Patriots game against Colts isn't what it used to be
One of Bill Belichick's most difficult jobs is
convincing the media he's being serious when lauding the
"accomplishments" of an 0-11 team. Thankfully for Belichick, he doesn't
care much about what the scribes think as long as his players are
buying into what he's selling.
As the Patriots prepare for the ultimate trap game
this weekend at home against the winless Colts, Belichick has
instructed his players to direct any questions about Indianapolis'
record to him so that he may have the final word on what the team's
mentality will be this weekend.
So far, it appears his message has gotten through
loud and clear to his players, specifically Tom Brady, who acts in some
ways as the spokesman each Wednesday when he takes the podium for his
weekly press briefing.
"We're 8-3. Has it been everything perfect? No,"
Brady said, "but we've got to go out there this week and try to get to
9-3. Any week in the NFL is a tough week. (The Colts), obviously with
the threats they have offensively (and) the threats they have
defensively, can change the game in one play."
The Patriots have played some classic games
against the Colts in recent years, but those were with Peyton Manning
calling the shots behind center for Indianapolis, not veteran nomad Dan Orlovsky, who will get the start this weekend in place of the
struggling Curtis Painter.
While it might be difficult to convince anyone
outside of the locker room that a winless team allowing more points
than anyone else in the NFL has a shot this weekend in Foxborough, the
Patriots are basing their game plan around Indianapolis' limited crew
Some of the same names are still in the lineup,
specifically wide receiver Reggie Wayne, tight end Dallas Clark, and
defensive end Dwight Freeney, who Brady said would be the player he'd
emulate if he were a defender himself.
"I think they've got some players that can really
play," Brady said. "I played Dwight Freeney a bunch. I wish he was out
this week, but he's in there again. He's a phenomenal player. If I
could be a defensive end, I'd be like him -- and Robert Mathis on the
"Both those guys can really wreak havoc. Strip
sacks -- coach said this morning that Freeney has like 99 career sacks
-- 43 forced fumbles. Almost half the time that he sacks you, he strips
the ball from you. He's a great player. They've got (cornerback)
Jerraud Powers. I really like the way he plays. I think they have some
very good defensive players."
That may be true, but the results haven't added up
on the field. Some of the games have been close, but others, such as
the 62-7 loss to New Orleans, have been incredibly lopsided. The only
thing Indianapolis can rest its hat on at this point is the idea that
its veterans could come up with another big-game performance against a
team they've seen every year for the last eight seasons.
Though they're no longer division rivals, the
Colts and Patriots seem to play one another every year. Perhaps that
familiarity will make this game a lot closer than a game against, say,
New Orleans, who Indianapolis doesn't see all that often. Or perhaps
this will end up like most of Indianapolis' games have this year, which
means we could be in store for a lopsided blowout.
Most think the Colts have given up on this season
in anticipation of grabbing the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, but
Brady has a much different perspective from watching game film
throughout the week.
"When you're having a season like they're having,
obviously no one wants to be in that situation," he said, "but I'll
tell you this: they play hard.
"They have a lot of pride. They've been in a lot
of close games. They haven't won them, but they're in them."
SERIES HISTORY: 72nd overall meeting. Patriots
lead series, 43-28. The two teams have met in the regular season in
each of the last eight years and three times in the playoffs during
that same stretch. New England is 19-10 against the Colts since 1993
and has won 15 of the last 22 regular-season meetings. At home, the
Patriots are 25-12 against Indianapolis.
Patriots and Colts have most wins in a decade
--The Patriots and Colts both surpassed the San Francisco 49ers of the 1990s for the best record in a decade by any
team in NFL history. New England had 126 wins from 2000- 2009, while
Indianapolis had 124 wins. San Francisco set the old record with 122
--This will be the ninth consecutive season in
which the Patriots and Colts play each other in the regular season
despite the fact they haven't been division rivals since 2002;
Indianapolis moved to the AFC South following the 2001 season.
--The month of December has been kind to New
England in recent years. Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, the
Patriots have the best home record in December with 18 wins and only
one loss. Likewise, the Patriots have an NFL-best 37-5 record overall
in December since 2001, which includes a perfect 4-0 record last season.
--Hosting Indianapolis on Sunday should bring back
fond memories for Tom Brady.
The Patriots' quarterback made his first career
start against the Colts at Foxboro Stadium on Sept. 30, 2001. He
finished 13-of-23 for 168 yards in a 44-13 win. Brady owns a 6-3 record
in the regular season against Indianapolis and 2-1 record in the
postseason. He has thrown three touchdowns against the Colts in five of
those games. He is 3-2 in the regular season in home games, and 2-0 at
home in the postseason.
--On paper, this is as lopsided a matchup as
you'll get all year in the NFL, but head coach Bill Belichick is
adamant that his team's 8-3 record and Indianapolis' 0-11 record means
nothing entering this weekend.
"(The players) have heard me talk about it every
week, saying we don't care about the record and we don't," Belichick
said. "What difference does it make? Look, how somebody played two
weeks ago against somebody else, who cares? Us or anybody else. It
doesn't matter. Only thing that matters is how we and the Colts perform
against each other on Sunday. That's all that matters. Who cares who
won three weeks ago in some other game against some other players? It
--While BenJarvus Green-Ellis gets most of the
attention, and rightfully so given his prolific touchdown totals, the
Patriots have also received contributions from rookies Shane Vereen and
Stevan Ridley in the running game.
"I would say that both guys have progressed,"
offensive coordinator Bill "O'Brien said. "I think it's hard to play
any position in the NFL as a rookie, whether it's tackle, receiver,
tight end, running back or, obviously, quarterback.
"I think it's a difficult transition and both of
those guys have come along every week and improved every week -- the
running part of the game is fairly basic for them; it's all the other
things. It's the pass protection. It's the pass routes. It's the run
reads. It's the other things that go into that they need to improve on
every week and I really think they've worked hard at that."
--Belichick has been close throughout the years
with newly-hired Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, who used to
provide Belichick with several draftees during Meyer's tenure at
Aside from scouting Meyer's players at Ohio State,
Belichick has another reason to visit the Buckeyes' campus. His
daughter, Amanda, is an assistant coach for Ohio State's women's
"I think I'll be out there whether (Meyer) is
there or not," Belichick quipped.
BY THE NUMBERS: 48 -- The number of yards Wes Welker (5,679) needs to move past Irving Fryar (5,726) into third place
on the Patriots' all-time list.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have a mentality this week, on
defense and as a team, that it's about us. It's about the team we want
to continue to be and excelling at areas we need to excel at to get
where we want to go." -- Safety James Ihedigbo on the team's philosophy
this week of deflecting any questions regarding Indianapolis' 0-11
Colts Pose No Threat