It was expected to be the marquee matchup of NFL Week 11, pitting future hall-of-fame pivot Tom Brady against this season’s leading passer, young gun Andrew Luck. Instead, Sunday’s matchup between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts was highlighted by a breakthrough smash mouth performance by Patriots’ rusher Jonas Gray.
In just his fourth NFL appearance, Gray exploded for 199 yards and four TDs on 38 carries, leading the Pats to a 42-20 beat down of the Colts, while becoming the first NFL player since 1921 to score four rushing touchdowns in a game which he entered with zero career TDs.
The victory should strike fear into their AFC rivals. It was New England’s sixth straight win, 5-1 ATS, improving their record to 8-2, tops in the conference, If Gray and the Patriots’ offensive line can continue their strong play, it provides New England with an added offensive dimension that makes them an even harder team to defend against.
The Pats’ hot streak has also strengthened their Super Bowl odds at sportsbooks available through www.bettingsports.com. New England now joins the favorites with odds of 9/2, trailing only the Green Bay Packers, after slipping to a distant 16/1 following a rocky start to their campaign.
The visit to Indianapolis was just the fourth game of Gray’s young NFL career. Following a solid senior year at Notre Dame in 2011, in which he run for 791 yards and 12 TDs, the diminutive Gray was overlooked in the 2012 NFL Draft, but was later signed as an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins.
Gray would see no action with Miami due to a knee injury and was cut by the Dolphins prior to the start of last season. The 24 year-old was later picked up by Baltimore and spent last season on the Ravens’ practice squad before joining the Patriots in the off-season.
After starting this season on the practice squad, Gray was signed to the Patriots’ active roster prior to the team’s Week 7 matchup with the New York Jets.
Gray was used sparingly in his first three appearances, running the ball just 32 times for a total of 131 yards. But against the Colts, Gray became the key component in coach Bill Belichick’s strategy to surprise Indy with an atypical game plan where the Pats would attack the middle with smash mouth football.
With the Patriots’ offensive line putting on perhaps their finest performance of the season, the Patriots’ silenced the naysayers who have pointed out New England’s weak road record, just 5-7 SU in their 12 road dates prior to their tilt with Indianapolis.
Following New England’s Week 12 home date with the Detroit Lions, the squad again hits the road for a pair of crucial tests. The Patriots travel to Lambeau Field to face the Packers in what may be the most highly anticipated matchup of the NFL regular season and a possible preview of this year’s Super Bowl.
The Packers have been simply dominant in their last two home dates, scoring a combined 108 points in record-setting lopsided wins over the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia.
The Patriots then follow up with a trip to sunny San Diego for a Week 14 matchup with the Chargers, who have struggled to produce offense after a strong 5-1 start to their season.by