Every week, PFW associate editor and Patriots writer Kevin Fishbain will identify three up-and-comers and three players/units going in the opposite direction in the Patriots stock report.
1. WR Matthew Slater: Slater was Bill Belichick's latest gimmick, with the wideout/special-teams captain getting a start at safety. The unit's pass defense wasn't good, but Slater had seven tackles and a forced fumble, showing his versatility to jump into the starting role on defense.
2. DT Vince Wilfork: Sometimes interior defensive linemen don't get 10 tackles for an entire season, and Wilfork recorded 10 on Sunday, leading the team. He had a sack as well and his penetration was key in keeping the Colts' run game grounded (3.2-yard rushing average).
3. Penalties: The Patriots, uncharacteristically, were flagged often earlier in the season, averaging 6.8 penalties over their first nine games. They were flagged just three times on Sunday, marking the third game in a row with only three penalties.
1. Run game: The Steelers, Ravens and Texans likely enjoyed seeing how the Patriots did not move the ball well on the ground. Those potential playoff opponents in the AFC now have further evidence that the Pats are one-dimensional. Against the Colts' 31st-ranked defense, the Patriots rushed for 73 yards on 24 carries (3.0-yard average). The longest run by a Patriot was eight yards by Stevan Ridley. They didn't play in the second half, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead combined for 26 rushing yards on 10 carries.
2. Passing defense: The secondary is still not at full strength without Patrick Chung, but that's no excuse to allowing 353 passing yards to Dan Orlovsky. What was most jarring from Orlovsky's numbers was that he threw only seven incompletions all day and led drives of 86, 93 and 90 yards, respectively, in the fourth quarter.
3. Third-down defense: Similar to No. 2, but the Patriots haven't seemed to get this situated. Giving up a host of passing yards is one thing, but an inability to get off the field on third down will crush a defense's spirits. The Colts converted 10-of-15 third downs and the Patriots are 30th in the league in third-down defense.