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Defense still a trouble spot for Patriots

By The Sports Xchange
Defense still a trouble spot for Patriots
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) dodges a tackle by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin on a reception in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on October 4, 2018. The Patriots defeated the Colts 38-24. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Playing against an Indianapolis Colts offense that was missing four starters, the New England Patriots still struggled defensively in Thursday night's 38-24 victory.

The Patriots allowed 449 yards overall and 365 yards yard through the air to the Colts, who were playing without running back Marlon Mack, wide receiver T.Y Hilton, tight end Jack Doyle and left tackle Anthony Castonzo.

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New England struggled to cover tight end Eric Ebron, who had nine catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Chester Rogers had eight catches for 66 yards and tight end Erik Swoope, activated from the practice squad on Wednesday, finished with three catches for 44 yards. Swoope had another TD called back because he was ruled down inside the 1-yard line.

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Without cornerback Eric Rowe, who has struggled tremendously this season, Jason McCourty has been serviceable in his place for the Patriots. Jonathan Jones has been inconsistent.

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The only positive for New England was that the secondary made some plays. Jones and Patrick Chung each had an interception and Devin McCourty caused a fumble.

The Patriots' pass rush was limited and the coverage was mediocre. It didn't help that defensive tackle Malcom Brown (knee) left in the second quarter. The team is still trying to find combinations that work up front and it would help if defensive end Adrian Clayborn applied some pressure. New England had one sack, with Chung and Trey Flowers combining in the first half.

VINATIERI RETURNS: Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, 45, is a true legend of the game. Vinatieri missed his first field goal of 38 yards as it hit off the left upright. Vinatieri responded, though, and he hit a 54-yard field goal in the second quarter.

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Vinatieri surpassed Gary Anderson (672) for the second-most field goal attempts in league history. Vinatieri's NFL record of 226 wins was tied by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Thursday night.

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"There's a lot of people who have meant a lot to this organization, but certainly nobody more than Tom Brady. Adam -- the time he was here was fabulous," said New England coach Bill Belichick. "He made some of the biggest kicks in the history of the game. Certainly one of the toughest, but he made a lot of them. We wouldn't have won a lot of the games that we won without great players like that or some of the other guys that have been out here the last couple of weeks.

" ... I can't imagine a kicker more deserving of whatever the highest accolade you could get than him and the same is true for Tom. His records are incredible."

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NOTES: Inactives for the Patriots were CB Eric Rowe, CB Cyrus Jones, DL Keionta Davis, DL Geneo Grissom, DL Derek Rivers, OL Cole Croston and OL Ted Karras. ... Among the inactives for the Colts were four starters -- RB Marlon Mack, WR T.Y Hilton, TE Jack Doyle and LT Anthony Castonzo. ... Former Patriots LB Willie McGinest was at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night. On Friday night, "Willie McGinest, A Football Life" premieres on NFL Network.

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