ReFo: Patriots at Colts, Week 11
Ben Stockwell discusses standout performances from the Patriots' ground-it-out win over Indianapolis.
ReFo: Patriots at Colts, Week 11
For the third straight season Andrew Luck and the Colts took a heavy beating from the New England Patriots who this time were led by unheralded running back Jonas Gray. Usually one of the highlights of the season as a passing contest, the Patriots instead took the air out of the ball and dominated the Colts on the ground, feeding Gray time after time after time.
The Colts lost the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes as the Patriots got the better of both battles in the trenches. While Gray and Shane Vereen were given 111 yards before contact on 39 combined carries, the combination of Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson gained 14 of their combined 4 yards after contact. As a result we had polar opposites in terms of commitment and efficiency in setting up the ground game.
New England Patriots – Performances of Note
Jonas Gray, RB: +5.5
Breakdown: Last night Gray topped his career totals in attempts, yards, yards after contact, touchdowns and missed tackles forced; the definition of a career night. The combination of a solid game by his own offensive line and a dreadful display by the Colts’ front seven gifted him a platform that he converted into consistent yards.
Signature Stat: Gray gained 96 of his 199 yards on 16 carries when the Patriots pulled a blocker from the backside; 6.0 yards per carry with more than half of that (3.2 ypc) coming before first contact.
Darrelle Revis, CB: +2.8
Breakdown: A second big game this month from Revis who has recorded a pass defense in each of his last four games. After surrendering five completions on six targets to the Broncos before the bye Revis returned to the form he showed against Chicago, surrendering only two completions on six targets for four yards and a passer rating of 42.4.
Signature Play: Both of those completions were stops for Revis including his tackle for a loss on Ahmad Bradshaw at 5:15 in the first quarter.
Rob Gronkowski, TE: +1.8
Breakdown: Never one to be left out of a dominant New England performance, Gronkowski wasn’t the focal point of the offense, but he put in the dirty work as a run blocker and took his chances with ball in hand when they came. This marked the fifth straight game that Gronkowski has earned a positive grade, earning solid marks for both his run blocking and pass catching in every game since Week 6.
Signature Play: Seemingly taken care of on an out route at Q4 6:56, Gronkowski turned on the power tearing back inside of D’Qwell Jackson and the rest of the Colts’ defense to cap off the Patriots’ comfortable victory.
Indianapolis Colts – Performances of Note
Coby Fleener, TE: +2.9
Breakdown: Perhaps lost a little in the performances of Gray and Gronkowski was one of the best games of Coby Fleener’s career. First exploiting breakdowns in coverage and then simply taking control down the field Fleener caught every pass thrown his way including three down the field, snagging 89 yards on three passes aimed 20+ yards downfield.
Signature Play: Fought off Brandon Browner on a double move at Q3 3:23 breaking upfield for a 45-yard gain, one of his five catches for 118 yards against Browner.
D’Qwell Jackson, ILB: -6.1 & Jerrell Freeman, ILB: -3.7
Breakdown: Neither the Colts’ defensive linemen nor their linebackers could get close to Jonas Gray. Whether struggling to get off blocks or struggling to take Gray down (two missed tackles each) Freeman and Jackson offered no resistance to the Patriots’ ground game in a totally ineffective display.
Signature Stat: Neither Jackson nor Freeman has graded positively since the Colts’ shutout victory over the Bengals in Week 7.
Gosder Cherilus, RT: -3.8
Breakdown: The Colts never committed to the run last night, partly on account of the scoreboard and partly thanks to displays like this one from Cherilus. His first negative run blocking grade since Week 6 saw him surrender one tackle behind the line of scrimmage to Dominique Easley and another at the line of scrimmage to Dont’a Hightower.
Signature Stat: On six carries off right guard, right tackle and right end the Colts lost 5 yards.
PFF Game Ball
Who else but Jonas Gray, ably aided by both the Colts’ run defense and his own offensive line the former Notre Dame back took full advantage in an emphatic performance.
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Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.