Jonas Gray had 32 carries for 131 yards. In his career. Prior to Sunday night, that is.
The unheralded running back was the unquestioned star of the show, leading the Patriots to a 42-20 win over the Colts.
He finished with 38 carries for 199 yards and four touchdowns, pacing an offense that was able to mash the Colts up front.
It was an amazing line for a guy who has struggled to find a home in the league.
He was a legitimate prospect at Notre Dame, but went undrafted after tearing his ACL in November of his senior year. He was signed by the Dolphins, but they cut him in the 2013 preseason, and he hung around on the Ravens practice squad.
The Patriots brought him in this offseason, but didn’t have room for him at first. It took a knee injury to Stevan Ridley to create a crack in the door, and Gray spent Sunday night kicking it in.
A compact 5-10, 225 pounds, his low-to-the-ground style suited the physical game plan the Patriots prepared. And punctuating his final touchdown with a stiff-arm to the crotch of a Colts defender was symbolic of the rest of the game.
They couldn’t have known he was going to respond this way, which will lead to more chances in the future.
But after a long wait for a chance, he’s going to savor this one.
Here are five more things we learned on Sunday Night Football:
1. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady clearly had something to prove after an ugly first half. But it was tight end Rob Gronkowski who was playing with a vengeance.
Gronk was flinging guys to the ground throughout the game, and was penalized for it after Gray’s fourth touchdown, clearly fired up.
But his 26-yard touchdown late in the game was pure Gronk, as he muscled his way to the end zone through a host of would-be tacklers.
He’s a unique athlete, the kind it’s impossible to match up with. And it’s not a coincidence that the Patriots’ resurgence matches up with his return to health.
2. The Colts have some huge injury problems after this one, none bigger than running back Ahmad Bradshaw leaving in the second half with an ankle injury. He walked into the locker room under his own power, but didn’t return.
If he’s out any amount of time, it could have a house-of-cards effect, as Trent Richardson continues to underwhelm (seven carries, no yards, with a long of 2).
Bradshaw gave them the kind of trust and balance you want from a back in this offense, as compared to Richardson, who isn’t worth either of the first round picks teams have spent on him (though at least the Browns cashed in while he had value).
The Colts also lost tight end Dwayne Allen early in the game to an ankle injury. He was carted off the field, and did not return.
That threw a kink in their plans to run the ball, but it also created an opportunity for them to remember Coby Fleener. A seemingly forgotten part of the Colts passing game (or maybe it was on purpose), Fleener had seven catches for 144 yards. He had four catches for 77 yards last week against the Giants, making this a bit of a hot streak.
Being able to use both backs and both tight ends gives offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton flexibility he needs, but at least Fleener is proving himself able to make an impact.
3. The Patriots didn’t let cornerback Darrelle Revis shadow Reggie Wayne exclusively, but he was there at all the right times.
He broke up a fourth-down attempt which ended the Colts’ last real chance midway through the fourth quarter. He was also devoted to Wayne early in the game, and kept the veteran wideout from making much of an impact.
4. Colts safety LaRon Landry makes all the money, but he didn’t have all that much of a role for the Colts.
It was Mike Adams who had the two interceptions, and they continue to start Sergio Brown, who proved himself trustworthy during Landry’s PED suspension.
Ostensibly, he’s the kind of hard-hitter you’d want in a physical game. But it was hard to tell he was in the plan at all, which makes you wonder how much he’s in their future.
5. It was cute to see Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks shush the Indianapolis crowd after catching a touchdown just before halftime.
Maybe the cheering fans were just confused, not quite sure who he was.
After having one of the most underwhelming contract years in the history of free agency with the Giants last year (no touchdowns), Nicks was forced into a make-good deal with the Colts.
His score was his first since Sept. 21, and just his third of the season.