INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts, who won only three games last season, gained their third victory this year and a piece of first place in the AFC East.
Jack Trudeau, winless in 12 previous NFL starts, threw a touchdown pass, and Albert Bentley ran for a score Sunday to lead the Colts to a 30-14 win over the New England Patriots.
"The monkey was riding hard, and I got it off my back," Trudeau said as the regulars won for the first time in three games.
The Colts, who ended a six-game losing streak to the Patriots over the past three seasons, joined New England, Buffalo and the New York Jets at 3-3 atop the division.
"We may be tied, but really we're ahead," Colts defensive back Nesby Glasgow said. "Since we have already beaten New England, Buffalo and the Jets, they're all chasing us now."
Trudeau completed 17 of 28 passes for 239 yards, while another former Illinois passer, New England's Tony Eason, was 22 of 42 for 246 yards. Trudeau, a second-year pro, was starting because of an injury to Gary Hogeboom.
The game was the first for Indianapolis Coach Ron Meyer against his former team. Raymond Berry replaced Meyer exactly three years ago. Meyer, criticized by Patriot players, was fired despite New England's 5-3 start.
"This was a 45-man victory," said Meyer, who took over with the Colts 0-13 last year and directed a 3-0 finish. "I was very pleased with everyone's performance."
Berry was not happy with his team's two lost fumbles and an interception that killed two drives and gave the Colts a touchdown when Donnell Thompson ran 28 yards for a score after recovering a fumble.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times and the Colts played very good football," Berry said. "They made more plays and fewer mistakes. We need to do a good job of getting back to the basics and a better job of executing."
Berry, however, said the teams were in surprisingly good condition despite a month of inactivity due to the NFL players strike.
The Colts kept seven players from their strike replacement team and two of them, both defensive backs, made key contributions in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory.
Former replacement Terry Wright blocked a punt with 5:39 to play. Bentley scored four plays later on a 12-yard run to give the Colts a 30-16 lead. Then ex-substitute Mike Prior intercepted a pass in the final minutes to end the final New England threat.
"Staying together during the strike pulled us even closer together," Bentley said. "It made us a better team. We're going to win games because of it."
Glasgow, the Colts' player representative and strike leader, agreed.
"The biggest thing the strike did was bring us together," he said.