The Indianapolis Colts have gone from winning games with relative ease to escaping by the skin of their teeth, so to speak. As luck would have it, Indianapolis’ opponent Sunday was the New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady. But an interesting thing happened at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Patriots would seal their fate not by anything that Brady did, but by a bold – and questionable – move by head coach Bill Belichick. The screwup enabled Indianapolis to rally from 17 down to edge New England 35-34. But more on the Belichick gamble later.
The Colts drew first blood as Peyton Manning tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Addai, giving Indianapolis a 7-0 lead; the Patriots would strike back as Laurence Maroney would score on a 1-yard TD run, tying things up at 7-all. The second quarter would find New England racking up points in short order; after a 31-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, New England would score twice in a 4-minute span, the first being a 63-yard TD pass from Brady to Randy Moss at the 11:18 mark with the second being a 9-yard Brady to Julius Edelman TD pass, which gave the Patriots a comfortable 24-7 lead with 7:19 left in the half. But Indianapolis reduced New England’s lead to ten as Manning rifled a 20-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne at the 4:17 mark, making it 24-14 which would be the halftime score.
As opposed to the previous periods, the third quarter was a battle of attrition and was scoreless, as a result. The fourth quarter found New England striking early as Brady threw a 5-yard TD pass to Moss, increasing their lead to 31-14. Sounds like lights out? Not so fast – it gets better, especially if you’re a Colts fan. With 12:14 remaining in the game, Manning tossed a 29-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon which narrowed the Patriots’ lead to 31-21; a 36-yard FG by Gostkowski pushed the Patriots’ advantage to 34-21.
Indianapolis would come storming back, with credit due to Manning and a little help from Belichick. Addai would score from a yard out, putting the Colts to within 34-28 with 2:23; then came the erroneous judgement by Belichick. New England had the ball but Belichick called two timeouts during the series, with the second TO setting up their foruth down play. Typically on a fourth and 2 agaisnt Indianapolis, you’d punt the ball and let Manning try and beat you. But Belichick opted to go for it on fourth down. The gamble failed, giving the Colts the ball at the New England 29-yard line with 1:57 left in the game – an eternity when Manning is in charge. Manning would run three plays before connecting with Wayne for the winning score, a 1-yard TD pass, with 13 ticks left on the game clock, icing the game for the Colts.
Manning had his usual good game, going 28-of-44 for 327 yards with 4 TD’s and 2 INT’s while Brady went 29-of-42 for 375 yards with 3 TD’s and an INT. Addai led the Colts’ rushers with 41 yards and a TD while catching 2 passes for 27 yards and a score; Chad Simpson added 36 yards on only 4 carries. Kevin Faulk led New England with 79 yards on 17 carries while Laurence Maroney added 31 yards on 13 carries.
Wayne led all Colts receivers with 10 receptions for 126 yards and 2 scores while Dallas Clark caught 4 passes for 65 yards; Garcon caught 3 balls for 50 yards and a TD while Austin Collie grabbed 6 for 45 yards. Moss led New England with 9 receptions for 179 yards and 2 TD’s while Wes Welker caught 9 passes for 94 yards; Ben Watson caught one pass for 36 yards. Indianapolis (9-0) plays again on Sunday when they face the Baltimore Ravens while New England (6-3) returns home to host the New York Jets – also on Sunday.