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Old 10-19-2015, 11:00 AM   #1
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Bad fake punt costs Colts as Patriots pull away 34-27

Coach Chuck Pagano stared straight into the cameras and tried to explain what went wrong on Sunday night's botched fake punt.

It was inexplicable.

Click here to watch the video.

On a night, the Colts finally went toe-to-toe with their bitter rivals, a bungled play call gave Tom Brady a short field and a gift chance to put the game away. He did. Brady led the Patriots on a 35-yard touchdown drive to seal a 34-27 victory at Indianapolis.

"The whole idea there was on fourth-and-3 or less, shift our alignment to where you either catch them misaligned, they try to sub some people in, catch them with 12 men on the field and if you get a certain look, you can make a play," Pagano said. "Alignment-wise, we weren't lined up correctly and then there was a communication problem on the snap and I take responsibility for that."

They didn't fool anyone.

Indianapolis (3-3) never recovered and now their hope of hosting New England in a potential playoff game plan probably is gone, too.

How did it happen?

Receiver Griff Whalen, who snapped the ball to safety Colt Anderson, called it a miscommunication. Pagano blamed himself. But all that really mattered was the result.

"It's obviously not ideal," Andrew Luck said. "At the same time, a couple of three-and-outs didn't help the cause."

Brady took full advantage of the miscues in one of the strangest games of this long, heated rivalry.

He threw for 312 yards, three touchdowns and led the Patriots to a 34-27 victory Sunday night in the highly anticipated "Deflategate" rematch.

But in a series defined by wild games and crazy plays, Indy's awful fake punt might have been the worst of the worst. With most of Indianapolis' players shifted up near the right sideline, receiver Griff Whalen inexplicably snapped the ball to safety Colt Anderson, who was immediately tackled for a 1-yard loss.

That gave the Patriots the ball at the Colts 35. Six plays later, Brady broke free from the pass rush and hooked up with LeGarrette Blount for an 11-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots a 34-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Indy never recovered.

New England has won seven straight over its longtime rival and is 5-0 for the first time since its 16-0 season in 2007.

While Brady wasn't perfect -- he threw his first interception of the season -- he was still pretty darn good. Brady finished 23 of 37 in the first meeting since January's AFC title, which ultimately led to allegations of improperly inflated , months of investigation and eventually a four-game suspension that was nullified in court.

Had the suspension been upheld, Brady would have made his season debut in front of a hostile Indianapolis crowd.

Instead, Colts fans, who booed heartily when Brady first appeared at Lucas Oil Stadium, roared even louder when Indianapolis' Andrew Luck returned after missing two games with an injured right shoulder. Luck was 30 of 50 for 312 yards with three touchdowns and most importantly, no turnovers.

The game didn't go the way anyone expected.

New England got away from its strong ground game, running just 25 times for 116 yards, and kept the ball mostly in Brady's hands.

But the Colts played the more aggressive game.

They scored a touchdown on the opening series by going for it on fourth-and-1. They tried a first-half onside kick. They continued to take shots down the field, and they refused to back down from the defending Super Bowl champs.

So the fake punt fit right in -- no matter how bad it turned out.

"We were going to be aggressive," Pagano said. "We were going to attack this football team."

It was the game everyone wanted to see in last season's AFC championship game, a 38-point rout.

Inspired by Luck's return, the Colts led 21-20 at halftime -- something they had not done since Luck's arrival in 2012.

But in the second half, Brady reverted to form.

He opened the second half by taking the Patriots on an 80-yard drive, capping it with a 25-yard TD pass to a wide-open Rob Gronkowski to make it 27-21.

And after getting the short field off the fake punt, Brady put the game away with a nimble move to evade the pass rush and spot Blount in the end zone for the first TD catch of his pro career.

"It's a good win, I'm glad we won," Brady said. "It's always good to win on the road."

Notes: Colts safety Mike Adams, whose interception return for a TD gave Indy a 14-10 lead, left later with an in injured hamstring. ... Danny Amendola had seven catches for 105 yards and Julian Edelman had six catches for 50 yards and a TD. ... Frank Gore ran 13 times for 78 yards. ... The Patriots have won six straight Sunday night games.

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