There would be no distracting Brady in the Deflategate rematch, still a very sore subject in the Hoosier State.
Accused of playing a role in New England using partially deflated footballs during an AFC title game victory over Indianapolis in January, Brady answered his critics with three touchdown passes -- two during the second half -- while leading the Patriots to a 34-27 triumph Sunday night.
Avoiding Deflategate talk, Brady focused on the latest victory, not the one in January that prompted the most controversy of his storied career.
"(The Colts defense) played pretty good," Brady said. "I thought they competed really hard. Our execution was off at times, so it was a good win. They definitely did some things to challenge us. Obviously, this was a good win on the road."
The Colts (3-3) set up two New England touchdowns with special teams mistakes -- a failed onside kick in the first half and a failed fake punt from their own 37-yard line with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Brady, who completed 23 of 37 passes for 312 yards and an interception, directed a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to begin the third quarter, capping it with a 25-yard scoring pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots (5-0) grabbed a 27-21 lead on the play.
Later in the quarter, the Colts lined up in an unusual punt formation, with nine players standing to the far right side on a fourth-and-2 situation. The ball was snapped to special teams player Colt Anderson, who was tackled for a 1-yard loss, giving the ball to Brady and the prolific New England offense at the Indianapolis 35.
Six plays later, Brady threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to running back LeGarrette Blount (16 carries, 95 yards) with 12:48 left in the fourth quarter.
In his first start since sustaining a shoulder injury in a Sept. 27 victory at Tennessee, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck completed 30 of 50 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He hit wide receiver Griff Whalen for an 18-yard score with 1:19 remaining to trim the deficit to 34-27, but Gronkowski recovered Indianapolis' onside kick attempt, and the Patriots ran out the clock.
"It was a disappointing second half," said Luck, who was only 13 of 28 for 172 yards and one touchdown during the final 30 minutes. "We needed a couple more of those nice drives from the first half in the second half.
"For us to beat (New England), it takes us playing better football. That's a great team. I felt great. I'm ready to get right back at it."
Indianapolis fell to 1-2 at home this season, as its lost to the New York Jets on Sept. 21 in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano blamed himself for the fake punt, saying there was a communication breakdown on the play. He also thought Indianapolis recovered the first-half onside kick that set up a New England touchdown.
"I obviously didn't coach it well enough during the week," Pagano said of the fake punt. "We were going to be aggressive this game, and they out-executed us. We started fast, got a pick-six but struggled with our third-down defense in the first half and then sputtered on offense in the third quarter."
Asked about the partially deflated footballs in the teams' January meeting, Pagano at first said he knew nothing about it. Then, he downplayed the issue.
"It had nothing to do with this game," Pagano said. "That was a long time ago."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said recognizing the punt fake was one of the game's biggest plays.
"That special teams group works really hard," Belichick said. "We expected this to be a gadget game in the kicking game. The onside kick and then some kind of fake with a punt or a field goal. You know, their punter ran the sweep against Tennessee a couple of weeks ago, so it is something they have done in the past.
"We didn't know what the play was going to be, obviously, but it was a good heads-up play by our punt return unit."
The New England offense also did its job, producing 417 total yards. Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola caught seven passes for 105 yards.
"You've got to give our players a lot of credit," Belichick said. "They played well tonight, but we've got to find a way to play better."
Luck was 17 of 22 for 140 yards and two touchdowns during the first half, including a 3-yarder to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton with 2:38 remaining in the second quarter to give the Colts a 21-17 lead. That score capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive.
Brady countered by driving the Patriots 63 yards in nine plays for a 35-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal with two seconds left in the half, slicing the deficit to 21-20.
Tight end Scott Chandler appeared to score on a 7-yard pass from Brady but was called for offensive pass interference, negating a play that would have given the Patriots a halftime lead.
Each team scored a touchdown on its first possession.
Luck capped a 13-play, 89-yard opening drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donte Moncrief on a fourth-down play.
Brady came right back with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that concluded with a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman.
A 40-yard Gostkowski field goal with 13:48 left in the first half gave New England a 10-7 lead.
Colts safety Mike Adams returned an interception of Brady 14 yards for a touchdown that gave Indianapolis a 14-10 lead.
Blount ran 38 yards for a touchdown with 9:33 remaining in the half, capping a four-play, 65-yard drive after the Colts attempted an onside kick following the Adams interception. That gave New England a brief 17-14 advantage.
NOTES: Colts S Mike Adams sustained a hamstring injury late in the first half. ... New England beat Indianapolis for the seventh consecutive meeting by a collective score of 285-152, including twice in 2014 by a combined score of 87-27. ... The Patriots played without inactives WR Aaron Dobson, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Rufus Johnson, OL Ryan Wendell , DL Khyri Thornton, DL Geneo Grissom and DL Trey Flowers. ... The Colts were without inactives CB Shaun Prater, RB Josh Robinson, ILB Nate Irving, G Lance Louis, OT Denzelle Good, OLB Bjoern Werner and NT Zach Kerr.