Patriots race past the Colts 42-20 in rivalry’s return to Indianapolis

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Patriots running back Jonas Gray runs in his fourth touchdown of the game against the Colts Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in New England's 42-20 win.

INDIANAPOLIS – At last, the rivals met in the Circle City.

It’s been five years since the Colts and the Patriots last held their annual match-up in Indianapolis-with four of their previous games taking place at Gillette Stadium.

That would figure to be a good thing for Chuck Pagano’s team who came into Sunday’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium having lost four in a row to New England. Three of the last four times the Colts have faced the Patriots in Indianapolis they have won and getting another victory would be critical to the Colts’ hopes for a high seed in the 2014 NFL Playoffs.

After five years, it was the Patriots who felt right at home in Indianapolis.

Like their playoff game in January, New England used a steady combination of running and passing to beat the Colts 42-20 Sunday night. Unlike their last visit to Lucas Oil Stadium in 2009–when the Patriots lost a 31-14 lead in a one-point defeat–Tom Brady’s team outscored the Colts 28-10 in the second half to improve to 7-3 on the season.

Meanwhile the Colts drop to 6-4 on the season and slip to fourth in the AFC Standings. With losses to the Patriots and the Broncos, the Colts no longer have the tie-breaker against the conference’s top two teams.

Andrew Luck extended his streak of 300-yard passing games to eight by throwing for 303, but the NFL’s top offense never had rhythm over 60 minutes and were held scoreless the final 13:32 of the game. New England quarterback Tom Brady was more of a game manager like the AFC Divisional Playoff win over the Colts 11 months earlier, throwing for 257 yards on 19-of-30 passing with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions.

Jonas Gray stole his thunder with a career rushing day two-and-a-half hours south of where he played college football. The former Notre Dame running back collected four touchdowns and rushed for 199 yards in another Patriots’ victory in the series.

Brady threw the first punch in the game early in the first quarter with an 11-play, 89-yard drive that got New England on the board. Jonas Grey’s 4-yard touchdown rush completed the drive and gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead.

Andrew Luck responded with a scoring drive of his own but it was stopped short of a touchdown after 67 yards gained. Adam Vinatieri, as he has all year long, turned it into points with a 31-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

Gray continued a strong first half of rushing with another touchdown in the second quarter to make it 14-3. The running back finished the half with 100 yards rushing on 14 carries.

The Colts finally reached the endzone late in the half in part because of their defense. Mike Adams picked off a Brady pass with just under 90 seconds to go in the half putting the Colts on the New England 23.

Luck then found Hakeem Nicks on a corner route for the 10-yard touchdown to make it 14-10.

New England started off the second half fast with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off with a Brady touchdown pass to Tim Wright to make it 21-10. After another Vinatieri field goal the Patriots struck again as they went on another 80-yard drive that was capped off by another Gray touchdown to make it 28-13.

The Colts crept closer early in the fourth quarter with a long drive for Luck and the offense. The quarterback found offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo–an eligible receiver on the play–for his first career touchdown to cut the Patriots lead to 28-20.

Unlike the last time they played in Indianapolis, the Patriots shut the door in a big way down the stretch. Once again Gray scored a touchdown to complete an 80-yard drive to stretch the lead to 35-20. New England’s defense then stopped the Colts on four downs at the Indianapolis 32-yard line and capitalized with another score a few plays later.

Brady hit Rob Gronkowski over the middle and he rumbled his way 26 yards toward the goal line then leaped over it for a touchdown to make it 42-20, completing a rivalry homecoming to forget for the Colts.