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COLTS' COMEBACK FALLS SHORT

Posted Dec 4, 2011

The Colts, in pursuit of their first victory, traveled to Foxborough, Mass., on Sunday to meet the New England Patriots. Indy quarterback Dan Orlovsky completed his first seven passes and also engineered three touchdown drives in the second half. However, New England quarterback Tom Brady moved into an uptempo offense early, unsettling the Colts' defense, and the Patriots held on for a 31-24 victory. *

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts' new quarterback produced a strong performance and plenty of second-half fireworks, but New England's old and familiar quarterback was too much to handle.

 

New England's Tom Brady completed 29-of-38 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots' no-huddle offense did most of the damage in a 31-24 victory Sunday over the visiting Colts.

 

However, the Colts refused to go quietly. They trailed 31-3 late in the third quarter when quarterback Dan Orlovsky, starting for the first time for Indy, ramped up the offense for three consecutive touchdowns.

 

The Colts attempted an onside kick to get the ball back and possibly tie the score in the final minute, but the pop-up nestled into the arms of New England receiver Deion Branch.

 

Orlovsky completed a career-high 30 passes in 37 attempts for a career-best 353 yards and a pair of touchdowns with one interception. More impressively, he was 18-of-20 passing for 235 yards and two scores on the Colts' three late touchdown drives.

 

“Dan certainly gave us a lift,” Coach Jim Caldwell said on the Colts' radio network.

 

In his first game as the No. 1 quarterback, replacing Curtis Painter, Orlovsky operated with a slimmed-down playbook. He seemed unfazed.

 

“My goal was just to stay patient and be completion-driven,” he said. “We were able to do that for a long part of the game.”

 

Pierre Garcon caught both of Orlovsky's scoring passes. Garcon totaled nine receptions for a 150 yards, both career-highs. Orlovsky spread his 30 completions among eight receivers.

 

Afterward, however, Orlovsky was displeased because he felt he didn't do enough to gain his team's first victory in 12 tries.

 

“My goal was to go out there and win a ball game, bar none,” he said. “The best chance for us to do that is to play well at this position. I just didn't play good enough to win today. I don't care about anything else, really. I'm at the point in my career and my life where I just want to win.”

 

The Patriots lifted their record to 9-3. When their offense first switched to an uptempo style early in the game, it seemed to stagger the Colts' defense, playing its first game under new coordinator Mike Murphy. Injuries to linebacker Pat Angerer and cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Terrence Johnson did not help.

 

“We had some adjustments to make,” Caldwell said. “You're going to have some games like that where you are going to get banged around. Guys have to step up and do the job. We had some guys who adjusted and finally got some things going there. Overall, I think the effort was very good.”

 

Brady completed 17-of-23 first-half passes for 179 yards. He came out after halftime and connected on his first 10 throws, which gained 114 yards and produced two touchdown drives that sent the home team up by 28 points.

 

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski was formidable, scoring on 11- and 21-yard receptions and a two-yard run. Wes Welker caught 11 passes for 114 yards.

 

The fourth quarter, however, belonged to the Colts. Their defense stiffened. Brady's heroics came to an end.

 

And Orlovsky went to work.

 

“We felt confident going into the game that if we stayed patient, we could move the ball,” Orlovsky said. “That's kind of what happened. ... I wish we had more time on the clock.”

 

It marked the seventh straight game in which the Colts failed to lead at any point. Caldwell saw some improvements, but he remains a realist about the team's situation.

 

“There's no question there are some things we did better,” the coach said. “You have to feel good about that, that we did make some strides and we did show some promise. The bottom line is, we have to win. That's what we're measured by. … We have to find a way to win.”

 

SCORING RECAP

           

FIRST QUARTER (9:30 remaining)

The Patriots broke into the scoring column first with a 39-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.  It was an eight-play, 34-yard scoring drive. The Colts defense produced a solid stand after New England had pushed to the Indy 21-yard line. Patriots 3, Colts 0

 

SECOND QUARTER (14:11 remaining)

The Colts tied the game on a nice drive engineered by quarterback Dan Orlovsky. The points came on a 31-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. The drive went 67 yards on 19 plays, consuming a season-best duration of 10:19 for Indy. Orlovsky completed his first six passes, gaining 60 yards, and the Colts pushed to the 1-yard line before a false-start penalty and third-down sack sabotaged their touchdown effort.  Patriots 3, Colts 3

 

SECOND QUARTER (2:57 remaining)

Using an uptempo offense, the Patriots marched 86 yards in 16 plays to retake the lead. The touchdown came on an 11-yard pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski. Brady was 4-for-4 on third down passes with gains of seven, seven, 12 and 18 yards. Gostkowski booted the extra point. Patriots 10, Colts 3

 

SECOND QUARTER (13 seconds remaining)

The Patriots stayed uptempo and Brady remained at his best. The Patriots quarterback was 4-of-5 passing for 42 yards on his team's six-play, 64-yard drive. BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored from the 1-yard line. Gostkowski kicked the extra point. Patriots 17, Colts 3

 

THIRD QUARTER (12:16 remaining)

Brady and the Patriots came out of the locker room at full speed, marching 77 yards in seven plays in 2:44. Brady passed successfully on every play. The touchdown pass, No. 30 of the year for Brady, went 21 yards to Gronkowski. Gostkowski kicked the extra point. Patriots 24, Colts 3

 

THIRD QUARTER (4:13 remaining)

Gronkowski scored his third touchdown on a two-yard run following a lateral from Brady. The drive went nine plays and 66 yards in 3:59. Gostkowski booted the extra point. A big defensive play by New England set up the drive as Delone Carter fumbled and cornerback Kyle Arrington recovered. Patriots 31, Colts 3

 

FOURTH QUARTER (10:24 remaining)

Donald Brown scored from the 5-yard line for the Colts' first touchdown. Vinatieri added the extra point. The Colts marched 15 plays and 86 yards in 8:49. Orlovsky completed 6-of-7 passes for 59 yards on the drive. Patriots 31, Colts 10

 

FOURTH QUARTER (2:12 remaining)

Orlovsky connected on a 33-yard scoring pass to Pierre Garcon to pull the Colts within two touchdowns of New England. The march went 11 plays and 93 yards. Orlovsky completed 7-of-8 passes for 86 yards. Vinatieri added the extra point. Patriots 31, Colts 17

 

FOURTH QUARTER (36 seconds remaining)

Orlovsky stayed hot, hitting Garcon with a 12-yard touchdown pass. Vinatieri added the extra point. Orlovsky hit all five of his passes for 90 yards on the march. Patriots 31, Colts 24

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