Peyton Manning and the Colts were two years removed from the last time Tom Brady and the Patriots had ended their season, but this time the game was in Indianapolis.
In many ways this game was the last championship gasp for the depleted Patriots dynasty defense, and really the Patriots as a whole were a shell of the team that had won the Super Bowl just two seasons prior, yet that didn't stop the patchwork Pats from fighting like champions right down to the end.
Yet again, the Patriots sprinted out to a 21-3 lead but there was little doubt given this history of these two teams that it would still go down to the end.
After trailing 21-6 at halftime, Manning led the Colts to touchdown drives on their first two possessions of the second half, including a two-point conversion that tied the game at 21.
But the Patriots would not go away quietly.
Ellis Hobbs returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to set up a Jabar Gaffney touchdown to put the Pats back up 28-21 as the fourth quarter started.
The Colts would answer that touchdown with one of their own on their next possession. The teams then traded field goals, with the Patriots adding another field goal to go ahead 34-31 with just 3:49 left.
The teams then traded punts as Manning took the field down three points with 2:17 left at his own 20-yard line with a trip to the Super Bowl hanging in the balance.
The Colts got down to the Pats' 11-yard line in just five plays, as the Patriots reached down deep and stuffed them on two straight runs.
Third-and-2 at the New England 3-yard line. So many times in the rivalry the Patriots came through in these big moments, usually on the broad shoulders of Willie McGinest, but this time things were different.
Joseph Addai took the handoff up the middle and walked into the end zone, putting the Colts ahead after the extra point, 38-34.
Tom Brady still had :54 seconds left, and he went down swinging like he always will, completing passes of 19 and 15 yards to get to the Colts 45 with :24 seconds left.
But it just wasn't meant to be for the Patriots this time. Brady's next pass was intercepted by Marlin Jackson. Game over. The Colts were going to the Super Bowl.
There were many great games in the Patriots-Colts rivalry from the last decade, but given the stakes, the history, the comeback and the back-and-forth nature late in the game, none can top the 2006 AFC Championship.