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Colts Have Learned From Regular Season Meeting With New England

Intro: As the Colts prepare for a rematch against the New England Patriots, they’ve learned a few key lessons from that 42-20 loss back in Week 11. What have the Colts learned since that meeting almost two months ago?





INDIANAPOLIS – It's the outlier on the Colts 2014 schedule.

A game safety Mike Adams called an "embarrassment" and just one of two contests the Colts have dropped in the last two and a half months.

New England 42, Indianapolis 20.

The Week 11 matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium was a game where the Patriots controlled the line of scrimmage and earned a victory that would lead to them hosting this Sunday's AFC Championship.

Obviously, the Colts want to move on from the 22-point loss but players admit that there was plenty to takeaway from that Sunday night home loss.

"What happened in the regular season is what happened and we're a much better team for that," Cory Redding said earlier this week. "We learned from those mistakes and we're moving on. Right now, we watched one tape on them just kind of getting a good idea and just getting ready for the week."

Action highlights from the Patriots @ Colts game.

New England chewed up 246 rushing yards on 44 carries back in Week 11, the season-high the Colts allowed by more than 100 yards.

Running back Jonas Gray, led the way with 201 yards on 37 carries as the Patriots used six offensive linemen on 38 offensive snaps.

Five of the Patriots six touchdown drives spanned at least eight plays, forcing the Colts to play from behind.

Here are a few takeaways from that first Colts/Patriots meeting:

  • Gray running for 201 yards was the obvious headliner coming out of the regular season matchup. New England has had nowhere near the same success on the ground since then (more of a passing emphasis lately) and the Colts run defense is much improved since Week 11. Defensive tackle Art Jones is back in the lineup and the Patriots could be without starting center Bryan Stork (knee) on Sunday. Last week against the Ravens, the Patriots ran the ball just 13 times for 14 yards, the fewest ever for a postseason winner.
  • Red zone play on both sides of the ball has been an area to watch this year for the Colts. New England converted all five of their red zone chances in Week 11 (also 9-of-11 on third down, an area the Colts defense had controlled). The Colts had seven drives reach the 50-yard line but only produced 20 points off those.
  • The Patriots made it clear they wanted to take away T.Y. Hilton and did a rare, wonderful job of that. Hilton had just three catches for 24 yards with a safety over the top of wherever the Pro Bowler went. The Patriots used their top corners in Darrelle Revis on Reggie Wayne (5 catches for 91 yards) and Brandon Browner on Coby Fleener (7 catches for 144 yards). I'd expect those matchups to change a bit from Week 11 with Hilton still being the top priority for the Patriots defense.
  • Some personnel differences from the first game. Ahmad Bradshaw was placed on injured reserve after this game. The Colts running backs finished the night with just 19 rushing yards on 16 carries. Dwayne Allen played only 13 snaps before he left the game with an ankle injury. Donte Moncrief (10 snaps) and Boom Herron (1 snap) both now play much larger roles than they did in mid-November. Starting safety LaRon Landry was coming back from his suspension and played just eight defensive snaps. The Patriots have pass rusher Chandler Jones back in the lineup (joining his brother Arthur on the field this weekend).

All those takeaways aside, it all comes back to the Patriots ground game, an area the Colts have struggled to contain against New England in their last two meetings.

With success in limiting backs like Arian Foster, DeMarco Murrray and Jeremy Hill since then, Redding feels the regular season meeting with New England served the Colts well in the long run.

"Just doing the little things, not trying to do too much," Redding says listing off what the Colts learned from the Patriots game earlier this season. "Staying on top of the details. The fundamentals of tackling. Talking and communication as far as the coverages go. Getting pressure on the quarterback.

"All the little things that we preach and we teach all week, just doing the little things. That's what we got away from and that's what we jump back on."

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