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05 Nov 2007

Audibles at the Line: Game of the Century

Compiled by Doug Farrar

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2008. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

We don't usually do two different Audibles columns in one day, but the importance of this game, and the nature of much of the discussion surrounding it, led us to believe that replacing the Irrational Pats-Colts Armageddon Thread with a special Game of the Century Audibles would be the appropriate next step. We're hoping it doesn't get too irrational, but we're not counting on it. Please keep all commentary relating to this game and any "ancillary concerns" right here.

New England Patriots 24 at Indianapolis Colts 20

Ned Macey: The problem with the pass interference rule is that it is just so uncertain. Great half of football, but even as a fan of the Colts, that's still the first thing I'm thinking of. If I were voting, I'd have called it on Asante Samuel but not on Ellis Hobbs, although I want a longer look at Hobbs' because he did run under Reggie Wayne. I'm not even sure that's a penalty though. In a split second, however, they are impossible calls to make, so I fear we'll have to live with the inconsistency. The Colts only got three points out of it, and there's no saying they wouldn't have scored a field goal anyway, so hopefully it isn't the difference.

The Pats are leaving their tackles one-on-one a fair amount. Wouldn't be surprised to see them go to some max protect and start making plays 15 to 20 yards down the field in front of the safeties.

Is Bob Sanders lining up in Evansville? The only time I've seen him was when he correctly diagnosed the odd-looking draw to Faulk but overran it.

(That was after the first half... this next part came once the game was over...)

It is hard to know what to make of this game. The two teams have played a number of close regular season games over the years, so it is hard to tell if they truly are two amazing teams. I guess I would vote that the Colts are a much better football team then they were several years ago. Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden just make the defense so much better. Really a shame for Jackson to get beat on the game-clincher because he was outstanding up to that point.

The Patriots offense appears to only be stoppable when you get pressure. In the first half, the Colts got pressure. In the fourth quarter, they didn't. Antoine Bethea was late on both the big plays, but Bethea is solid in coverage, and that, to me, is just a case of "outstanding" being better than "very good."

As a Colts fan, it is hard to be too disappointed. They played without two starting linebackers, their No. 1 or No. 1A receiver, and what proved to be most important, their left tackle. Charlie Johnson should take this tape and the tape of last year's Super Bowl and petition the NFL to classify him as a right tackle. His biggest contribution was picking up a fumble after he got beat for an earlier sack.

When Anthony Gonzalez went down that also hurt, as Aaron Moorehead should not be on the field every down. Also, it makes Dallas Clark a little easier to defend when Moorehead is the only other threat. Was Adalius Thomas on Clark as suspected?

On NFL Countdown, Tom Jackson picked the Colts and then later said the game was going to be won with special teams. Let's just say that was a highly unlikely outcome, and I wouldn't be surprised if DVOA saw this game pretty even in offense and defense, with an ENORMOUS advantage to the Pats on special teams. The Colts only started one drive past their own 24, and that was the Gary Brackett pick. Pats started one drive inside their own 24. I could be wrong because the Colts were also helped by penalties, beyond pass interference, that don't show up, but I know I'm not wrong that the Pats had a huge advantage there.

Vince Verhei: If I woke up tomorrow as the commissioner of the NFL, the first thing I would do would be to limit pass interference penalties to 15 yards. No more 50-yard penalties on questionable fouls. I think in the end each team got burned with a big penalty, so they never decided the game, but nothing annoys me more than seeing a team move halfway down the field without actually accomplishing anything.

I knew Indianapolis would, for the most part, take away the big plays from the New England offense. What I did not expect was the way their pass rush dominated the Patriots' offensive line in the first half. Don't know where that pass rush went in quarters three and four, though.

Bill Barnwell:Two things on this: The Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play. Anytime a defensive back was in a bad spot 40 yards downfield, he'd just shove the receiver down and take the 15-yard penalty. It would kill deep plays.

Also, when a defender commits pass interference, the offense HAS accomplished something. If it weren't for the defense committing a foul, by the nature of the penalty and the law itself, the pass would have been completed.

Michael David Smith: I really think both this game and the seemingly inevitable rematch come down to this: Which team's left tackle has the better game? Early today when Freeney was getting the better of Light, it looked like the Colts had a good chance of winning the game, but once Freeney ran out of steam and Johnson started doing just an absolutely horrible job protecting Peyton Manning, that switched the momentum.

Ryan Wilson: This is an oversimplification, obviously, but the Colts pressured Tom Brady and were physical with the receivers. That was why they were in this game until the last two minutes. I don't think the Pats expected the physicality, and for most of the game, they looked out of sorts. The problem for other teams on their schedule is generating a four-man pass rush. If you can't do that, it'll be a long day. If nothing else, though, we can put to rest all the talk about how this team can't be beat. They won, sure, but I don't think anybody expected the Pats to be trailing for 28 minutes. And the Colts were without four starters.

Doug Farrar: Is it just me, or is Rosevelt Colvin having an outstanding year? It seems that every time I watch the Patriots, he does something that just blows my mind. He did this ridiculous leaping stunt thing on Chris Samuels last week that I'd never seen before.

Bill Moore: Colvin IS having a stellar year. Last year was his first at 100 percent since his hip injury, and this year just builds on that. He admitted that last year he was just getting used to playing at full speed again. This year is probably the first year in a while that he doesn't have to think about it at all. Keep in mind that his free agent signing was as big in 2003 as the Thomas signing was this year.

Mike Tanier: Tanier, with Aaron to my left in the Lincoln Financial Field press box, chiming in with some stuff. First, on the Colts pass interference penalties in the first half, I am OK with both calls. The second one (the Wayne one) had some people howling in the bar we were at, but that call is made all the time in the NFL. If a cornerback runs under the receiver, lets the receiver back into him, then starts easing up, they throw the flag. It's a judgment call, because you can argue that the corner was playing the ball, but if the ref thinks he's just slowing the receiver down he makes the call. I see it all the time.

In the first half, the Colts' front four were just beating the Patriots' front five. The big difference in the second half, in addition to Matt Light and Nick Kaczur doing a better job on Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, is that Brady started running more quick slants to Randy Moss. They hooked up three of four times on quick ones and it neutralized the pressure somewhat.

Another late adjustment was running the flat route to Wes Welker against man coverage. Two major plays late in the game were flat throws where Welker in the slot was matched up on either Bob Sanders or Marlin Jackson, and Donte Stallworth or Randy Moss cleared out as the split end.

Bill Moore: Well, all week people asked me what I expected from this game. I said it all came down to defenses. I was right, but for the wrong reasons. I expected it would be the defense that made one or two stops that would win the game. However, the effective play of both defenses had solid games.

Light, who has had mixed success against Freeney in the past, was totally dominated. At one point, he threwa reckless leg whip just to try and contain him. Mathis had almost as much success against Kaczur on the other side. The Pats countered with lots of draws or fake draws that were only semi-effective. Brady had the least amount of time in the pocket of any game this season. On the other hand, the Indy O-line was more effective at containing the Pats' rush. But for the end of the game, Manning had lots of time on many downs. In the second half, the Patriots finally realized that Light and Kaczur were getting beat, and were giving them help -- and that seemed to make a lot of difference.

The Patriots' complete lapse of concentration at the end of the first half should be embarrassing to them. At the same time, it was a very heads-up play by Joseph Addai. In the AFC Championship game, the Patriots had no answer for Dallas Clark. Today, they held the answer on Clark, but forgot to bring one for Addai. He had a very impressive game -- even without the huge play at the end of the first half.

Brady came into the game with two interceptions. He had two today. The first across-the-field lob to Stallworth was just a dumb play. The second was an absolutely amazing catch by Brackett.

I felt that New England got the short end of the penalty stick. This is the third big game in three years that Ellis Hobbs has gotten called for pass interference on very good coverage on an important deep ball. I was very surprised at Moss' offensive pass interference. I admit that Moss pushes off quite a bit, I just didn't think it happened on that play.

Overall, the Colts played a marginally better game for three quarters, and the Patriots stayed close long enough to have a shot. The drive charts are a great chronicle of the game:

NE:First half: Punt, touchdown, interception.
Third quarter: Punt, punt, field goal, interception.
Fourth Quarter: Touchdown, touchdown, kneel.

IND: First half: Missed field goal, field goal, field goal, touchdown.
Third quarter: Interception, punt, punt.
Fourth quarter: Touchdown, punt, fumble.

Bill Barnwell: I think the Colts had a really smart scheme that anticipated what the Patriots would do following their loss to the Colts in last year's postseason. They knew that the Patriots would overcompensate, to an extent, in their attempt to handle Dallas Clark, and without Mavin Harrison, they didn't have their top wideout, so they lined their receivers out wide expecting one-on-one man coverage, and ran curls over and over again for 12 yards at a time. That should lead to the Patriots getting out of two-deep zone coverage and giving safety support on the sides, opening up space over the middle for Clark and Ben Utecht, but the Patriots just stayed in the same scheme and simply got more pressure on Manning as the game went along. Manning was 95 percent of the quarterback he normally was. And that was some of the old awful Colts coverage units today. I think that was the difference more than anything that happened on offense or defense.

I really wonder whether Laurence Maroney's ever going to be the featured back for this team. It's pretty clear that Bill Belichick and company have no faith in him. His nicest run of the game was on a cutback, and it was almost entirely set up by a great block from Welker.

Aaron Schatz: I can't believe the Patriots won that game. They were clearly outplayed by the Colts for three quarters, and I was literally wringing my hands. You can ask Mike Tanier. Although some of the play in the first half seemed like sloppiness by one team rather than greatness by the other, I do think we can say that this was another great game between two great teams, two evenly matched teams, two teams that are far ahead of the rest of the league.

For a long time it looked like this game would be decided by three people. One was Addai, who was absolutely incredible in the first half, a game that would have gone down as one of the best of the year if Adrian Peterson wasn't having an even more stellar game on the same day. Like Peterson, he benefited from good tight end blocking -- the tight ends were totally taking out Tedy Bruschi in the cutback lane. The other two were Mathis and Kaczur. Mathis destroyed Kaczur. It was brutal. I honestly think Light had a much better time of it with Freeney than Kaczur had with Mathis. I don't think they really started giving Light and Kaczur more help in the second half, I just think they went to quicker developing pass plays.

The Pats sure did take an awful long time to change their offensive strategy, though. The word I kept using in the first half of this game was "hubris." The Pats came out doing the same stuff on offense that they've done against everyone else this year, and they took a long, long time to change it even though it was obvious from the beginning that this wasn't a winning strategy against the strengths of the Colts defense. They came out in the spread and the kept working the spread when it was clear Light and Kaczur needed help stopping the defensive ends. Even worse was that pass Brady just chucked up there, across his body, into the end zone. I'm sorry, but that stuff doesn't work against a well-coached Tony Dungy zone. Slowpoke McCrappypants from the Dolphins lets you get a touchdown on that play, but Bethea is going to intercept it nine times out of ten. Hubris.

I was also shocked by how little the Pats ran interesting blitzes with the 3-4. That had always been one of Manning's troubles with the 3-4 in the past, but the Pats nearly always sent just the three down linemen and one linebacker, except for when they were running a 4-2-5 and sent just four down linemen.

I think Colts fans have every right to say "the injuries were the biggest reason we didn't beat the Patriots today." Most Patriots fans would probably say that was whining, but not this Patriots fan. It is absolutely true. Ned mentioned Charlie Johnson, but I noticed Moorehead. There was a play at the beginning where Moorehead couldn't get his feet down in bounds. Harrison gets his feet down on that play. You could tell this guy really didn't belong out there playing an important role in a game of this magnitude, the same feeling I had about Eric Alexander in the AFC Championship last year.

Still, there's no doubt the Pats fixed their run defense in the second half and finally changed the offensive strategy, and they turned a switch on in the fourth quarter, and suddenly the Colts couldn't do anything right and the Pats somehow won this thing. Colts fans can say that they'll have Harrison and Ugoh next time. Pats fans can point out that next time is at their place. I mean no disrespect to the Steelers fans, but it would be a mind-blowing, 1996 Jacksonville-level shock if these teams did not play each other again in the AFC Championship.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 05 Nov 2007

330 comments, Last at 11 Nov 2007, 3:16am by DGL

Comments

301
by Kevin Ailes (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 3:11am

Late to the party, but a couple of things that I think I noticed...

Was the Welker TD the same exact play that they ran against Washington to make it 45-0? If so, could it be successfully argued that it was a meaningfull play that helped them win a future game?

Was the pass that Welker caught to salt the game a similar or same route that Troy Brown was supposed to run in the championship game? If so, I find it ironic that Welker caught the ball that his predecessor didn't - and it put an exclamation point on the offseason aquisitions.

As a Colts fan, I have to say that I am glad that they caught this one than the one last January...

302
by hwc (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 4:19am

RE 293:

I believe that Brady to Moss 50 yards downfield is well north of 50% this year. I know Brady overthrew him twice in one game a few weeks ago. Moss convinced him to underthrow him from then on, "just give me a chance to to make a play". Since then, Brady's been putting the ball way up in the air and letting Moss stop and go up for it. Earlier in the year, Brady had been hitting him in stride with lower throws, but those can be overthrown.

RE: 296

It looked like the same Welker pattern as the Washington game. I think the Pats ran it yesterday because they knew the refs would call offensive pass interference on the Pats on any throw into the end zone. Throwing underneath like that caught the ref by surprise and he couldn't get to his hankie fast enough to take 7 points away.

303
by Jason (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 5:59am

The real question is which NFC teams have the best chance of beating NE if they make the Super Bowl (the most likely AFC rep but hardly a lock)

DAL

-Lead NE in 2nd Half. The 4th and 1 holding and the PI on the Goal Line turned a close game into a laugher by the end. They have an explosive and balanced offense but their lack of dominant pass rush allows NE to exploit their secondary

NYG

-Balanced offense that blends power running with down field strikes. This combined with a great pass rush could give NE fits as we saw Indy's D Line do. However their DBss aren't great and their LBS are not great defending the pass in space and I suspect NE could exploit them by spreading them out.

GREEN BAY

-Green Bay combines an explosive passing game with a defense that has potential to give NE problems. GB's TE's and WR's could get some favotable matchups on NE's LB's and Safeties . GB can pressure well with 4 while dropping 7 and their CBS could potentially disrupt NE's timing with their aggresive bump and run coverage. The real question is how well GB's non balanced offense could do against NE and if their agressive corners can avoid being exploited deep.

Here is how I rank them in their chances to beat NE

1)GB
2)NYG
3)DAL

304
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:11am

From today's Boston Globe
"Well, we definitely had a lot of problems with the coach-to-quarterback," Belichick said. "Basically, we didn't have a coach-to-quarterback operation, so we had to signal in all of the plays, which is unusual, but that's the way it was."

Later in the article:
"Belichick said the team was "basically in that mode the whole game" without operational coach-to-quarterback communication, although the Patriots did have open communication on their headsets to their coaches in the booth.

The two systems are independent, and the Colts were allowed to continue using their coach-to-quarterback communication. "

So, speculation that the Colts were at the same disadvantage turns out to be false. I'm not sure why the league would let the Colts use their system when the Pats didn't have one. I guess it's just another part of home field advantage.

305
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:41am

So, speculation that the Colts were at the same disadvantage turns out to be false. I’m not sure why the league would let the Colts use their system when the Pats didn’t have one. I guess it’s just another part of home field advantage.

Regardless of whether Indy had their system on or not, having no coach-to-QB radio system is far more of a problem for the Pats than for Manning, who calls his own plays.

Wouldn't it also be ironic if the Colts took advantage of the open signals to Brady during the game? (*) I would bet the "encryption" system of visual signals to the QB, which are used so rarely, is far less sophisticated than that used to call defensive schemes. I also wonder whether the Pats had a chance to change/hone their signals at half time, and how that contributed to their better offensive performance in the 2nd half. I guess we'll have to wait for Belichick's memoir to know that.

(*) Just to make it clear, before another inane discussion starts: I am not alleging that the Colts cheated by "stealing" the Pats' signals. "Stealing" signals is perfectly legal.

306
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:56am

300:
Very true that losing coach-to-QB hurts the away team most, and Manning's style doesn't rely on the coach calls as much, anyway. (Does he really call all his plays? I thought he just audibled a lot. Damn, he's good.)

307
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:43am

Does he really call all his plays? I thought he just audibled a lot. Damn, he’s good.
It's more than that, and less.

The Colts typically have three plays sent in by the offensive coordinator for a certain personnel package and situation (usually two runs and a pass, or two passes and a run, based on score, time left, down, distance, personnel, expected defense, and so on). They pick one in the huddle (if they're huddling), and Manning can then audible to one of the other two.

So in a typical spread formation (three wideouts, one tight end, one running back), they'll come to the line with (say) a pass called. Manning can either change the pass to a different one, or to a run, based on what the defense shows. If they lost the play calls from the sidelines, Manning would still be working from his menus-of-three based on personnel and situation. So he's not picking from the entire playbook, or drawing up plays in the dirt field turf, but the effect would be similar similar if they lost communications.

For the record, all teams/quarterbacks that run a lot of no-huddle (Bengals/Palmer, Jets/Pennington*, Patriots/Brady) have a similar system. The Colts probably use theirs more than any other team, though.

* I honestly don't know if the Jets trust Clemens to run their no-huddle, which would help explain why they stuck with Pennington for so long despite his physical limitations.

308
by starzero (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 12:05pm

c'mon guys, is 300 all we can do? can't we start making random statements just to run up the comment count? let's shoot for 500 at least. this is sad. (and while we're at it, follow the link in my name for a little bit on the colts running up the score in 2004--with thanks to bob kravitz, indy star--that's how it's done)

309
by brian (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 1:25pm

I was at the game and their was no "cd skipping(look at this http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071106/SPORTS03/711...) it was tape feedback in the cbs production truck) The last time I checked they don't give out Week 9 Championships. Although Indy lost, it shows me more that the Colts are every bit as good as the Pats; which I knew all along anyways. Once we get Marvin, our 2 best linebackers and our left tackle I think the outcome will be different. Pats fans have to be the most classless fans I have ever seen. I dont think its Belichick rubbing off on the fans; its Boston rubbing off on him. I can respect Steelers fans because they're passionate just like we are. New England fans are just a bunch of SOBs who would rather have an argument than watch a football game.

310
by Red Jimmy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 1:34pm

Sounds like something a fan of LOSERS would say Brian...HAHAHAHAHAHA

Yeah, old ancient Marvin is soooo dangerous these days..HAHAHAHAHA

311
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 1:36pm

Brian, welcome to Tuesday...quit trolling. And before you post, read above..The Indy side already lost the injury whining contest, which was deftly outmaneuvered by the 12th man "Operation Corrupt Zebra" penalty defense.

the sound of feedback is is not the same as digital sound skipping. Most of us believe the sound issue was a broadcast problem.
(305 and counting...also aiming for 500)

312
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 1:59pm

Pats positional groupings (per Mike Reiss):

A look at the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots' offense in their 24-20 victory over the Colts (not including four kneel-downs):

# 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB -- 41 of 58 snaps
# 1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 6 of 58
# 2 WR/1 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 3 of 58
# 3 TE/1 FB/1 RB -- 2 of 58
# 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB -- 2 of 58
# 4 WR/1 RB -- 2 of 58
# 3 WR/1 FB/ 1 RB -- 1 of 58
# 3 WR/2 TE/0 RB -- 1 of 58

ANALYSIS: Ultimately, the Patriots tried a lot of things early and the key was making the decision to go no-huddle in the 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB package with 9:35 left in the fourth quarter. The Patriots stayed in that grouping, upped the tempo, and turned a 20-10 deficit into a 24-20 advantage. ... Then, after pounding the ball on first and second down with its 1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB package in an attempt to run out the clock, the offense went back to the 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB package on the play that sealed the win -- a 10-yard catch by Wes Welker. ... In recent years, the Patriots have utilized more 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB sets against the Colts -- mainly to combat the rush of ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis -- but the approach this year meant that tackles Matt Light and Nick Kaczur were left with less help from tight ends. ... With less 2-TE packages, RB Kevin Faulk was often utilized to chip the ends and was generally effective executing those responsibilities. ... QB Tom Brady's first interception, to Donte' Stallworth, came on an unusual no-back 3 WR/2 TE package which the Patriots used for the first time this year -- and perhaps won't use again. ... One package that didn't produce the desired results was the jumbo 3 TE/1 FB/1 RB grouping, which couldn't pick up the necessary yardage on third and 1 from the Colts 14 late in the third quarter (Bob Sanders tackle). ... The eight different positional groupings were a season high. ... The Patriots have run the majority of their offensive plays from the 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB grouping in six of their last seven games.

313
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 2:08pm

Anyone else remember when one of the networks used recorded bird noises to add ambiance to a golf tournament, and got busted when a birdwatcher noticed some of the sounds weren't from birds indigenous to the area? I think that instead of crowd noise, CBS should have used bird noises. Then you'd have scores of birdwatching football fans calling up to complain. "Wait a minute... the scarlet feathered brushthumper doesn't live in a dome!"

In actual game news:

1) Officials make bad calls. It happens. It's just unfortunate that DPI is such a severe penalty that a bad call is majorly amplified. That said, I think all the PI calls were legit, and they missed a few (OPI on Clark, the mugging of Faulk). Speaking of which...

2) In all the complaining about them not calling that hold/DPI against Faulk, lost in the shuffle is just how dumb of a play it was. They were in 3rd and 20+, and a mediocre running back was about to catch a pass three yards downfield. Why even take a chance? Let him catch it, make the tackle, receive the punt. Why risk the penalty?

3) The 15-yard penalty limit for DPI in college definitely encourages DBs to grab rather than get beaten deep. A lot of it happens closer to the line and is called holding, but it still happens a fair amount down the field.

4) Yeah, things might've gone differently if there weren't injuries. There were injuries. Too bad. "What If?" doesn't show up in the standings. It's the NFL, injuries happen, you play through. That said, Moorehead sucks. Wow. Anyone wondering why they drafted a receiver in the first round, well, there's your answer.

5) It looked like Indy's DE's really got tired towards the end of the game. I wonder if they have good enough backups to rotate in to keep them fresher next time.

6) Pittsburgh is definitely capable of beating New England, depending on which of their teams shows up. Looking ahead to the playoffs, Tennessee has the defense to give the Patriots fits. I don't know that they have the offense to keep up, unless Young goes all Texas-Young on them and runs for 220 yards and four scores. Buffalo this week is the same way - solid defense might be able to keep it close, but can the offense take advantage? And the Giants to close out the season can get great pressure with the front four, but if the Pats are 15-0 heading in, I see them pulling out all the stops to win that one if necessary.

314
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 3:23pm

On the eventual Pittsburgh/NE matchup, I'm not convinced the Steelers will be able to get any pressure on Brady, and if Brady has time in the pocket, he'll be able to pick apart their secondary. Offensively, the Steelers o-line has been horrible, but Rothlesberger will be able to make plays with his legs, and Parker should be able to break a few long runs. Still, the Steelers won't be able to sustain long drives against the Patriots defense, and I don't see the Patriots offense turning the ball over and giving them a short field like the Ravens were kind enough to do last night.
The Steelers are capable of winning, but they'll have to play their best game of the season, and that might not even be enough.

315
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 6:25pm

The edge is slightly in Favor of NE - PIT and NE are almost dead even on running/stopping the run.
But NE has a fair edge in the passing game and in pass defense.
If the weather's good, Pats win easily. If not, flip a coin.

316
by RCH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 7:10pm

Regarding injuries in this series, its worth noting that since 2003 the Patriots are undefeated against the Colts when Rodney Harrison plays the full game.

317
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 7:20pm

New TMQ is up. My favorite stat: Manning, Brady and Favre are the only QBs in NFL history to have victories against 31 other teams. It sure sounds impressive, but there have only been 31 other teams for QBs to play in the last 5 years.

318
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 7:47pm

Re: #312

A more interesting (but still pretty meaningless) stat would be the list of QBs who have experienced victories against all the other teams existing at the time they were playing.

319
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:16pm

Even better, when it happens, will be a QB with victories against every team in the NFL.

Maybe after he retires next year Favre could sign up to play just one game with another team playing some meaningless game against the Packers, just for kicks.

320
by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:03pm

I wonder how many teams someone like Garcia has beaten. He's probably not the best candidate because he's spent most of his career in the NFC. So who's the modern Steve Deberg with the best shot at beating all 32?

And who's lost to the most teams among active QBs? Joey Harrington? Kerry Collins?

321
by beargoggles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:31am

Haven't seen any discussion of this: what happened to Addai in the second half? Certainly NE's DL started to penetrate much better. But in the first half it was clear that Shannon Sharpe was right: Addai was way too fast for New England's old linebackers. It seemed to be that Joseph had too few touches in the second half, while Manning threw fruitlessly to Morehead, et al.

Or maybe NE made an adjustement that I missed?

I also agree that the Colt DE's gassed themselves. This was despite the fact that they were frequently held out for the beginning of drives in the first half, a good idea I thought. The draws were only modestly effective, but they kept the defense honest. And the fact that Indy was unable to score more points with their opportunities in the first half allowed NE to stay patient and continue with the draws until the DE's were tired.

322
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:58am

Or maybe NE made an adjustement that I missed?
I think they stayed in nickel, but put more guys in the box, seeing as how by the second half, Moorehead could be couted on the cover himself with only a little encouragement from Asante Samuel.

Incidently, that was also part of the Patriots gameplan: leave their best corner (Samuel) in single coverage against the second-best receiver (Harrison in the planning stage, Gonzalez when the game began, and Moorehead by the end). Then they rolled help toward Ellis Hobbs covering Reggie Wayne.

323
by Broker (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:27am

A few random thoughts froma Non-Fan of either team-- just a BIG fan of football.

1. Thanks for enforcing the posting rules! I read up to about post 150 and gave up reading. BRUTAL! Hopefully, I'm not duplicating thoughts. If so, forgive me.

2. I felt at the time that the INT Brady threw to Stallworth was primarily Stallworth's fault. Just felt like he should have had the wits to adjust his route for a shortened pass and turn the effort into more of a jump ball. I felt like the receiver kept going, which gave the defender the INT. I might be off a bit, but several people thought that where we watched the game.

3. Officiating was poor, but then, I feel like almost every NFL game has some lower level of calls. Thank God for replay. I believe it has helped.

4. As for which NFC team stands a chance at either the Pats or the Colts, I think it's a tie between Dallas and Green Bay, with the Giants coming up. It would be an incredible turnaround for the Saints to make it. Unlikely, but possible in the NFC. I'm saying odds are on Dallas after this week.

324
by Digit (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:00am

re: 317

I thought the adjustment was that they started using Seau to shadow Addai, or so I thought.

325
by Richard Arpin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 5:24am

Florio of profootball talk is reporting that a guard has informed a cbs affiliate that the colts do pump noise into the stadium. Go to profootballtalk.com or the link in my name.

326
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 10:38am

#320:
That sounds just about as evidence-supported as Dr.Z's "unnamed-team-official-told-me-he-overheard-this-at-a-cocktail-party" accusations against the Pats soon after the taping from the sidelines thing broke out.
I personally will listen when some actual evidence is provided.

327
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 11:31am

I thought the adjustment was that they started using Seau to shadow Addai, or so I thought.
They rotated the linebackers all day, so I don't think you can say they just had Seau on him. It's true that they always had somebody at or near the line, shadowing Addai when he was in the backfield in the second half -- earlier in the game they had been using a more conventional "linebacker blitz if the running back stays in to block" tactic, and Addai would release after the blitz and pick up six yards or more after the dump-off.

Addai's 73-yard catch-and-run was a different problem: all the coverage guys were way back, and Addai juked, won the race to the sideline, and picked up some key blocks downfield (including when about three Patriots collided trying to converge at different angles). He then had James Sanders to beat, and did so.

328
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 11/09/2007 - 4:34pm

“When the contact first occurred, and that’s where you look at the cut-off, when the contact first occurred between the receiver and the defender, has the defender turned around, and is he making a legitimate play on the ball? No, he’s not until after this contact occurs,� explained Pereira, who was illustrating his point for viewers with a replay in front of him.

“He does eventually get his head around, but it’s pass interference, because this initial contact, with Ellis not playing the ball, with Reggie playing the ball, makes it pass interference on Ellis Hobbs and the correct call.�

Of the young crew that officiated the game, Pereira said, “The rookie part of it to me is way overblown. To me, they did a good job.�

329
by Slinky (not verified) :: Fri, 11/09/2007 - 4:44pm

Aaron, I think that you are being too gracious. If Addai doesn't run through 5 NE defenders without making anything more than a moderate cut upfield, the Pats win this game convincingly. Sure, it wasn't the perfect display of offense to which we've grown accustomed, but I never got the feeling that the Colts D could curb the Pats O for the entire game. You knew that the Pats would break through. And while many expected Manning to be able to move the ball, I don't think that the Colts O can get into the endzone with enough frequency against the full complement of Pats defenders

330
by DGL (not verified) :: Sun, 11/11/2007 - 3:16am

Not that I expect that anyone is reading this anymore, but the comment of slo-mo-joe with regard to the penalty calls against NE, "it is out of a genuine concern for crappy officiating, and not just whining and excuse making after a loss," is rather ironic in light of Simmons' latest rant on ESPN. Like, does anyone think that Simmons is showing a genuine concern for crappy officiating?