If Tom Brady is, in fact, human, he had to enjoy this.
Because not only did the Patriots quarterback enjoy his payback to the Colts for an offseason spent on #DeflateGate and a perfectly good cell phone, but he also added a chapter to the legend that he can flip a switch and drop this kind of performance as soon as he’s offended.
Other than a tipped-pass interception which was returned for a touchdown, Brady was as clean as you’d anticipate in New England’s 34-27 win over the Colts.
Brady finished 23-of-37 for 312 yards and three touchdowns, doing enough to keep the Colts at bay once they did the one big dumb thing to kill their own chances.
But if his timing is such that he can turn it up for games like this, the in-game version was even more impressive. Once the Colts tried the unexplainable fake punt to no one, he quickly put it in the back of the end zone, and effectively ended this game.
And so for all the buildup of this one based on the #DeflateGate context, Brady handled this one easily enough, moved his team to 5-0, and will certainly do his best to deflect the importance in the post-game.
He’s not fooling anyone. Unless he was lying when he said he was human.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck seemed healthy at first, but he still has some bad habits.
After coming off a shoulder injury that kept him out of two weeks, Luck was in self-inflicted peril in a few spots, and kept up a pattern of behavior. He works so hard to keep plays alive and make something happen, that he takes unnecessary hits.
Sometimes it works out, such as his Brett Favre-ish touchdown pass after ducking under some pressure and stepping up in the pocket.
But sometimes, it just means he’s taking extra hits. The Colts protected Matt Hasselbeck well enough during his relief stint, and has looked better since they shuffled the line a few weeks ago. But they also don’t have enough human talent in front of Luck to protect him always. Learning when to get rid of the ball and try to fight again another day is something Luck’s going to have to work on.
2. As if the interception returned for a touchdown didn’t prove it, the second half showed how valuable Mike Adams is to the Colts.
When he left with a hamstring strain, he was replaced by special teamer Colt Anderson.
And as soon as they had to make that switch, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski became a factor again, after being shut out in the first half. That’s not to lay the blame on Anderson, he wasn’t the one necessarily looking lost on the play. But there was clearly some breakdown of communication on the play, and the Colts aren’t good enough on defense to absorb that kind of loss.
3. Speaking of Gronkowski, it turns out he’s pretty good at catching touchdowns.
After being held in check for the first half, his touchdown to open the third quarter also helped establish his record of excellence. It was his 60th career touchdown, in his 70th game. That’s the fastest to that level of any tight end in league history.
Plus, he’s awesome when he spikes the ball. They should definitely keep throwing it to him.
4. The Patriots continue to change tires on moving cars better than anyone in the NFL.
Losing left tackle Nate Solder was bad enough, but then replacement Marcus Cannon left the game in the first half with a toe injury and didn’t return.
All the Patriots did was flip right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, and proceed.
Granted, the Colts defensive line isn’t the toughest challenge in the league, but they were certainly able to make the best of a bad situation.
5. If nothing else, it was competitive.
The last four meetings between the Colts and Patriots featured a combined score of 189-73.
But the Colts were clearly intent on proving they belonged on the same field, and played with the urgency of a team with a coach on the hot seat.
That held up until they coached themselves out of it, but they only have themselves to blame.