New England keeps finding new ways to beat Indianapolis.
On Sunday night, it was Jonas Gray.
The third-string running back rushed for a career-high 199 yards and a franchise-record four touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a 42-20 victory over the Colts.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the second half of New England’s sixth consecutive victory, the last to Rob Gronkowski with 6:46 left. He was 19 of 30 for 257 yards with two interceptions as the Patriots earned their fifth consecutive win in the series.
“It’s kind of funny because on Saturday I walked into the building and Mr. (Robert) Kraft pulled me aside and said, `You’re going to have a big game this week so be ready,“’ said Gray, who played college football three hours away from Lucas Oil Stadium at Notre Dame. “Just hearing that from the owner and hearing that from the head coach, hearing that from the leader of the team, definitely gives you a positive outlook and definitely gives you the mindset to go out and do your best.”
Gray began the day with 32 carries, 131 yards and no touchdowns in his first three NFL games this season.
He wound up with as many rushing TDs as the rest of the league combined Sunday — shocking numbers from a player coach Bill Belichick acknowledged was on the verge of being cut in training camp.
Gray’s performance overshadowed a somewhat shaky first half from Brady, who was picked off twice, including deep in his own territory with 1:16 left in the second quarter.
“Whatever it takes,” Brady said. “There’s games that you go into and we’re not sure how well we’re going to run it. But when it’s going well, you just want to keep giving it to them. We try to stay balanced. But if they’re not going to respect the running game, then you have to keep giving it to them.”
The result could have major playoff implications for the Colts (6-4), who have now lost head-to-head matchups with Denver and AFC-best New England (8-2).
Andrew Luck was 23 of 39 for 303 yards and two TDs, running Colts’ franchise record for consecutive 300-yard games to eight. He needs one more to match Drew Brees’ NFL record.
Unlike Luck’s previous two losses in the series, when he accounted for eight turnovers by himself, he minimized the mistakes Sunday. The third-year quarterback threw one interception — costing the Colts a scoring chance when Darrelle Revis deflected a pass that was picked off by Devin McCourty.
It still wasn’t enough.
Belichick followed the same tack he used in last season’s 21-point playoff victory over Indy — overpowering the Colts with the run. New England rushed for 244 yards, compared to 19 yards on 17 carries for the Colts.
“Very disappointed, not acceptable by any means,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “I felt like we played better than we did, but any time you give up the rushing yards we gave up and can’t get off the field and they go 5 for 5 in the red area again, give them credit. They beat us soundly.”