Friday, November 16, 2018

Julian Edelman returns, Tom Brady gets milestone as Patriots cruise past Colts

It wasn’t necessarily pretty — for either side — but the New England Patriots fended off the Indianapolis Colts 38-24 on Thursday night, putting themselves in position to reclaim a share of the AFC East lead.

Returning from a PED suspension, New England WR Julian Edelman played his first meaningful game since Super Bowl LI (he missed the 2017 season with a knee injury). He generally looked like his old self, hauling in seven Tom Brady passes (most among Patriots wideouts) for 57 yards, though did have a drop in the first half that cost his team a first down and big chunk of yards.

Meanwhile, Brady had another record-setting night, finishing with 341 yards and three TDs through the air while adding another on one of his patented goal-line sneaks. He did suffer two interceptions (neither his fault) in a game that got uncomfortably close early in the fourth quarter before New England pulled away.

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The Miami Dolphins (3-1), who were blown out by the Patriots in Week 4, go to Cincinnati to face the Bengals (3-1) on Sunday. A Miami loss would drop them into a first-place tie with New England.

Here are three other things we learned from Thursday’s game:

More TB12 milestones: Brady’s fourth-quarter TD pass to Josh Gordon was the 71st of his career to a different player, a new NFL record (Brady tied Vinny Testaverde in Week 4). It was Brady’s third scoring strike of the night and 500th of his career as he joined Peyton Manning (539) and Brett Favre (508) in the 500 club.

Hard Luck Colts: Indianapolis fell to 1-4, falling into the AFC South cellar. But it’s evident a rebuilding team, still short of talent in many areas, will not be pushed around. Despite not having WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and a losing a litany of defensive players, including stud rookie LB Darius Leonard (ankle), the Colts hung around most of the night. Andrew Luck continues to look like the ballyhooed player taken atop the 2012 draft as he travels the road back from shoulder surgery. He battled gamely (365 yards, 2 TDs) despite being undermined by numerous drops from his receivers. K Adam Vinatieri banged a field goal attempt off an upright in the first half, much to the delight of the New England fans who used to root for him. And the defense, which has shown great improvement under new coordinator Matt Eberflus, eventually gave out late after hemorrhaging too many starters. 

Gutsy Gronk: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski played despite being limited all week by an ankle injury that had initially cast his status in doubt. He caught six passes for 75 yards, but was involved in an interception of Brady after a ball Gronk seemed to have possession of was jarred loose. He looked gimpy at times, but earned a 10-day rest heading into New England’s next contest, one sure to be hyped when they welcome Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in Week 6.

***

Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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