INDIANAPOLIS – It’s been a battle of attrition all season long for the Colts and Patriots.
Not only have the two teams combined for 27 players on injured reserve but Pro Bowlers are littered on the list no player wants to see their name.
Yet through the battles, the two leaders that have been out there each and every week are the men under center.
Chuck Pagano points to the “first ballot Hall of Famer” in Tom Brady and a winning culture that has always been the calming influence over the years.
“It’s the quality of the guys, much like our situation,” Pagano says of the reason the two teams have overcome the injuries.
“We’ve got guys that are athletic and guys that can make plays. They’ve got guys that are athletic and can make plays. They’ve done a good job of bringing guys in and plugging them in. That system has been in place. They make adjustments here and there.”
For Brady, he’s dealing with skill position players that won’t show up in box scores of many past Colts and Patriots matchups.
There will be no Rob Gronkowski, Randy Moss, or Wes Welker running around the Colts secondary on Saturday night.
Instead, these Patriots have relied on a top-10 rushing attack and Brady said it’s not by coincidence.
“The running game has been critical to the success of our team this year. It’s been really a strength of ours,” Brady said on a conference call earlier this week.
“Offensive line and the way the backs have been running and how physical they’ve been has really contributed to what our production on offense has been. It’s something that has gotten to be a strong point for us. Some of our best playmakers are in the backfield and like I said, our offensive line has really taken a lot of pride in establishing a certain level of physical play.”
Brady joked on Tuesday that Butler has picked him off numerous times in past practices and the Colts corner gave the compliment right back.
“He still has his right arm. That’s all the weapon they need right now,” Butler says of the Patriots offense. “Anytime they’ve got him under center they have a chance.”
Similar statements have been said about
While the Patriots biggest losses have been in the middle of their front seven, the Colts have lost nearly half of their offensive starters.
After struggling to adapt to their personnel, the Colts offense has hit its stride over the past month.
Luck said it’s been a “whole effort from all angles” and credits
“They do a great job of getting guys after practice as well and putting them through the ropes, or getting the script and walking through things,” No. 12 said.
“Everybody does do a little extra, and it’s paid off.”
The old saying of “quarterbacks get too much of the blame after a loss or too much of the praise after a win” is frequently heard around the NFL.
But in the case of Luck and Brady they’ve been forced to raise their level of play due to the losses of those around them.
“The expectations are extremely high. Both quarterbacks expect a lot from their teammates in a positive way,” Pagano says.
“If you’re going to advance and move on, you have to play and perform at a certain level. All those young guys that had to plug in, whether it’s for us or for them, that’s what’s expected.”