With a touch of bravado, Pierre Garcon told the remaining gallery that this was still a game.

After reeling in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dan Orlovsky with 2:12 left in the game, the receiver took a moment to pause and reach back.

Seeing a sign that said "Gronk Spike Zone" (In tribute to Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski), Garcon whipped the ball as hard as he could at the wall.

Call it a literal wake-up call.

"Just went into the playbook a lot more, more aggressive," said Garcon of the flurry of long passes to himself in the fourth quarter, that pulled the Colts to within 14 at that point.

A minute-and-26 seconds later, he would really get the Patriots attention with yet another touchdown catch that left the Colts down just seven with 36 seconds left and an onside kick to come.

"We've been down 31-3 with them before," said receiver Reggie Wayne of the game getting closer down the stretch. "You say to yourself there's no way it come down to this every time we play this team."

In the end, however, these 21 points in the final ten minutes couldn't overcome a bad 35 minutes in the middle that made this rally come up seven short in a 31-24 loss to New England Sunday afternoon.

"We felt confident going into the game that if we stayed patient we could move the ball," said Orlovsky, who finished his first Colts start with 30-of-37 with 353 yards with two touchdown and an interception. "That’s kind of what happened."

Indeed it was, with the Colts putting together a 19-play, 71 yard drive at the end of the first quarter into the second. The drive was soured, however, when the offense failed to get in the endzone with first-and-goal on the Patriots' one and the Colts had to settle for an Adam Vinatieri field goal.

"We would have been able to move the ball if we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot, and we got down to the one, and we did shoot ourselves in the foot," said offensive guard Ryan Diem of the sequence early in the second quarter. "The story of the season as far as I'm concerned."

Perhaps the next few quarters sum it up better. In that sequence the Colts turned it over twice and failed to get any points on the board. Meanwhile Tom Brady led the Patriots to 28 unanswered points to build the 31-3 lead as the team's headed to the fourth quarter.

In that time, the Colts defense sustained game-ending injuries to cornerback Jerraud Powers, linebacker Pat Angerer and nickel back Terrance Johnson.

"Now we're outmatched and now they're running no huddle and it was choas," said defensive end Dwight Freeney, but the defense had enough in them to pitch a shutout in the fourth quarter.

It was then the more wide-open Colts offense had a furious finish. Donald Brown started off the rally with a five yard touchdown that capped a 15-play, 88-yard drive. Garcon's spiking catch later in the fourth brought the Colts to within 14 and his second touchdown reception with 36 seconds left cut that lead in half.

After two failed onside kick attempts, however, it would be the middle struggles that would win out over the strong finish.

"Hats off to them, the executed their game plan," said Wayne of the Patriots. "They found a way to win the game."

Odds are they discovered it right in the middle.