Patriots at Colts score: Jonathan Taylor completes comeback attempt in New England with 67-yard TD

The Indianapolis Colts had a tight grip on Saturday’s game against the Patriots for the first three quarters. During that piece, they were able to shut out Bill Belichick’s club while putting 20 unanswered points on the board. In the fourth quarter, however, New England began to show sparks of life as they put in a 17-0 run to bring them inside a field goal just before the two-minute warning. But just as the tide seemed to be turning in the Patriots’ favor, Colts rushing back Jonathan Taylor decided to slam the door.

On a second-and-8 attempt with just over two minutes left in the game, Taylor broke a 67-yard touchdown run that broke the game wide open for Indianapolis, earning them the 27-17 win in this week’s 15 matchup. snapped New England’s seven-game winning streak.

It was an unusual night for the Patriots, who were plagued by special team issues – including a blocked punt sent back for a touchdown – and played inconsistently both offensively and defensively. Indy was able to capitalize on those mistakes and jump to that early lead, which helped muffle the Patriots’ late comeback attempt.

Carson Wentz was not asked to do much heavy lifting in the passing game, as he completed only five of his 12 throws on the night for 57 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Arguably his biggest plays in the night game thanks to his legs by converting some first downs in critical spots. Taylor finished with 170 yards on the ground, including that clinch score. Meanwhile, Mac Jones completed 26 of 45 for 299 yards, two touchdowns — both to Hunter Henry — and two picks.

Check out our takeaways below to learn more about how this game unfolded.

Why did the Colts win?

In the first three quarters, Indianapolis was largely able to capitalize on New England’s mistakes and take advantage of some key matchups. The biggest was the Patriots’ weakness in defending the run. That was fully on display during the club’s second offensive possession of the night, where they covered 78 yards almost exclusively on the ground. That culminated in the game’s first touchdown when Wentz completed a shuffle pass to Nyheim Hines on a direct snap to Taylor. During the first half, 122 of Indy’s 160 total yards in offense came through the running game.

As Indy extended that advantage, it was also able to take advantage of the Patriots’ generally poor play. The Colts were able to block a punt after New England appeared to let a Colts defender run through the line unharmed and put a hand on the football. That was recovered almost immediately by the Colts in the end zone to create the two-point lead.

Even as the Patriots tried to make their comeback in the second half, they were able to make pairing moves at the right time. The Taylor touchdown run in the fourth quarter is a clear example, but New England’s holding on to a field goal after bringing the football to the Indianapolis 2-yard line proved to be a big swing in the game. If the Patriots had found the end zone on that drive, they would have trailed just six, and that second Hunter Henry score later in the fourth would have put them in the lead.

While Wentz had a quiet night of air, he was extremely cramped in his legs. All three Indianapolis fourth-down conversions were via a Wentz sneak, which either resulted in points on the board or simply killed the clock in what turned out to be a hard-fought game.

Why did the patriots lose?

The Patriots were the anti-patriots for the first three quarters of this game. There were some unusual moves by Bill Belichick’s team that left the Patriots behind early on.

To start the day offensively, the ball was moved well. However, when they entered Indianapolis territory on opening possession, they collapsed: Kendrick Bourne was held to a 1-yard rush on an end-around, a Shaq Mason penalty ignored a 14-yard pass, and Jones was later fired for a 15-yard loss, which forced the Patriots into a fourth-and-30 situation.

On the night, New England committed eight penalties for 50 yards and one went straight to putting points on the board. On Indy’s first possession of the second half, kicker Michael Badgley initially missed a 46-yard field goal. However, the Patriots’ special teamer, Brandon King, went offside, which not only gave Badgley another shot at the try, but pushed him another 5 yards closer. He eventually made the field goal on the second attempt, extending the Colts’ lead to 20.

It was mistakes like that that plagued the team for the first three quarters. They were also knocked out in the first half against the Bills for the first time since October 2, 2016 — better known as the game where Jacoby Brissett started for the Patriots instead of injured Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady suspended.

In Week 15, the Patriots were ranked 26th in the league in touchdown percentage in the red zone. That problem arose in this game and Jones was picked at the Colts’ 6-yard line with less than two minutes left in the opening half. The Patriots also had to settle for a field goal late in the game after getting the ball all the way to Indy’s 2-yard line.

Of course, stopping the run was a big concern in this game, as that was one of the defense’s few weaknesses. Those fears became reality throughout the game as Indy ran as a team for 226 yards with 5.8 yards per carry.

Turning point

While Taylor’s touchdown was the grueling moment in the game (and we’ll discuss it below), the sneaky big moment for the Colts taking this win was holding the Patriots against a field goal at 8:57 of the fourth quarter. Rather than go for the fourth goal on the Indianapolis 7-yard line, Belichick chose to kick the field goal to bring his team within 10 points. That was a risky decision, as New England would need two more possession to tie the game or take the lead. If Belichick had chosen to go for it and the Patriots had found the end zone on that fourth try, it would have taken them only one possession to get a touchdown and take the lead.

Playing the game

Taylor’s 67-yard run will likely put him deeper in MVP conversations, as that run was exactly the kind of dagger the Colts needed to get away with this win. At that point, Indy clung to a three-point lead and tried to keep the ride alive to kill the clock. Rather than simply move the chains, Taylor extended the Colts’ lead, effectively eliminating any comeback opportunities for the Patriots.

This was Taylor’s 11th straight game with a touchdown, which is the longest active streak in the NFL since LaDainian Tomlinson’s 12-game streak in 2004. That was also Taylor’s 31st touchdown in his career. Hall of Famer Edgerrin James, also a Colts star, is the only player in NFL history to have more touchdowns (35) before turning 23 (Taylor turns 23 in January).

What’s next

From here, the Patriots head back to Foxborough and await a crucial match-up with the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Meanwhile, the Colts set out to meet the Cardinals in Arizona for Christmas.

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