Heading into the fourth quarter, the Patriots were coasting. They'd thoroughly routed their winless rivals and, armed with a commanding 31-3 lead, just had to cruise through garbage time to earn their ninth win of the season. All they had to do was play out the string, literally.
But then a funny thing happened. The Colts, without Payton Manning yet again and sleepwalking their way to another defeat, suddenly came back to life quicker than a zombie in "The Walking Dead." Stand-in QB Dan Orlovsky rallied his troops with a pair of TD passes to Pierre Garcon (who enjoyed a monster day by hauling in nine passes for 150 yards) while Indy's D put the screws on New England's devastating offense and kept them off the scoreboard in the fourth. By the end of the game they'd dominated the final fifteen minutes and had somehow managed to cut New England's lead to a single touchdown. And with every Patriot fan in Gillette sweating bullets, Deion Branch thankfully recovered the onside kick and Tom Brady took a knee to hold on for the win.
New England's defensive struggles and fourth quarter meltdown aside, this afternoon's game was just business as usual for the Pats. Brady did his thing, leading the air attack with a very efficient 29/38 for 289 yards and a couple touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski (who made it a hat trick with a rushing TD) while keeping Wes Welker happy with eleven receptions and 110 yards. New England didn't get much on the ground from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who managed to score despite finishing the day with just fourteen rushing yards on six carries. Even New England's much-maligned defense performed well for the most part, holding to Colts to just a second quarter Adam Vinatieri field goal before collapsing like a house of cards at the end.
The Pats take on the Redskins (4-8) in the nation's capital next Sunday as they continue to benefit from a soft schedule down the stretch. New England will be gunning for its tenth victory of the season, and should get it there.