Three return TDs spark Patriots in rout of Colts
The New England Patriots returned a punt and two interceptions for a touchdown, en route to a 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Delone Carter got the Colts on the board first with a one-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the contest. After New England tied the game, Andrew Luck threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton for a 14-7 late in the quarter.
After Stephen Gostkowski missed a 36-yard field goal, the Patriots forced Indianapolis to punt. New England's Julian Edelman broke down the right sideline 68 yards for the tying touchdown.
Two plays later, Aqib Talib returned intercepted a Luck pass and returned it 59 yards for the Patriots' second touchdown in just over a minute and a 21-14 lead.
Adam Vinatieri answered for the Colts with a 47-yard field goal. A 31-yard Gostkowski field goal extended the lead to 24-17 just after the two-minute warning.
Vinatieri missed a 58-yard field goal as the half expired.
Colts wide receiver Donnie Avery suffered a concussion in the first half and will not return to the game.
The Patriots pushed their lead to 31-17 on the first drive of the second half. Tom Brady threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Edelman for the score.
Later in the quarter, former Purdue Boilermaker Rob Ninkovich stripped Luck and recovered the fumble deep in Indianapolis territory. On the next play, Brady found tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 24-yard touchdown and 38-17 lead.
On the first play of the final period, Alfonzo Dennard returned a Luck interception 87 yards for another score.
Luck answered with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hilton, cutting the lead to 45-24 with just under 13 minutes to play.
After a 47-yard run on a reverse by Edelman, Stevan Ridley scored from three yards out to give New England a 52-24 lead. On the next drive, Shane Vereen got into the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run that made it 59-24 Patriots.
Luck's third interception - and fourth turnover - of the game turned the ball back over to the Patriots just before the two-minute warning.
"You better remember it. You better damn sure remember it. Because you hope to be back here and you don't want to forget it. You don't throw things away in the business, you learn from it," said head coach Bruce Arians after the loss.
"We like to think that we have a chance to win if we could play them again, but they whipped our butts tonight and all the credit goes to them. They were the much better team tonight," Luck said.
Luck completed 27 of 50 passes in the game for 334 yards and the two touchdowns to Hilton. He was intercepted three times and lost the fumble that set up the Gronkowski touchdown. Gronkowski said after the game that he suffered a broken forearm in the game.
The Colts fall to 6-4 on the season. They will host Buffalo next Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Colts inactives for Sunday against the New England Patriots.
EXPECTED LINEUP CHANGES FOR COLTS:
Weslye Saunders starts at TE for Coby Fleener
Cassius Vaughn starts at CB for Vontae Davis
Andrew Luck needs one more 300 game to set the NFL rookie record. He currently is tied with Peyton Manning (4, 1998) for the club and NFL record by a rookie quarterback.
Luck needs 369 passing yards to join Manning (3,739, 1998) as the only Colts rookies to throw for 3,000 yards. He needs 119 completions and 1,109 yards to eclipse Manning's rookie club records (326; 3,739).
Earlier this year, Luck joined Cam Newton as the only players with three 300 games in the first four games of a career. Against Miami in week nine, Luck threw for 433 yards to eclipse Newton's (432) previous NFL rookie record.
Luck has taken every offensive snap and has had a major hand in the club's successes. He became the first NFL rookie quarterback since 1971 to lead a September fourth-quarter comeback win in the club's week two triumph over Minnesota.
After the Green Bay win, Luck became the first NFL rookie to pass for 1,200 yards (1,208) and record at least two wins in his team's first four games. After the Cleveland win, he was the first NFL rookie with 1,500 passing yards (1,674) and three wins in a team's first six games.
After the Tennessee win, Luck had the highest winning percentage (.571) by a rookie quarterback who was a top overall pick through week eight in NFL history.