There would be no distracting Tom Brady in the Deflategate rematch Sunday night in Lucas Oil Stadium.
After being accused of playing a role in New England using partially deflated footballs in 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.
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, 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 with 10:56 remaining in the period. 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 lined up far to the right side of the formation 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.
Indianapolis fell to 1-2 at home this season, as its lost to the New York Jets on Sept. 21 in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola caught seven passes for 105 yards.
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 capped by 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 with 11:30 on the clock.
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.