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Peyton Manning's Greatest Games - #9

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Game #9 takes us back to November 7, 2005, in a Monday Night showdown between the Colts and the two-time defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.  Manning was 0-7 all time in Foxboro, and had lost the previous two seasons in the playoffs in not-so-spectacular fashion.  People were questioning whether Manning would ever win at New England.  Boston Globe writer Dan  Shaughnessy put it so eloquently:

It is now clear: The Colts cannot beat the Patriots. Manning cannot beat Tom Brady. Tony Dungy cannot beat Belichick. The playoff win gave the Patriots six straight over Indy. Brady is 6-0 lifetime against the Colts and the vaunted Manning never has won a game in Norfolk County. The reigning (two-time) league MVP completed 27 of 42 passes for 238 yards, but couldn't get his team in the end zone. His final, futile heave of the day was intercepted by Rodney Harrison with four seconds left. It was a fine exclamation for a perfect win by New England's almost-perfect team.

Manning not only marched the 7-0 Colts into Foxboro and won the game, but he had one of the best games of his career in doing so, putting a sock in all those idiot writers' mouths.

I can remember being very nervous before this game.  It was hard to get the notion through my head that the Colts could beat the Patriots in Foxboro.  I remember pacing back and forth throughout the entire game, even when up by 3 TDs in the fourth quarter.  I wanted the time to read 0:00 before celebrating.  And I celebrated, thanks to #18.

Manning and the Colts took the opening kickoff, marched right down the field, thanks to a 48 yard pass to Harrison, and threw a 1 yard TD pass to Harrison for the early lead.  The Patriots countered with a TD drive of there own, eating up 6:38 on the clock.  This, however, was the only drive they would have over 4:00 in the game.  The Colts took the ball, and held it for a 17 play, 9 minute drive, capped off by an Edgerrin TD run.  The Colts were 3-4 on 3rd Down, and they converted a 4th and 1 at the NE 46, a very unconventional move by Coach Dungy.  I have a feeling Manning had something to do with that.

Manning made his only mistake trying to force a pass into Dallas Clark, and it was intercepted by Mike Vrabel midway through the second quarter.  The defense (read: Bob Sanders) helped Manning and the offense out by forcing a fumble with 2:07 to go in the half.  Manning marched the Colts right down the field, going 5-7 for 68 yards, and a 10 yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne with 14 seconds left in the half to give the Colts a 21-7 lead at halftime.  Manning's halftime stats:

Comp Att Yds Y/A TD INT Rating 3rd Conv Time of Poss
16 21 181 8.6 2 1 113.4 7/9 17:38

The key to the first half was keeping the Patriots offense off of the field, and Manning and the offense did a fantastic job of doing that.  The Colts controlled the game, and were moving the ball at will.

The second half was more of the same, as the Colts scored on their first 4 possessions, including a 30 yard TD pass to Harrison, who made Asante Samuel look really bad.  The Colts ended up with a 300 yard passer, a 100 yard rusher, and 2 100 yard receivers, and 453 total yards of offense.  Manning's final stats:

Comp Att Yds Y/A TD INT Rating 3rd Conv Time of Poss
28 37 321 8.7 3 1 117.1 12/17 36:41

Manning had himself a great game against his nemesis, and is #9 in his all-time greatest games.

Here are the video highlights from the game.  It's fun watching Brady get so frustrated.

Here is the NFL.com GameBook for the game.

In Game #8, Manning goes for "perfection"...