With 1:14 left in the third quarter, the Colts trailed 27-21 and faced a fourth-and-3 from their own 37. Instead of punting (Pat McAfee is one of the NFL's best punters, by the way) they opted for this.

Colt Anderson, who was tackled on the play, couldn't believe the ball was snapped. And neither could embattled Colts coach Chuck Pagano. The Patriots were probably shocked too, but they got over it; six plays later, Tom Brady found LeGarrette Blount for an 11-yard touchdown. The Colts, who had hung around to that point, were done for.

The Internet, meanwhile, had jokes.

1. Not a joke: Chuck Pagano's job security ... Which was precarious heading into this game. In fact, before kickoff, NBC's Michelle Tafoya reported that the reason owner Jim Irsay hadn't given Pagano a lucrative long-term extension was because of his inability to beat the Patriots. And another lopsided loss on Sunday night would pretty much seal his fate.

How lopsided has it been?

Good news: the Colts were in it till the end.

The bad news: that special teams play felt like losing by 40 points.

And while Irsay is within his rights to hire and fire whomever he chooses, Pagano doesn't make the personnel decisions. That job falls to general manager Ryan Grigson, the man who traded a first-round pick for Trent Richardson and signed Gosder Cherilus and LaRon Landry to multi-year deals.

2. Andrew Luck looked pretty good. The fourth-year quarterback missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, and he was listed as questionable heading into the Pats game. But after struggling through the first three weeks, Luck looked more like himself on Sunday night.

He finished 30-of-50 for 312 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, but didn't show the arm strength we've seen previously (NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth said that backup Matt Hasselbeck had more zip on his passes during practice last week). That arm strength should return, but the bigger takeaway is that the offense looked a lot better. It's not much -- especially in a loss to a hated rival -- but it's important to remember that the Colts play in the terrible AFC South. Even in defeat, Indy remains a half-game up on Houston.

The Colts couldn't stop Tom Brady and the Pats (again). (USATSI)
The Colts couldn't stop Tom Brady and the Pats (again). (USATSI)

3. As for the Colts catching the Patriots ... We've seen this movie before, during the Peyton Manning era, and Luck's best chance to best New England might come after Tom Brady retires (assuming it happens).

Put another way: if Irsay truly is considering firing Pagano because he can't beat the Patriots, good luck finding somebody who can.

4. Credit the Colts for being aggressive early. It's easy to forget since it seemed like it took place two weeks ago, but Indy's first drive, which began on its own 11, stalled at the New England 1. Instead of kicking a field goal -- and you ain't beating the Pats three points at a time -- the Colts went for it. And were rewarded with a touchdown.

5. Julian Edelman is much better with 10 fingers. After a nifty 11-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to give the Pats a 10-7 lead, Edelman was seen on the sidelines showing the trainer his sideways pinky finger:

Collinsworth pointed out that if you're going to injure a finger as a pass catcher, the pinky is the least important. You wouldn't know it to watch Edelman, who dropped or bobbled three passes and single-handedly (sorry) kept the Colts in it.

That was Brady's first interception of the season, by the way. He had gone 177 consecutive throws without a pick.

6. Even at 38, Brady has things he improves upon during the offseason. It's hard to imagine that Brady can find ways to get better but there's a reason he has four Super Bowl rings. After struggling under pressure last season, he's been lights out through five games this season.

And then there's Luck:

7. The Patriots offense is balanced. Edelman didn't do much after injuring his finger and Rob Gronkowski had zero catches in the first half (and just one target). But Gronk was a factor in the final 30 minutes, catching three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown, and recovering an onside kick to seal the game.

Then there was Colts killer, LeGarrette Blount. He finished with 93 yards on 16 carries with a rushing and receiving touchdown. As has been the case for a few years, Indy had no answer for him.

8. There were Deflategate jokes, of course. Which seem less funny given the outcome.

The man responsible for starting this all? Grigson, who informed the league during January's AFC Championship Game that he had concerns about the Patriots deflating footballs. And that fact led some enterprising soul to tweet this Sunday night.

9. As always, Bill Belichick gets the last laugh. Metaphorically, of course. Everyone knows Belichick doesn't laugh.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories