Learn more about the 6 key takeaways from the Patriots’ loss to the Colts in Frankfurt as follows.
The Patriots offense was unable to score in Germany, and New England was defeated 10-6 by the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, reducing their season record to 2-8 as they enter a much-needed bye week. The Patriots had a promising first drive, but they were unable to make much happen via the air the rest of the way, instead relying on the ground game, where they gained some yards but failed to reach the end zone.
Outside of a touchdown drive on the Colts’ first possession, the Pats were tough defensively, thanks to a takeaway from Myles Bryant. Indy, on the other hand, had five sacks, a missed short field goal from Chad Ryland, and two fourth-quarter interceptions as the Colts did enough to knock off the Pats overseas.
Here’s the quick perspective on the loss and key takeaways:
To start the game, the Patriots put together their longest drive of the season, but a third-down sack inside the red zone forced them to settle for a 37-yard field goal, giving the Pats an early 3-0 lead. The sack was a foreshadowing of future third-down issues.
The 13-play, 61 drive featured key plays from Mike Gesicki, who completed a challenging catch on an original third-and-7, and Ezekiel Elliott, who took a screen throw for 19 yards. Rhamondre Stevenson gained 19 yards on three carries as well.
Given how some of the Pats’ starts have gone this season, it was disheartening to settle for three points instead of seven, as the interior push from big-time problem DeForest Buckner helped blow apart the final third-down play.
The Colts would carry some momentum from the red zone stop, with Gardner Minshew converting a key third-down pass to former Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie on their route to the end zone. Running back Jonathan Taylor posed a problem for the Patriots defense on the drive, gaining 31 yards on the ground and scoring on a fourth-down attempt from the one-yard line.
It was a 14-play, 75-yard drive that nearly resulted in a three-and-out but instead lasted more than seven minutes. Indy took a 7-3 lead, leaving the Patriots to figure out how to stop Taylor and the huge plays.
2. Pats sacks piling up, in a bad way
On the following possessions, the two teams traded punts, with Mac Jones picking up another third-down sack after rookie right guard Sidy Sow was beaten for a swift pressure up the middle. The Patriots forced a three-and-out and applied strong pressure in search of a fourth-down block but were unable to make a play. Because there was no returner, the ball took a favorable Colts bounce, negating any possible gain in field control.
The Pats would punt again when Mac took another sack, this time on first down, which cost the team five yards and placed them in a hole deep in their own territory that they couldn’t climb out of. Mac would record his third third-down sack of the game on New England’s fourth possession, followed by his fourth third-down sack on the fifth. That completed the Patriots’ five first-half sacks, the distinguishing feature of the team’s offensive performance, setting a season high in only two quarters of play.
Protection concerns were an early issue for New England, but after allowing the long opening touchdown drive, their defense stepped up, forcing two-straight three-and-outs and three-straight punts. After converting a fourth-down effort to end the first half, the Colts missed a field goal to take a 7-3 lead into the locker room.
3. Bryant “picks” up Patriots
Myles Bryant delivered on the first drive of the second half, grabbing a tipped-ball interception that put up the offense inside Colts territory. It was the first interception of the game and a sign of a solid trend for the Patriots defense, who had their eighth takeaway in the previous five games. Jahlani Tavai also contributed as the defender who tipped Gardner Minshew’s pass.
However, third-down pressure stymied the Patriots’ subsequent drive, and to make matters worse, Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard ( goal attempt. The offense was unable to capitalize on the fumble, and the brief drive included six consecutive rushes until Mac dropped back to pass on third down.
4. Pats ride the run, special teams lets them down
On their third-quarter drive, the Patriots ran 11 plays to three throws, as Mac Jones continued to make some scary plays, including a near-interception in the end zone. The offense was forced to settle for a field goal, but it came after a crucial 15-play, 93-yard drive that brought them back within one point of the lead. The team’s third-down performance remained a problem, with only three conversions on ten attempts in the early fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, the Colts recovered the momentum with a big 41-yard kickoff return on the subsequent kickoff. They’d finish a short 20-yard drive with a field goal, regaining a 10-6 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
5. Mac picked, Zappe falls short
The Patriots maintained their ground game success, responding well to the Colts’ score drive. As they neared the red zone, they were prepared to take the lead with a touchdown, but the team’s first turnover of the day would come at the worst possible time.
Mac came off the field and heaved a short-armed throw off his back foot that was intercepted at the Indianapolis five-yard line. It was a critical error at an inopportune time, costing the Patriots near-certain points.
The Pats defense was unable to respond by forcing a quick punt, instead allowing a third-and-five conversion that went for 26 yards and allowed Indy eat up more clock. They’d finally force a punt at the two-minute warning, as the Patriots introduced Bailey Zappe in search of a spark to end the game, but that spark never materialized, as Zappe ended the game with his own interception.
6. Patriots are 2-8
With the setback, the Patriots fall to 2-8 on the season as they enter their bye week looking for answers that may or may not exist inside this squad. The Patriots offense failed to score important scores and threw two game-ending interceptions, while their defense allowed just enough to win the game. It’s been a game of whack-a-mole, with this week’s issue being permitting sacks, particularly on third down. Mac’s interception late in the fourth quarter was the final nail in the coffin.
New England will now use their week off to rethink their strategy for the remaining seven games. Meanwhile, the struggling club will have a long voyage back from Germany, with a game against the New York Giants on the other side of the bye.