Patriots preparing for indoor showdown vs. Colts
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) No matter what the weather conditions are, the New England Patriots rarely lose at home.
Practicing in the rain, wind and cold prepares them for games in often frosty Foxborough.
”We’ve used our weather as a great home field advantage,” quarterback Tom Brady said Wednesday. ”So it’s nice to play in the elements because I think we deal with them probably better than most teams.”
He can leave the gloves and long underwear at home this week when the Patriots (7-2) travel to Indianapolis in their second straight game between division leaders on Sunday night.
The Colts (6-3) play in Lucas Oil Stadium with its retractable roof.
Brady has lost both games he played there – during the 2009 regular season and in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants in the 2011 season.
He’s 4-4 in his career in indoor games, including the postseason.
On Wednesday, coach Bill Belichick held a rare practice inside the Patriots bubble to prepare for the calm conditions in Indianapolis.
”It seems like all season coach has had meetings about what the weather is going to be and how the wind is going to affect the game and if it rains how the rain is going to affect the game,” Brady said. ”It is a little bit of a breather where you’re playing in a dome where everything is controlled.”
It would be a much greater relief if the Patriots were at home.
They’re 42-3 in their last 45 regular-season games at Gillette Stadium since Brady returned for the 2009 opener from a knee injury that ended his 2008 season in the first game.
In that same period, they’re 26-18 on the road in the regular season.
The home-road disparity continued in last season’s playoffs. New England won at home in the divisional round, beating Indianapolis 43-22. But in the AFC championship game in Denver, the Patriots lost to the Broncos 26-16.
The road can be rough.
”Traveling, the crowd noise, getting your body adjusted to the time zone or the flight, whatever it is,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said. ”(I’ve) done it many times now, so (I) know how to do it and just have to overcome it.”
The Patriots were 1-2 this season in their first three road games before winning at Buffalo 37-22 to improve to 4-2 overall. Then they played three straight at home, winning them all and extending their streak to seven victories.
The last one came Nov. 2 with the temperature 35 degrees at kickoff with winds gusting to 26 mph. They won 43-21 over Denver, which entered the game as the NFL’s highest scoring team.
Now the Colts lead the league in points.
”You’re not going to be able to score 13 points and win the game” on Sunday night, Brady said.
The Patriots have scored more than that in each game this season and are averaging 40.2 points during their five-game winning streak.
After last week’s bye, they play three of their next four games on the road at Indianapolis, Green Bay and San Diego.
And the Colts can control the heat in their stadium.
”They crank it up a little bit,” wide receiver Julian Edelman said, ”but it’s definitely fun not to play in 35 mile-an-hour, gusty winds and snow and rain.”
The Patriots will have to deal with a loud crowd that makes it tougher for Brady to communicate smoothly with his offense.
”If you’re just a little bit late anticipating things then the defense has such a significant advantage,” he said. ”You’ve got to work harder and concentrate more on exactly what we’re doing.”
First, though, the Patriots must board a plane, check into a hotel, get up in the morning and travel by bus to the opponent’s stadium.
”They don’t have to travel and have all this and that,” Edelman said. ”It’s usually just comfortability. Is that a word? It is now. There you go. It’s being comfortable and it’s always a little different going on the road.”
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