This article was first featured on NewEnglandSportsOnline.com.
The NFL is a tale of two seasons.
Last year, there were two clear “great” teams, Indianapolis and New Orleans. This year, though, the NFL has completely evened out.
There are 3-7 teams are still breathing, trying to find away to slip into the playoffs. But the 8-2 teams aren’t without problems: The Jets won thanks to a miraculous fourth quarter comeback against a supposedly far inferior Houston Texans team.
Much like the NFL, the Patriots have turned themselves around. Last year, the team was unable to hold second half leads. They couldn’t make stops when they needed to. It seems like every time the Patriots needed a big play, their opponents took it.
This year, it’s been different. Against Baltimore, the Patriots defense stepped up in the fourth quarter. Against Pittsburgh, the Patriots offense came to play for a full 60 minutes.
In Miami, it was a combined demolition, special teams, defense and offense.
Now, there is the Indy game. The offense had two bad drives in the quarter, and the defense let Peyton Manning pick them apart.
Offensively, Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis had some great runs, including Woody’s 25+ yard TD scamper. Tom Brady had his way with the Colts defense until late in the game.
Best team in AFC?
But, when the team needed a big play, the big play was made. James Sanders intercepted an off-target Peyton Manning pass. Manning was under pressure because Jermaine Cunningham (rookie) was applying it.
Last year, the Patriots lost this game, 35-34. This year, they won it, 31-28.
Last season’s Indy game compared to this season’s Indy game represents the Patriots turnaround. In the close game, the Patriots made the big play when the Colts needed it most.
Unsatisfied by this win, because the Colts were still able to come back and make it a nail biter? Unsatisfied by this win because Brady and the offense sputtered in the fourth?
Final score: 31-28, Patriots win against the Indianapolis Colts. End of Story.
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