INDIANAPOLIS – *RECEIVING CORPS HAS SUCCESSFUL DAY: *Behind perhaps the most impressive offensive output of the season, the Colts' wide receivers had a season-high 21 receptions on Sunday at New England.
Three receivers caught at least five passes, a total also accomplished by tight end Jacob Tamme as well.
Leading the way for the unit was wide receiver Pierre Garcon with nine receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
It marked the third game this season and the fourth of his career that Garcon has had two touchdown receptions. He also had two scoring plays at Tampa Bay on October 3 and versus Kansas City on October 9. The other previous time he accomplished the feat was at Tennessee on December 9, 2010.
It was Garcon's sixth career 100 outing in the regular season, and he has done it twice in the post-season. His yardage total at New England set a career-high, and it was the second-best he has had overall. Garcon totaled 151 yards against the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game following the 2009 season. Six career 100 outings tie him with tight end Jim Mutscheller and wide receivers Glenn Doughty and Brandon Stokley for the 10th-best mark in Colts history. Garcon is leading the team with 805 reception yards on 55 catches. His career seasonal-best for receptions is 67 in 2010, while this year's yardage mark represents a career-high. Six scores tie the seasonal-best total he had in 2010.
Following the game, Garcon wished the team achieved a different result, and he knows they will see some good things on film.
"There were a lot of positives at the end of the game, but we should of played like that the entire game," Garcon said. "It's something we can build on and learn from."
Garcon got things started right off the bat with a 13-yard catch on the first offensive play for the Colts.
However, Garcon would not catch another pass until the fourth quarter. On the Colts' first touchdown drive of the quarter, Garcon caught three passes for 23 yards.
Capping off the next scoring drive, Garcon hauled in a 33-yard touchdown reception on a third-and-six play.
His final touchdown of the afternoon came with 36 seconds remaining when he scored on a 12-yard catch to bring the Colts within seven points. On the previous play, he made an acrobatic reception on the sideline for 40 yards.
This was the first week that Garcon worked extensively with quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Even with not having an established connection, the two helped spark the fourth-quarter comeback.
"There were a lot of great plays," Garcon said. "We moved the ball down the field. We ran the ball well. (Orlovsky) managed the game well. He did a great job."
Fellow wide receiver Austin Collie also had his best day of the season with seven receptions for 70 yards. Veteran Reggie Wayne had five receptions for 55 yards as the group combined for 21 receptions for 275 yards, the best outing by the corps this season.
Down by 28 points in the fourth quarter, the Colts did not give up the fight. Indianapolis moved within an onside kick recovery from having the ball with a chance to tie the game in the final seconds.
"People can say what they want to say about not playing hard, but I think that pretty much shut that up right there," Tamme said. "We want to win. It is frustrating that we are not and that we haven't, but we are doing everything we can to get over that hurt."
*OFFENSE SUSTAINS LONG DRIVES: *Despite having his first start in a Colts uniform, quarterback Dan Orlovsky performed admirably with a pair of 15 play drives.
The Colts' second offensive possession of the game resulted in a 19-play, 67-yard march which ended with kicker Adam Vinatieri's 31-yard field goal.
On the drive, the Colts converted their first four third downs and drove all the way to the one-yard line before settling for a field goal. The Colts finished the afternoon 10-of-15 on third-down attempts, which is the best percentage they have had all season. Third downs had been an area of particular struggle for Indianapolis all season. The Colts entered Sunday's game having only converted 46-of-142 seasonal attempts (32.4 percent).
The balance of nine running plays on the drive helped to keep the chains moving in leading to the first points of the game. The drive also was part of a stretch of seven consecutive completions for Orlovsky, but ultimately the offense was not able to punch the ball in for a touchdown.
"It's frustrating, but frustrating might be the wrong word. (It's) more like a missed opportunity," Orlovsky said. "It's a 19-play drive. It's a heck of a drive, so you don't want to put a negative on that, but would we (want to) have scored a touchdown and do we need to? Yes."
In starting the comeback, the Colts went on a 15-play, 86-yard drive for their first touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter.
The drive was capped off by running back Donald Brown's five-yard touchdown run, and it was the first of three touchdowns for the offense in the final quarter. The touchdown drive ate almost nine minutes off the clock, which was just behind the 10:19 drive the Colts had in the first quarter.
The two long drives aided Indianapolis to control the ball for 35:39 of the game, the season's best time of possession total. The Colts have had difficulty this season in this category as well. The best possession time this season prior to the New England game was 28:32 against Tennessee.
Playing against one of the top teams in the AFC, the Colts tied their highest point total of the season with 24. Indianapolis also had 24 points against Kansas City.
"New England has a good team, but we felt like we could do some things out there," Tamme said. "Early we did, but we didn't finish a couple of drives and that kind of got us. We stopped ourselves a few times. They have good players but we do, too. We are confident, but we haven't done what we needed to do this year."
*COLTS SEE NEW FACES MAKE IMPACT: *On a day when the Colts battled injuries on the defensive side of the ball, some younger faces made their presence felt.
Middle linebacker A.J. Edds took over for Pat Angerer early in the game when the league's leading tackler left with an injury.
Edds had eight tackles on the afternoon, which tied for second-most on the team. Edds was tied with linebacker Ernie Sims, while safety Antoine Bethea had nine stops.
In the secondary, 2011 sixth-round pick Chris Rucker had five tackles, along with one pass deflected. Rucker's role expanded when fellow corner Terrence Johnson was injured on a punt early in the game.
On the defensive line, Mario Addison gave the Colts a lift at the end position. Addison has been with the Colts for only two weeks, but the 2011 undrafted free agent from Troy had five tackles in his first action with Indianapolis.
Back in the starting lineup for the first time since October 16 at Cincinnati was left cornerback Jacob Lacey. Lacey had six tackles against the Patriots and was one of a number of Colts forced to step up with others going down due to injury.
"I think we came out really strong and unfortunately we had a couple guys go down early," Lacey said. "So we had some guys come in and had to play different positions. We kind of had a meltdown toward the middle of the game and we finished strong."
Offensively, tight end Anthony Hill caught his first pass in a Colts uniform. It was his third game playing for Indianapolis.
Known for his blocking, Hill and fullback Jerome Felton both saw action in the run game and the passing department for Indianapolis.
Felton was claimed off waivers this past week to fill in for Ryan Mahaffey, and the former Carolina Panther was one of eight receivers to catch a pass on the afternoon.