Colts vs. Patriots: Top 5 Games in the Rivalry's History

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIINovember 30, 2011

Colts vs. Patriots: Top 5 Games in the Rivalry's History

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    The Indianapolis Colts travel to Gillette Stadium on Sunday to take on the New England Patriots. This has been one of the best rivalries in the history in the NFL.

    The Colts and Patriots have met 74 times in their history, with the Patriots leading the matchup in wins 45-29.

    This rivalry didn't heat up, though, until 2001, when conference realignment took place. Prior to 2001, the Colts and Patriots were both part of the AFC East, but in 2001 the Colts moved to the new AFC South division.

    Since 2001, the two teams have a combined four Super Bowl Championships, and six AFC Championships. They have met every year except once, in 2002, in this rivalry. The Patriots lead this matchup since 2001, with seven wins to five.

    The rivalry really heated up the past decade due to the popularity of the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady rivalry. Many consider these to be the best two quarterbacks of all time, and if you're a fan of one, you hate the other.

    This year the game was originally scheduled for Sunday Night Football, but due to the Colts struggles without Manning, the game was flexed out.

    Even without Manning this game still gets me excited. Although it probably won't happen this year, these games have been the best games every year.

    The Colts seem to have a habit of falling behind early to the Patriots and make a furious comeback in the fourth quarter to pull out the win.

    Picking five games was hard, but these are the top five games in the Colts-Patriots rivalry.

5. Last of the Unbeatens: Patriots at Colts, November 4th, 2007, RCA Dome

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    The 8-0 New England Patriots traveled and played the 7-0 Colts in the first matchup between the two teams after the Colts' miracle comeback against the Patriots the year before in the AFC Championship game on the very same RCA Dome turf.

    The matchup was the latest point in the season two undefeated teams matched up.

    The Patriots offense averaged over 34 points per game entering this game, but the Colts defense actually showed up ready to play.

    The Colts led 20-10 in the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady hit Randy Moss for 58 yards to lead the Patriots to the 3-yard line on one drive. Brady hit Wes Welker for a three-yard strike to pull the Pats within three.

    The Patriots stopped the Colts on their next drive and got the ball back.

    Brady hit Kevin Faulk for another fourth quarter touchdown pass that gave the Patriots a 24-20 lead in scoring 14 straight points.

    Manning tried to lead the Colts on one last drive to win the game, but he was intercepted by Indianapolis native Roosevelt Colvin near midfield, which sealed the Patriots 24-20 win.

4. Momentum Swings Back to New England: Colts at Patriots, November 21st, 2010

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    The Colts have dominated this rivalry since 2005. They won five of the last six matchups against the Patriots entering Gillette Stadium last year.

    The Colts were banged up and were 6-3 entering Foxboro for the first time since 2006. The Patriots were having a good season, owning the best record at 7-2 in the NFL at this time in facing the Colts.

    The game was much like the previous few. Manning and the Colts fell behind early and found themselves behind by 17 points in the fourth quarter.

    Manning led the Colts to 14 straight points to pull the Colts within three late in the fourth. The Colts defense made a huge stop to get Manning the ball back, and he led them down to the Patriots' 24-yard line with under a minute left.

    Already in field goal range, you would have thought the Colts would have kept it conservative to tie the game at least and head to overtime with all the momentum.

    Manning had other thoughts and went for the win, but Patriots corner James Sanders had other thoughts of his own, picking off Manning with 32 seconds left in the game to seal the win. That was Manning's third interception of the game.

3. Colts Swing Rivalry Their Way: Colts at Patriots, November 7th, 2005

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    The Colts entered Foxboro for a Monday Night Football matchup undefeated at 8-0. The Patriots were the two-time defending Super Bowl Champions, but struggled out of the gate and were 4-3.

    Everyone still favored the Patriots, thinking they would use this game to turn their season around. After all, Peyton Manning was winless in Foxboro at 0-7 to date.

    The Colts dominated this game, winning 40-21 on the national stage.

    The game was so out of hand Tom Brady was benched in the fourth quarter for back up Doug Flutie.

    The game is the most lopsided outcome to this day since 2001.

    This was also the moment many experts said the Colts turned the corner with winning the next three match-ups and five of the next six.

2. 4th & 2...Patriots at Colts: November 15th, 2009, Lucas Oil Stadium

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    The Colts entered this game undefeated, while the Patriots were 6-2 on the Sunday Night Football telecast.

    The game was also the first start in Lucas Oil Stadium for Tom Brady.

    This game is widely considered the greatest game to ever be played in the regular season in the NFL. I can attest to that in that I was in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium witnessing this game in person.

    The Colts found themselves down 34-21 with only 4:12 left in the game. With the way they were playing, many thought this game was over, and I heard of many people who turned this game off thinking it was over.

    In the words of college football analyst Lee Corso, "not so fast my friends."

    The Colts scored on a Joseph Addai touchdown with 2:53 left to cut the Patriots lead to 34-28.

    The Patriots got the ball back and the Colts stopped them on three straight plays to force a 4th-and-2 from the Patriots own 28.

    Due to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick being ignorant and just plain dumb, he decided to go for it instead of punt the ball and force Manning to come down the field again.

    Brady completed the pass to running back Kevin Faulk, but he was unable to secure the pass over the first down marker, and Colts safety Melvin Bullitt made a heck of a hit and stopped the Patriots short.

    The crowd in the "Luke" was going crazy.

    It took three plays for Manning to hit wide receiver Reggie Wayne for a one-yard touchdown pass to give the Colts a 34-34 tie. Matt Stover—filling in for injured kicker Adam Vinatieri—kicked the extra point to give the Colts a 35-34 lead with 13 seconds left.

    To this day, that is the craziest I have ever seen Lucas Oil Stadium. People were jumping up and down, hugging and high-fiving each other in the aisles. That carried over to a huge party in the streets of downtown Indianapolis following the game, as people couldn't believe what they just witnessed.

1. The Comeback: Patriots at Colts, January 21st, 2007, AFC Championship Game

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    January 21st, 2007, will forever go down in infamy for not just the Indianapolis Colts, but for any fan of the NFL.

    That date is a date any Colts fan will remember like a birthday, anniversary, or life-changing moment. Many Colts fans remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on this day.

    This was the first ever home AFC Championship Game the Colts had ever hosted. The hype around the city the week leading up to this game was bigger than any moment the city has ever seen.

    This was the big bad evil Patriots who have knocked the Colts out of the playoffs every year it seemed. The weather and fact of playing in New England was always the excuse for the Colts in losing in the playoffs to New England. This year, there were no excuses anymore. If they were to ever make a trip to the Super Bowl, this was it.

    The raucous crowd was what I thought was the loudest I have ever heard a crowd roar in the first quarter of  this game, until the Patriots ruined it.

    New England jumped out to a 21-3 lead, with Patriots corner Asante Samuel intercepting a Peyton Manning pass and returning it 39 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter.

    That moment you could have heard a pin drop in the once raucous dome.

    Peyton Manning led the Colts 80 yards on 15 plays at the end of the half to set up an Adam Vinatieri 26-yard field goal to put the Colts down 21-6 heading into the half.

    The Colts scored on the first possession of the second half to cut the Pats lead to 21-13.

    After forcing a Patriots punt on their next possession, the Colts drove down the field, and Manning hit defensive lineman Dan Klecko on a one-yard touchdown pass. Following that, Manning hit Marvin Harrison for a two-point conversion and tied the game at 21.

    The Patriots scored next to take a 28-21 lead.

    The Colts on their next possession drove down the field, but running back Dominic Rhodes fumbled the ball in the endzone. Miraculously, Colts center Jeff Saturday recovered the ball for a touchdown, to tie the game at 28.

    At this point, I knew this game was going to be something special in that three linemen had already scored in this game.

    The teams then traded field goals until Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit a 43-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 34-31 lead with only 3:49 left.

    The Colts and Patriots then traded punts, with the Colts getting the ball back with just over two minutes left.

    The Colts were led on a magical drive, with Joseph Addai scoring a three-yard touchdown run, giving the Colts a 38-34 lead with only a minute left in this classic game.

    That was the Colts' first lead in the game, and after I thought the crowd couldn't get any louder earlier in the game—it did.

    The intensity and anticipation of stopping the evil Patriots to earn a trip to Miami was on the line, and you literally couldn't hear the person next to you, it was so loud. Your ears would ring, and you could feel the noise through your body.

    Marlin Jackson intercepted Tom Brady with 17 seconds left, and all mayhem broke loose.

    This was the greatest comeback in NFL Conference Championship game history, and the fourth largest comeback in NFL postseason history.

    This was by far the greatest moment I have ever witnessed in person. Grown adults were crying. People were screaming with joy. Others were just so shocked at what they had just witnessed in that they were hugging and embracing each other's joy and excitement with complete strangers, while Will Smith's hit song "Welcome to Miami" blared through the stadiums sound system welcoming the Colts to Miami for the Super Bowl.

    This is by far the greatest game in not just Colts-Patriots history, but in NFL history.