The Patriots should get starting center David Andrews (concussion) back after their bye, and that’ll go a long way toward stabilizing this unit. But they have some important questions to answer up front. Is the Wynn right tackle experiment officially over? What should the Patriots do with Strange — their top 2022 draft pick — now that he’s been benched in back-to-back games? Are they comfortable enough in Cajuste to keep him in the starting lineup? Would they consider shifting Mike Onwenu to right tackle, with Wynn potentially slotting in at right guard?
Elsewhere, the Patriots again got next to nothing from receivers not named Jakobi Meyers, with Thornton, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and elevated practice combining squadder Lynn Bowden for four catches on eight targets for 16 yards while starter DeVante Parker sat out with a knee injury . Meyers caught five passes on six targets for 42 yards and lost a fumble.
New England’s only two 20-plus-yard gains came courtesy of tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, who had a 24-yard catch-and-run off a well-executed screen pass and a 30-yarder up the seam, respectively. Rhamondre Stevenson rushed 15 times for 60 yards and caught three of his seven targets for 10 yards and the Patriots’ lone touchdown. The newly promoted JJ Taylor complemented Stevenson with Damien Harris (illness) unavailable, finishing with just 9 yards on 10 carries but making a great hustle play to recover a Bourne fumble.
x. Patriots’ special teams get their revenge
The Patriots spoke this week about how the Colts “dominated” them in the kicking game when these teams met last season. Indianapolis returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in that game en route to a 27-17 win.
New England flipped that script in Sunday’s rematch. The Patriots got a 23-yard punt return and a 32-yard kickoff return from Marcus Jones, four field goals from Nick Folk and, poetically, a blocked punt by Jonathan Jones, which Brenden Schooler recovered just shy of Indy’s goal line to set to Stevenson’s second-quarter touchdown reception.
Folk, last week’s AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, is a perfect 9-for-9 on field-goal attempts over the last two games, singlehandedly outscoring the rest of the Patriots’ offense during that span. Colts kicker Chase McLaughlin, meanwhile, shanked a 39-yard field goal, tilting the scales further toward New England.
The only knock against the Patriots here was more wonky punting from Jake Bailey, including a puzzling fourth-quarter shank that traveled just 7 yards.