The time seems to inevitably come every season at some point. In fact, the last time these two teams didn't play at all during a season (regular and/or playoffs) was 2002.
Josh Wilson asked if the Colts and Patriots would still be considered rivals, and I would say that they are. Then again, I probably think that because I have an extremely strong dislike for the team.
Anyway, for this week's Throwback Thursday I decided to take a look at the top 5 games that these two have played from 2003 onward. I'll be picking these (and ranking them) in terms of best games, in my opinion. So let's get to it!
Turnovers were really all that stopped the Colts offense on that night. The team ran for 202 yards, and Manning threw for another 259. Unfortunately, the Colts defense couldn't stop Brady, as he threw for 335 yards and three scores.
The Colts did lead by four at halftime, but the lead only made it four minutes into the second half.
In the end, the Colts had a chance to force overtime. Manning was sacked by Willie McGinest to push the field goal attempt back to a 48 yard try. Still, Mike Vanderjagt has made 42 of his last 42. Surely he would make it 43?
This is actually the first time we saw the Colts and Patriots go down to the wire with both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady leading their respective teams. I remember that, at this time, I didn't have a problem with the Patriots. They had won the Super Bowl as an underdog a couple years prior, and didn't seem so bad.
Then this game happened (and a few other subsequent playoff loses happened).
Most will remember this game because of the finish. The Colts rallied back from 31-10 in the third quarter, but couldn't quite finish.
The Colts had four chances to score from the 2-yard-line. An Edgerrin James run yielded one yard on first down. Another James run went nowhere on second down. Manning couldn't find Aaron Moorehead on third down. And on fourth down McGinest stuffed James again.
The Colts Achilles heel in this game was New England kick returner Bethel Johnson who rolled up 192 yards on five returns and had a touchdown. Colts fans may also remember this game as the one where Dallas Clark broke his leg and was lost for the remainder of the season.
The game of all games. The Colts were undefeated. The Patriots were undefeated. The hype for this game was like nothing I had ever seen (or seen since) for a Colts game.
There are a few games from the 2000s that still make me sad and disappointed, and this is one of them. I'll steal a phrase from the Colts 2007 season in review DVD: "For three quarters, the Colts had ‘em beat."
And they did. Who could forget Joseph Addai's 73 yard score to end the first half? Then the Colts jumped out to a 10 point fourth quarter lead behind a Manning TD run (you read that right).
Then Brady and Co. went to work. Two Brady touchdown passes and a Manning strip sack sealed the game for the Patriots.
This Sunday will mark 5 years and a day after this game. All most people remember from this game was the infamous 4th and 2 call from Bill Belichick.
This was the first time since the 2007 game that Manning and Brady were on the same field (remember Brady was out for the 2008 campaign with a torn ACL). When the game started, Brady picked up where he left off in 2007.
The Patriots held a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter after Randy Moss (who the Colts couldn't stop) scored his second touchdown of the game. At this point I (and probably many other Colts fans) thought the game, and the undefeated season (at that time) was over.
Manning tossed a touchdown to Pierre Garcon two minutes later, but the next score of the game put the Patriots up 13 with only four minutes to play. Of course, as Colts fans we know what the team is capable of with four minutes left. Still, I didn't think it could happen.
Manning led the Colts on another quick TD drive, but trailed by four and had to stop the red hot Patriots offense. The defense held the Patriots to fourth down with two yards to go. Most everyone figured the Patriots would punt.
They didn't. Belichick opted to go for it, to try and put the game away without giving Manning another shot. For the record, it's my opinion that Belichick made the correct call to go for it here.
New England didn't convert, though, giving Manning and the Colts prime field position.
We all know what happened next. Manning hit Reggie Wayne with 13 seconds left to put the Colts up for good. What a game.
Was there any doubt this would be my top game? The first championship game in Indianapolis with a chance to go to the Super Bowl against the Patriots. The perfect storm, or so it seemed.
I've been to many a Colts game and seen plenty of great wins (Dungy's return after the death of his son, Pagano's return, the 09 title game, etc.), and my fair share of hurtful losses (the 05 playoffs, the 07 playoffs, and this). This game will forever remain my favorite.
I don't think I had ever heard the old RCA Dome so loud before a game. And I'll always remember Adam Vinatieri giving the fans a double thumbs up when they showed him on the big screen during warm-ups.
Then the game started and the Patriots scored. Then scored again. Then Manning tossed a pick six. Suddenly it was 21-3, and that was too reminiscent of the Steelers game the year before. It looked like another hurtful loss was on its way.
The Colts began a furious comeback complete with a Dan Klecko touchdown catch, a Manning touchdown run, and the Colts first two-point-conversion of the season.
The tie game lasted less than three minutes before Brady led the Patriots down for a quick touchdown. Helped in great part by a huge kick return from Ellis Hobbs.
The Colts equalized again after Jeff Saturday became the third lineman to score in the game. This championship game had it all.
The teams traded field goals before Manning and Co. got the ball back with a little over three minutes to play. The Colts marched down the field, but not without a heart attack along the way courtesy of Wayne losing the handle on the ball inside the 20. Of course, the play potential turnover would have been negated by a roughing the passer penalty.
On third down it was Addai putting the Colts ahead with about a minute to play. To this day I'm convinced the Patriots let the Colts score on that play. And with that much time left, Brady could work his magic.
I admit I was worried. The Colts hadn't really stopped Brady all day, and two minute drills were his calling card.
Then Marlin Jackson happened.
The Colts had completed the largest comeback in Championship Game history. They were headed to the Super Bowl.
Will this Sunday Night be as competitive of a game as these five? Well, I hope not, I'm hoping for a Colts blowout win. But I would settle for a close win too.