October 21, 2012

2001: Patten Runs, Catches, and Passes for TDs as Patriots Rip Colts

The New England Patriots brought a 2-3 record into their October 21, 2001 game at Indianapolis. The biggest story of their season thus far had been the injury to starting QB Drew Bledsoe that propelled unknown backup Tom Brady into the starting lineup. In the second year under Head Coach Bill Belichick the club was still viewed as a work in progress.

The Colts had been to the postseason the previous two years under Head Coach Jim Mora but had been badly beaten by the Patriots two weeks earlier and then, after their bye week, had lost to Oakland to fall to 2-2. Fourth-year QB Peyton Manning was already considered to be one of the NFL’s best, as was RB Edgerrin James in his third year. But the defense was becoming a source of concern.

There was a crowd of 56,022 at the RCA Dome. The Colts had first possession and drove to the New England 28, with the big play being a pass from Manning to TE Ken Dilger that gained 25 yards, but Mike Vanderjagt’s 46-yard field goal attempt was blocked and returned 35 yards by New England CB Leonard Myers to give the Patriots excellent starting field position at the Indianapolis 29. They made the most of it in short order as WR David Patten took the ball on an end-around play and raced around right end for the 29-yard touchdown.

The Colts again drove into New England territory on their next possession as Edgerrin James ran effectively and caught a pass from Manning. Vanderjagt booted a 42-yard field goal to get the home team on the board.

The Patriots punted to end their next series and Indianapolis appeared set to score again when Manning threw to WR Marvin Harrison for a 68-yard gain to the New England two. However, the Colts weren’t able to punch into the end zone and, following a sack of Manning by LB Mike Vrabel for a six-yard loss on third down, Vanderjagt again had a field goal attempt blocked, this time by safety Tebucky Jones on a 25-yard try, and the score remained 7-3 after a quarter of play.

The teams traded punts to start the second quarter, but after the Patriots took possession on their own nine yard line following a 34-yard kick by Hunter Smith, it was Patten again making a big play as he pulled in a pass from Brady at the 48 and went the distance for a 91-yard touchdown. With another successful extra point by Adam Vinatieri, it was 14-3 in favor of New England.

Following a short series by the Colts, it was Patten striking again on the Patriots’ next play from scrimmage, this time throwing an option pass to WR Troy Brown for a 60-yard touchdown. David Patten had accounted for a touchdown in three different ways – by rushing, receiving, and passing – and in each instance it was on the first play of a New England possession. He had almost singlehandedly staked the Patriots to a 21-3 lead that would prove insurmountable for the Colts.

Things got worse for Indianapolis when James fumbled on the next series and LB Tedy Bruschi recovered for the Patriots at the Colts’ 24. Six plays later Brady passed to TE Jermaine Wiggins for a two-yard TD. While the Colts managed to score once more on a 42-yard Vanderjagt field goal before the period was over, New England went into halftime leading by a 28-6 margin, even though the offense’s time of possession was just eight minutes. The frustrated home crowd booed the Colts heavily as they headed for the locker room.

The second half was anticlimactic. The Colts drove to a two-yard Manning-to-Harrison touchdown pass followed by a successful two-point conversion that made it 28-14. The Patriots responded with a 43-yard field goal by Vinatieri. Indianapolis again reached scoring territory but, after having a first down at the New England 12, was unable to penetrate the end zone and settled for a 24-yard Vanderjagt field goal. Early in the fourth quarter, Brady tossed another TD pass to Patten, this time from six yards out, and that was it. Another drive by the Colts ended with Manning fumbling the ball away while being sacked by DE Bobby Hamilton after reaching the New England 16, and the Patriots were able to eat up almost all of the remaining time with an 18-play possession. New England came away with a big 38-17 win.

The Colts led in total yards (484 to 385) and first downs (28 to 19) but were beaten by big plays and blocked kicks (prior to the two blocked field goals in the first quarter, Mike Vanderjagt had had only two of his previous 100 attempts blocked). They had difficulty scoring when they got inside the red zone and turned the ball over twice while New England suffered no turnovers. The Patriots sacked Peyton Manning four times while the Colts never got to Tom Brady.

David Patten was the biggest star for the Patriots as he became the first player since Walter Payton of the Bears in 1979 to account for a touchdown by rushing, receiving, and passing in the same NFL game. His overall statistics were four catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns, one rushing attempt for 29 yards and a TD, and one pass completion for a 60-yard score.

Tom Brady had a fine performance, completing 16 of 20 passes for 202 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Troy Brown caught 8 passes for 120 yards and TD. RB Antowain Smith led the rushing attack with 71 yards on 21 carries.

Several noteworthy offensive performances for the Colts went to waste. Peyton Manning was successful on 22 of 34 throws for 335 yards and a TD with none intercepted. Edgerrin James gained 143 yards on 30 rushing attempts. Marvin Harrison had 8 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown.

“It started out bad with the blocked field goal and it didn’t get a whole lot better,” summed up Jim Mora for the Colts.

It did get better for the Colts with wins over the next two weeks, but they were followed with seven losses in the last nine games. Indianapolis sank to 6-10 and a fourth place finish in their last AFC East season, which also was the end for Jim Mora’s coaching reign.

New England, on the other hand, lost its next game but then won eight of nine to win the AFC East with an 11-5 record. The improbable climb continued to a Super Bowl upset of the St. Louis Rams.

Rising quickly out of obscurity, Tom Brady had a Pro Bowl year, completing 63.9 percent of his passes for 2843 yards with 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

David Patten caught 51 passes for 749 yards (14.7 avg.) and four touchdowns. He ran the ball five times for 67 yards with the TD against the Colts his only one of the year (and, for that matter, his career) and had one other passing attempt, which was intercepted. Formerly with the Giants and Browns, the undersized (5’10”, 190) but fast fifth-year wide receiver went on to play a total of four seasons in New England where he was a member of three championship squads.