FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski caught a pair of touchdowns, Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard returned interceptions for TDs, and Tom Brady threw for 300 yards for the 51st time in his career as the Patriots mauled Andrew Luck and the Colts, 59-24, at Gillette Stadium. It marked the second time this season that the Patriots reached the 50-point mark in a game, as the Pats improved upon their NFL-best scoring average. Brady finished 24-of-35 for 331 yards and three touchdowns and a rating of 126.7. Luck was not sharp, with several tipped passes over the middle, finishing 27-of-49 for 334 yards with three interceptions. It was the fifth time Luck went over 300 yards this season, the most by any rookie in NFL history.
The 59 points matched the franchise record 59-point game in a shutout win over the Titans on Oct. 18, 2009. Julian Edelman was also huge, returning a punt 68 yards for a game-tying touchdown, breaking a 47-yard run and recording five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. Gronkowski finished with seven catches on seven targets for 137 yards.
The Colts went up 7-0 when they took the game-opening drive and marched down the field 80 yards in seven plays. The key play was a pass interference call on Kyle Arrington on a deep post route by Donnie Avery. Arrington was benched in the second quarter as Alfonzo Dennard and Marquice Cole picked up the slack. The 40-yard penalty set the Colts up at the Patriots' 6. Two plays later, Delon Carter took it in from one yard for the game's first score.
Brady responded immediately, hooking up with Gronkowski three times for 56 yards, including a 36-yarder to the Colts' 23 and a 4-yard touchdown pass that tied the game, 7-7. It was Brady's 42nd consecutive game with at least one touchdown pass, third-most in NFL history. It was also Gronkowski's 36th TD, matching John Jefferson for the most in NFL history through his first three seasons. He would pass Jefferson in the third quarter.
The Colts came back to take the lead on a Luck-to-T.Y. Hilton connection in the back of the end zone, as Hilton slid while making the grab, with Talib trailing the play. The momentum then appeared to be going against the Patriots when Stephen Gostkowski missed a 34-yard field goal wide right.
But things changed drastically thanks to two big returns in the second quarter. Edelman took a low punt from Pat McAfee at the New England 32 and raced up the right sideline to take it in for the score. With the game tied, 14-14, Luck overthrew a wide open Reggie Wayne on the next series and Talib, playing behind Wayne, picked it off and ran toward the Patriots sideline before cutting back and following a pair of blocks to get into the end zone, giving the Patriots the lead, 21-14.
With the crowd booing Adam Vinatieri, he connected on a 47-yard field goal to bring the Colts within four, 21-17. Gostkowski connected on a 31-yard field goal to make it a seven-point game again. Vinatieri missed wide left on a 58-yard field goal attempt at the halftime gun as the Patriots took a 24-17 lead to the locker room for the second straight week.
The Patriots took the opening drive of the second half and marched 76 yards as Brady hit Gronkowski for a 31-yard completion to the Colts' 23. The drive was capped when Brady hit Edelman in the end zone for a 4-yard TD. Brady made it a 38-17 game when he found Gronkowski from 23 yards out, one play after Rob Ninkovich strip-sacked Luck and recovered the fumble. Alfonzo Dennard jumped in front of a pass intended for Wayne and ran it back 87 yards for the second pick-six of the day, the first time since 2002 the Patriots have accomplished the feat.
The Patriots now are a combined 18-0 in the second half of the season dating back to the season finale in 2009, when they lost at Houston. The Patriots improve to 7-3 on the season and have a very short week before taking on the 4-6 Jets on Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium.
The win was tempered by a report that Gronkowski, who left in the fourth quarter, has a broken forearm. Rookie defensive end Chandler Jones injured his right ankle and did not return after leaving in the first half.
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Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
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