New England Patriots Week 13: Top 5 Games in the Patriots-Colts Rivalry
As the New England Patriots gear up for their Week 13 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts, Bill Belichick has continued to remind his team that they have a deep, riveting history with this opponent since the turn of the new millennium.
It doesn't matter that the Colts are 0-11 heading into this week.
Here are the top five moments from the modern rivalry that has emerged between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.
Tom Brady: A Star Is Born
2001 Season, Week 3: Patriots 44, Colts 13.
At 0-2, the lowly New England Patriots welcomed the Colts to Foxboro in what would be rookie Tom Brady's first NFL start. Having lost Drew Bledsoe to injury the previous week on a devastating hit delivered by Jets' linebacker Mo Lewis, the Patriots and their no-name QB were destined for a last-place finish.
Not so fast.
Brady picked up his first NFL victory in a 44-13 win over Indianapolis. He was only 13-of-23 for 168 yards in the game, but the Patriots' defense intercepted Peyton Manning three times—two of them returned for touchdowns—in a huge division win for the New England.
This doesn't make the list because it was a turn-around Week 3 victory. It makes the list because it was the official birth of a star in the NFL.
The Fourth-and-Two Game
2009 Season, Week 10: Colts 35, Patriots 34.
Fans won't soon forget the fourth-and-two game—especially not the Patriots fans who were left with such bitter tastes in their mouths.
Up by six points on his own 29 yard line, New England coach Bill Belichick elected to go for it on a fourth-and-two call late in the game.
It was a somewhat controversial spot, but when the refs placed the ball down after the Kevin Faulk reception, it was short of the first down marker.
Peyton Manning drove his team all 29 yards to the end zone, capping it off with a Reggie Wayne touchdown to win the game for Indianapolis, 35-34.
Willie McGinest and the Goal Line Stand
2003 Season, Week 13: Patriots 38, Colts 34.
Entering the game, it was a battle of two teams that each held a 9-2 record. By the end of the game, it was the Patriots who moved to 10-2 for the first time in their franchise history.
The Patriots jumped out to a 31-10 lead behind a Bethel Johnson kick return touchdown, two rushing touchdowns from Mike Cloud, a touchdown pass from Brady to Dedric Ward and an Adam Vinatieri field goal.
The Colts battled back in epic fashion, though—three unanswered second half touchdown passes by Manning brought the game to a 31-31 tie.
Brady found wide receiver Deion Branch in the back of the end zone with 8:36 left to play, and after a Colts field goal, the Pats led 38-34 in the final moments.
Indianapolis had a first-and-goal from the two yard line, and Patriots fans will always remember that goal line stand. Led by Willie McGinest and Ted Washington, the defense stopped Edgerrin James in the backfield on fourth down to preserve another breath-taking victory.
This was another signature win that helped define the eventual three-time Super Bowl champs as the best performers in crunch time.
Peyton Can Lead Masterful Comebacks, Too
2006 AFC Championship: Colts 38, Patriots 34.
This is another one that Patriots fans would love to forget, but objectively speaking, it may have been the greatest game played in this rivalry.
New England stormed to a 21-6 halftime lead, getting a pick-six from Asante Samuel and leaving the RCA Dome quiet entering the break.
In the second half, Peyton Manning would exorcise his demons against New England and pull a little role reversal on Tom Brady.
In the past, it had been Brady marching the field and winning the game on the final drive. Completing the enormous comeback, Manning drove his Colts 80 yards for the touchdown that gave them their first lead with just one minute remaining.
After passing midfield in his own attempt to answer and leaving the Indianapolis crowd holding their breath, Brady's final pass was intercepted by Marlin Jackson.
It was an iconic interception for Colts fans—it sent their team to its first Super Bowl since 1971, and they would defeat the Chicago Bears to deliver Peyton Manning his first ring.
Dynastic Defense Gives Peyton Nightmares
2003 AFC Championship: Patriots 24, Colts 14.
The 2003 AFC Championship game was probably the pinnacle of New England's dynasty defense.
In the Colts' two playoff matchups leading into the contest—against the Chiefs and the Broncos—Peyton Manning and his offense posted a combined 681 yards and 79 points. In vintage Patriots fashion, they iced the red-hot Manning with their own wintry mix of Foxboro snow to stifle the Indianapolis offense and advance to the Super Bowl once again.
Ty Law, a Patriots hero during his glory years, was accountable for three of the four interceptions Manning tossed in the game. Rodney Harrison reeled in Manning's other miscue, intercepting a pass in the end zone to stop a scoring opportunity for the Colts.
For Pats fans during the Bill Belichick era, this game was a microcosm of what the New England Patriots were all about.
Cold, sloppy weather and a team that wins with defense. It may not be the same type of team today, but fans will always remember how awesome those teams were at the beginning of the millennium.
Nonetheless, if Peyton Manning returns to full health, football fans will be salivating at the opportunity to see this rivalry add a few more chapters to the archives.
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