INDIANAPOLIS – Bubba Ventrone’s hot. White hot.
For the second time in five games, his special teams unit contributed a blocked punt/touchdown to an Indianapolis Colts’ win.
And for the second time in five games, Ventrone called the shot.
“He was talking about it all week,’’ Frank Reich said after Saturday night’s 27-17 win over the New England Patriots. “He’s on a roll. He should go to Vegas or whatever.”
“I mean, man is on a roll.’’
Late in the first quarter, Matthew Adams sliced through Jake Bailey’s protection and smothered his punt. It ricocheted into the end zone where E.J. Speed covered it.
It was Speed’s second blocked punt/TD of the season. In week 10 against Jacksonville, Zaire Franklin blocked a punt that Speed returned 12 yards for a TD.
Ventrone predicted that one as well.
“He’s such a good coach, good leader,’’ Reich said. “He really has those guys playing well. They believe.
“You can’t say enough about Bubba.’’
According to NFL Research, Speed is the first player with multiple touchdowns on blocked punts in a season since Baltimore’s Ed Reed in 2003.
Condolences to the Kelly family
Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly missed the game due to personal reasons.
But he was in everyone’s thoughts.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick opened his post-game press conference by addressing Ryan and his wife Emma.
“First of all,’’ he said, “I’d like to extend my sympathy to Ryan and his family. Our hearts go out to him.’’
Reich said the players and coaches also “honored’’ Ryan and Emma in the locker room because of “what they’re going through right now.’’
A ‘Special’ TD
The Colts took a 7-0 first-quarter lead thanks to Reich’s creativity.
On first-and-goal at the 12, running back Jonathan Taylor took a direct snap out of the shotgun formation with quarterback Carson Wentz to his right. Taylor handed off to Wentz, who was moving left, and he immediately flipped the football to Nyheim Hines, who was flowing right.
Hines skirted right end and scored a 12-yard touchdown – a pass, for those keeping score at home – with Taylor serving as his lead blocker.
Reich had fun with The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz, who had tweeted during the week he’d pay Reich $20 if he ran the Philly Special against the Patriots.
“You owe me $20,’’ Reich told Kravitz, with a smile.
It was mentioned that wasn’t the same Philly Special the Eagles ran against New England in Super Bowl LII.
“When we put that in, I thought about you,’’ Reich said to Kravitz. “I said, ‘I’m telling Bob he owes me $20. This is a version of the Philly Special.'”
“That’s a version of it, so there you go.’’
As Reich headed off the podium, he said it would be called the Patriot Special.
It’s difficult keeping track of Taylor’s breakout season. But we’ll try.
With 170 yards on 29 carries, he pushed his NFL-leading totals to 1,518 rushing yards and 1,854 yards from scrimmage.
According to Next Gen Stats, Taylor reached a top speed of 22.13 miles per hour on his 67-yard TD. That’s the fastest time by a ball carrier this season.
His 17th rushing TD broke Lenny Moore’s franchise record set in 1964, and he’s had a rushing TD in 11 straight games. That tied Moore, Emmitt Smith and Priest Holmes for the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.
Tempers flared on several occasions.
In the third quarter, Colts wideout Michael Pittman Jr. and Patriots defensive back Kyle Dugger were ejected for double personal fouls after the whistle had blown. Pittman reached after having his helmet yanked off at the bottom of a pile.
Also, Wentz lost his cool after being sacked on a third down play on the Colts’ first possession of the third quarter. Apparently there was some extra things going on as several Patriots climbed off Wentz.
“I don’t know if I have ever been that fired up on a football field before,’’ he said. “I don’t need to go into the specifics, obviously, but a man’s ability to reproduce is being in question and some other guys with curse words.”
“Guys hands need to be at their side, I will just say that. When that happens, you can get pretty riled up as I expect a lot of people would.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.