For the second straight game, the New England Patriots put 38 points on the Gillette Stadium scoreboard in a winning effort at home in Foxboro, Massachusetts. On a short week of rest, following Sunday’s victory over the Miami Dolphins, the Pats defeated the Indianapolis Colts 38-24 on Thursday night.
It was a milestone night for quarterback Tom Brady. Brady completed his 500th touchdown pass, which went to Josh Gordon. Gordon, who was recently acquired from the Cleveland Browns, flashed (pun intended) signs of being a prolific target for Brady, as he hauled in the athletic grab. However, Brady characteristically spread the wealth in this contest. He hit running back James White 10 times for 77 yards. Perhaps most notably, Brady connected with reliable pal Julian Edelman by completing seven passes for 57 yards to the wide receiver, who returned to action after serving a four-game suspension.
Brady wasted no time in reintroducing his favorite target back into the Patriots offense. He started off with a pass to Edelman, who was wide open for 9 yards. That drew the first of many loud cheers for the 10th-year veteran receiver in his first game since the 2017 preseason, in which Edelman had suffered a season-ending injury to his ACL.
Brady and Edelman would connect on three receptions for 28 yards on the opening 75-yard touchdown drive Brady capped it with a 1-yard toss to Cordarrelle Patterson.
The Colts responded by driving deep into New England territory. However, the typically automatic Adam Vinatieri missed a 38-yard field goal, preserving the Pats 7-0 lead.
Brady and the Patriots seeming showed no mercy, as the 41-year-old quarterback led his team to a 72-yard drive. This time, Brady would call his own number and utilized his patented sneak for the one-yard rushing touchdown. He then took the Patriots 68 yards near the end of the half and hit running back James White for a 6-yard score.
At the half, the Patriots led 24-3, and the rout was on.
Or so we thought…
Despite being decimated by injuries to several key players, Indy refused to fold the tent. Instead, quarterback Andrew Luck led the Colts on an impressive drive, capitalized by hitting Eric Ebron on a 14-yarder in the third quarter. Although Luck missed all of 2017 with shoulder issues, this game left little concern over the strength of his arm.
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In a surprising twist of fate, fortunes started to turn the way of the Colts during the remainder of the third quarter. Matthias Farley intercepted a pass that was bobbled by Chris Hogan. On the subsequent Colts drive, Hogan’s misplay was let off the hook, as Colts rookie Jordan Wilkins had the ball stripped from his hands by Devin McCourty just four players later.
Brady and the Patriots took over and looked poised to once again find the end zone. However, tight end Rob Gronkowski had the ball stolen and Najee Goode came away with the second-deflected interception of the half for New England.
Just like that, the Colts were back in the game.
Capitalizing on the interception (turned fumble…then, turned back to an interception) Andrew Luck brought his team 80 yards, including a pair of big third-down throws to Ebron. Eric Swoope caught a 13-yard scoring pass to make it 24-17.
However, Brady and the Patriots were not to be denied this one. In a surgical drive, determined to once again make this a two-possession game, Brady connected with Gordon for 34 yards. On the next Pats drive, running back Sony Michel provide a nice run (highlighted by a pretty sweet stiff-arm) to put the Patriots ahead for good.
The Pats improve to 3-2 on the 2018 season, while the Colts fall to 1-4.
MILESTONES FOR BRADY
Tom Brady became only the third player in NFL history to complete 500 touchdown passes. He currently ranks third all-time, behind Brett Favre (508) and Peyton Manning (539.)
Brady also became the first player in NFL history to complete touchdown passes to 71 targets. That is an NFL record.
The Patriots will host Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and high-powered Kansas City Chiefs to Foxboro Sunday on Oct. 14.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC