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In trying to fool Patriots, Colts only made themselves look foolish

The Indianapolis Colts made the all-time blooper reel with their botched fake punt against New England, but theirs wasn't the only head-scratcher in a wild Week 6 of NFL games.

Some coaches made baffling decisions. Some players defied their critics. And, as is often the case, the league was predictably unpredictable.

First, the blunder that will live in perpetuity. The Colts had a mental meltdown in the third quarter of their home game against New England, lining up in a bizarre — and illegal — punt formation in hopes of either catching the Patriots with 12 men on the field or enticing them to jump offside.

The Colts, trailing by six, lined up in punt formation and then rolled nine of their players to the far right side of the field, leaving receiver Griff Whalen to line up as a center poised to snap the ball to safety Colt Anderson. The plan called for Whalen to snap the ball only if the Patriots panicked and sent an extra man on the field, thereby catching them for a penalty.

But it was Whalen who panicked, snapping the ball, and was overrun by defensive players who instantly converged on Anderson. All momentum shifted to the Patriots, who took full control of the game on their way to a 34-27 victory.

Colts Coach Chuck Pagano didn't lament the decision Monday except to say he should have had his players more ready.

"Not pleased obviously with the way I prepared the guys or coached the guys to go out and execute the play," he said. "I've talked about that at great lengths. I've got to be better. But I don't regret the play at all."

That was far from the only curious occurrence in a slate of games that had to have viewers rubbing their eyes and adjusting their pictures.

Other Week 6 curiosities and observations:

•There are five undefeated teams. That's the most through the first six weeks since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.

•Heading into Monday night's game, 47 games had been decided by a touchdown or less. That's tied for the second-most in league history through six weeks. There were also 47 in 2011, and the record is 50, in 1999.

•Carolina built a 4-0 record by beating struggling teams — Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans and Tampa Bay — so the broad assumption was the Panthers were flimsy in comparison to the other undefeated clubs. Carolina put a big dent in that theory Sunday, not only by winning at Seattle — something no visiting team had done since Week 6 of last season — but by going directly at the Seahawks' strength, their star-studded secondary.

•The way Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is playing, he's unquestionably a most-valuable-player candidate.

•Chicago Coach John Fox made some strange clock-management decisions at the end of regulation Sunday in Detroit. He had sufficient timeouts to stop the clock and save about 30 seconds to take a few shots at the end zone. Instead, the Bears forced the extra period by kicking a field goal on first down from the Lions' 11 with four seconds remaining. Detroit came away with a 37-34 overtime win.

•The way San Francisco's quarterback was slinging it Sunday against Baltimore, he looked like the Colin Kaepernick of old. In the week leading up to the game, two of his Hall of Fame 49ers predecessors publicly gave him conflicting pieces of advice. In a radio interview with Colin Cowherd, Joe Montana said Kaepernick should "beg coaches to go back to playing the game that he knows . . . where he's the best when he's moving and he's outside the pocket." But, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Steve Young said the quarterback shouldn't just rely on his legs but work on the "tedious stuff" associated with playing the position.

•Amazing that Denver's Peyton Manning has seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, yet the Broncos are 6-0. "He's got some decisions I know he'd like to have back," Coach Gary Kubiak said Monday. "When you're the quarterback, you're the guy pulling the trigger all the time. We know we have to improve in the turnover department."

•Miami had six sacks Sunday against Tennessee, five in the first half. Must have surprised the Titans, seeing as the Dolphins had just one sack in their first four games.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesfarmer

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