FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots certainly didn’t have much time to enjoy Sunday night’s 31-28 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. By the time the stadium lights went out, the coaching staff was full bore onto the next opponent.

That’s because the Patriots play at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

“Great, great feeling to win that game,” said Bill Belichick, the coach of the Patriots. “We got a quick turnaround here so we’ll enjoy it for a couple of hours.”

Not that anyone on the team was complaining. Playing on Thanksgiving, they say, is an honor.

“This is the fourth time I’ll have played on Thanksgiving,” said tight end Alge Crumpler, who appeared previously with the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans. “And I’ve always enjoyed it. Think about it.

“Opening week, Thanksgiving, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Those are the epitome of what football is all about. I’m excited about it”

Today will be a scouting report day, said Belichick. “Then Tuesday will be a Wednesday-Thursday-Friday combined, and Wednesday will be a travel day,” he said. “We’ll have to cram a lot. The Lions have a lot to study for, real explosive offensively. We’ve got our work cut out for in preparation for that.”

Belichick added that it was an honor to play on Thanksgiving Day. He knows how much it means in Massachusetts, where high schools play their rival in the morning.

“Thanksgiving is a great day for football,” he said. “It a great day for everybody to be with their family and eat turkey and watch football. That’s kind of what that holiday is.

“It’s a great day for all of us to be thankful for all the opportunities we have, particularly for the opportunity to play in the National Football League. Me personally to be with the Patriots, to be here, the opportunity that Robert (Kraft, Patriots owner) and his family have given me.”

And while the Patriots (8-2) will be heavily favored against the Lions (2-8), Belichick, an assistant with the Lions in 1976 and 1977, knows it won’t be easy.

“Having been in Detroit, I know what a big game it is to the Lions, and how much that it’s part of that city and that franchise and the tradition that has been there. They are always ready to go on Thanksgiving.”

IT WAS A GOOD DAY for quarterback Tom Brady. He won his 25th consecutive regular-season start at Gillette Stadium, tying Brett Favre’s post-merger record. Favre won 25 games in a row at Lambeau Field from 1995-98. The last time the Patriots lost a home regular-season game that Brady started was on Nov. 12, 2006, a 17-14 decision to the New York Jets. The Patriots’ next home game? Monday, Dec. 6, against the Jets.

With his two touchdown passes, Brady also tied John Hadl for 15th on the NFL’s all-time list with 244.

THE MEMORY of last year’s fourth-quarter collapse to the Colts was on everyone’s mind. Remember? The Patriots took a 34-21 lead with 4:17 left in the game, and then Belichick gambled on a fourth-and-2 from the Patriots 28 with a six-point lead and 2:08 left. Kevin Faulk was stopped short and the Colts went on to win, 35-34.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo made sure no one forgot that.

“We knew we had to finish,” said rookie cornerback Devin McCourty, who had one of the Patriots’ three interceptions. “That’s all we kept saying on the sideline right after the third quarter As soon as we got to the sideline, Mayo kept yelling, ‘Finish, finish. We’ve been here before.’ That’s all we were trying to focus on.”

ROOKIE TIGHT end Aaron Hernandez caught his third touchdown pass of the season, but he seemed more excited about just being part of such a special game.

“Just coming into the game as a rookie, you’re so excited because I’m usually the person getting ready to eat wings and pizza and watching the game,” he said. “Just being in a game like this is a dream come true and it’s an honor. The way it turned out, a close game like this, it’s just breathtaking.”

SPECIAL TEAMS penalties gave the Colts horrible field position. Holding penalties on their first two kick returns made the Colts start at their own 11 and 13 in the first quarter.

Then a holding penalty on a punt return at the start of the third quarter pushed the Colts back to the 7.

Peyton Manning was intercepted by Brandon Meriweather on the first drive, leading to the Patriots’ first touchdown. The Colts punted after the second, leading to the Patriots’ second touchdown and a 14-0 deficit.

The Colts punted after the third-quarter penalty, and that led to Danny Woodhead’s 36-yard touchdown run that made it 28-14.

THINK PATRIOTS fans are salivating at the thought of that next home game against the Jets.

While the Patriots were warming up, the fans were treated to big-screen highlights of the Jets game with Houston on Sunday.

They cheered wildly as the Texans came back in the fourth. And then they booed loudly when the highlight of the Jets’ winning touchdown was shown.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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