Stew Milne//USA Today Sports

Patriots 38, Colts 24: 10 things we learned in Thursday night’s win

Ryan Hannable
October 04, 2018 - 11:35 pm
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FOXBORO — It was a roller coaster of a night, but in the end there were a lot more highs than lows for the Patriots.

New England came out of the gates hot, jumping out to a 24-3 lead at the half, but then allowed the next 14 points before blowing the game open in the fourth to come away with a 38-24 win over the Colts on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

Tom Brady finished 34-for-44 with 341 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The play of the game was a 34-yard touchdown strike to Josh Gordon in the fourth quarter, which came on a broken play and Brady trusted Gordon to get open in the end zone.

The 41-year-old's two interceptions came on tipped/dropped passes. Chris Hogan dropped a pass and then Rob Gronkowski had a ball knocked out of his arms.

Here’s 10 quick observations from the win.

1. The Patriots should have blown the Colts out as they were up 24-3 at the half and seemed to be having their way on offense, but struggled early in the second half, including two turnovers. The defense also allowed Andrew Luck and the Colts offense to move the ball, which looked a lot like Weeks 2 and 3 of the season at times. The Patriots offense looked really good on the opening drive as Brady went 9-for-9 utilizing the hurry-up offense. Overall, there were some good things shown by the offense, but the turnovers allowed the Colts to stay in the game a lot longer than they should have.

2. After coming into the game questionable with an ankle injury, Gronkowski played the majority of the contest and didn't show any real signs of being hobbled by the injury. The tight end finished with six catches for 75 yards. Unlike last week against Miami, the Patriots had him run more routes down the field. The mini-bye will serve him well as he could use the extra rest.

3. In his first meaningful game since Super Bowl LI, Julian Edelman played roughly 70 percent of the snaps and looked good. The wide receiver finished with seven catches for 57 yards. Brady went to him on the first throw of the game to get him involved and he responded. He also returned punts. Most of his routes were out of the slot, which allowed Chris Hogan to work more on the outside. Gordon saw more snaps as well and if he continues on this pace, he could take over for Hogan as the No. 2 receiver on the depth chart.

4. Sony Michel continues to get better with experience. The rookie finished with 98 yards on 18 carries, including a 34-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. New England’s offensive line built on last week’s strong performance by opening up some big holes for Michel to run though and the Georgia product showed a lot of explosiveness in getting to the next level. After missing the preseason, it seems he’s starting to get more acclaimed to the NFL and it is showing. James White was once again excellent, finishing with 10 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. These were the only two backs active for the game.

5. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn had his best game as a Patriot as he put consistent pressure on Luck and was a big reason for Patrick Chung’s interception in the first half. This was good to see since he was off to a pretty slow start this season. Jonathan Jones added an interception later in the game.

6. After allowing a touchdown catch to Eric Ebron, Devin McCourty made up for it on the next series when he basically took the ball out of Colts running back Jordan Wilkins’ arms when making a tackle to force and recover a fumble. McCourty tried the same thing with Frank Gore last week, but was able to get it to work this week. It was a big play in the game as the Colts had gained some momentum.

7. New England's defense couldn't cover Colts tight end Eric Ebron. He had nine catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Whether it was McCourty or Chung, they just didn't have an answer all night. McCourty is going to want to forget about this game quickly. This was unusual to see as usually the Patriots defense does well against tight ends. Luck was slinging it all night long and showed no signs of having a troubled shoulder.

8. The Patriots now have nine giveaways after only having 12 all of last year. A few of them have been some bad luck, but this is not a trend the team wants to continue. Over the years this has been what makes them so successful — not beating themselves. They haven’t all been on dropped passes either, as Brady has made some poor decisions.

9. Injuries were a major story in the game for the Colts as they entered with just 44 dressed players due to a number of injuries. They ruled seven players out on Wednesday and saw several more get injured over the course of the game. This does not do much for the argument that Thursday Night Football is good for the NFL.

10. New England will now get 10 days off before hosting the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in what could be one of the better regular-season games on the schedule. Expect the team to get the weekend off before getting back to work early next week.

Josh Gordon became the 71st different receiver to catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady. That's a NFL record.

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