INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts were closer than they had ever been in the Andrew Luck era to the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter Sunday. Then they tried to get cute, and it cost them seven points and the chance to end their six-game losing streak to the Patriots, as they fell 34-27 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts were only down six points when they lined up for what should have been a punt at their own 37-yard line. Instead, they had everybody, including punter Pat McAfee, lined up out wide to the right, with only Griff Whalen as the center and Colt Anderson lined up under him to take the snap.
Whalen hiked it to Anderson, who was immediately tackled, which gave Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a short field to work with. Brady made the Colts pay six plays later, when he threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to running back LeGarrette Blount to put New England up 34-21. Game over, and the streak continues for Indianapolis.
Had the fourth-down call been successful, it wouldn't have counted because the Colts were called for illegal formation.
What it means: The good news is the Colts didn't lose by 29 points, like they did in the previous four meetings against the Patriots. But there's no such thing as a moral victory. The Colts have now lost seven straight games, including five with quarterback Andrew Luck, to New England.
What were they thinking? The biggest head scratcher was the horrendous play on fourth down, but the Colts didn't help themselves with penalties on offense. They were called for 11 penalties totaling 103 yards.
One reason to get excited: Running back Frank Gore continues to give the Colts something in the backfield. He followed up his 98-yard performance against the St. Louis Rams by rushing for 78 yards on 13 attempts.
One reason to panic: Luck, who was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with a right shoulder injury, was back to holding the ball too long in the pocket. That played a part in the Patriots' sacking him three times.
Fantasy watch: Luck was 30-of-50 for 312 yards and three touchdowns without throwing any interceptions. He entered the game having thrown 10 interceptions in his previous four meetings against the Patriots.
Ouch: The Colts lost starting safety Mike Adams in the second half to a hamstring injury and safety Clayton Geathers to a knee injury. Adams returned a Brady interception 14 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.