New York Post


Colts’ bonehead trick play helps Brady, Pats avenge Deflategat­e whistle-blowing


INDIANAPOL­IS — What the Chuck?!

What was supposed to be a game in which a vengeful Tom Brady and the Patriots embarrasse­d the Colts turned out to be the Colts embarrassi­ng themselves with one of the most bizarre trick plays in NFL history Sunday night in a 3427 New England victory.

Indianapol­is coach Chuck Pagano’s inexplicab­le decision to set up a fake punt late in the third quarter blew up in his face and blew any chance of the Colts pulling off the upset in the muchantici­pated Deflategat­e rematch at Lucas Oil Stadium.

With his team down 2721 and facing fourthand3 from his 37yard line, Pagano was trying to lure the Patriots offside by shifting all of his linemen except impromptu snapper Griff Whalen to the other side of the field.

But the plan backfired catastroph­ically when Whalen, a 190pound wide receiver — despite having two defenders in his face and two more right behind them — decided to snap the ball to backup safety Colt Anderson, who immediatel­y was swarmed for a 1yard loss.

The Patriots, clinging to an unexpected­ly tight 2721 lead, needed just six plays to convert the Colts’ boneheaded mistake into an 11yard touchdown pass to LeGarrette Blount that blew the game open.

That momentous sequence also allowed New England (50) to go into this week’s AFC East showdown with the Jets in Foxborough, Mass., with their unbeaten record and remarkable momentum intact.

“I take responsibi­lity there,” Pa gano said of the fakepunt debacle. “The whole idea is, on a fourthand3 or less, you shift to an alignment where you either catch them misaligned or … with 12 men on the field.

“We shifted over, and I didn’t do a good enough job of coaching it during the week. Alignmentw­ise, we weren’t lined up correctly. And then a communicat­ion breakdown between the quarterbac­k and the snapper, and that’s all on me.”

Brady wasn’t perfect — he was picked off for the first time all season — but had another prolific outing (23 of 37 for 312 yards and three TDs) and got revenge on the team whose complaint to the NFL in last January’s AFC Championsh­ip game touched off seven months of 77. Deflategat­e drama.

Andrew Luck’s futility against the Patriots, meanwhile, continued unabated. Returning from a twogame absence due to shoulder issues, Luck played well (30 of 50 for 312 yards and three TDs), but still fell to 05 in his young career against the Patriots. That followed a highly entertain ing first half in which the Colts showed they had no plans to follow the script and roll over.

That was clear from the game’s opening drive, when a firedup Luck connected on 8 of 9 passes to five different receivers as part of a 13play, 89 yard TD march that took up nearly eight minutes.

Brady and the Patriots didn’t waste any time answering. Brady went 6for8 for 69 yards on the ensuing possession, capping it with a 12yard scoring toss to Julian Edelman that quickly knotted things at 7-7.

Those two marches were just an appetizer, though, for a breathless and breakneck second quarter that featured Brady’s first intercepti­on of the season, a debatable onside-kick ruling and four lead changes before it was over. Actually, it was the first Brady pass picked off since the first half of the AFC title game — and it wasn’t his fault. His pass deflected off Edelman and into the arms of Colts safety Mike Adams, who returned it 14 yards for a shocking score that put Indy back in front 1410 with 11:37 left.

Pagano kept his foot on the pedal, too, following the Adams score with an onside kick. It didn’t work (the ball was awarded to New England despite what looked like a fumble on replay), but the gutsy call showed the Colts would be pulling out all the stops on this night.

But Pagano and Indy ended up getting too cute for their own good on the pivotal fake punt.

“Obviously, it played a huge factor in this loss given the field position, the point in the game and the touchdown that resulted from that,” a glum Pagano said.

 ??  ?? BLOUNT FORCE: LaGarrette Blount dives into the end zone for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ win over the Colts — shortly after Indianapol­is had an epic fail on a fake punt (inset).
BLOUNT FORCE: LaGarrette Blount dives into the end zone for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ win over the Colts — shortly after Indianapol­is had an epic fail on a fake punt (inset).

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