You could hear the murmur of the New England crowd when the Colts defense held the Patriots to a field goal midway through the 4th quarter, giving them a 31-14 lead with 10:23 to go in the game. Why were they concerned? Because they were very uneasy about having only a 17 point lead with that much time left. That is how much Peyton Manning has gotten into the psyche of the New England fans.
Their concerns were justified as Manning lead the Colts to two consecutive scoring drives to close the lead to three points. The defense was solid all of the 2nd half, correctly some of the horrific tackling that allowed the Patriots to get a few additional yards on virtually ever play in the first half.
In the end all of the work of the Colts came to naught as Manning was fooled into throwing an easy pick to end their chances.
Multiple times Sunday night Manning was fooled by a clever defensive scheme that made a cover three defense look like a cover two. On four Occasions manning threw deep to the right side into the teeth of the secondary; getting two picked off. At least one of these was on play action, so perhaps having his eyes away from the secondary was a factor.
It should be noted that the Colts would not have been in this game were it not for the great job Manning did in bringing them back. This after the defense put the Colts in a hole, allowing three touchdown drives in the first half and one in the third quarter.
Austin Collie (who I thought was the key to the game) seemingly suffered another concussion on a long catch and run in the first quarter on what looked to be an unpenalized cheap shot by Brandon Meriweather. Meriweather drove his shoulder directly into Collie's helmet while he was being held up by another defensive back. Going after the head of a player who had suffered a severe concussion a couple of weeks before was either a happy accident for the Patriots or a planned strategy by the same team that let Rodney Harrison cheap shot players week after week.
Tom Brady played his normal game against the Colts - strong first half, timid and shaky in the 2nd half. The Colts went from their usual zone defense in the first half to a tight man to man in the 2nd half - daring the Patriots receivers to beat them. This strategy worked and the Patriots will probably see that again over the next few weeks unless they show that they can defeat it.
All in all, the game went better than I thought it would. After losing Collie early, the Colts were able to scramble to more points than I thought was possible.