This weekend, the Indianapolis Colts will take on the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium. It will be the first game between the two teams held at Lucas Oil since 2009 - a game that was held exactly five years ago today (on November 15, 2009) and a game that will be remembered for a long, long time in Colts history.
Our own Ben Lamers put that game at number two on his list of top Colts vs. Patriots games (and number one is a given). No one who saw that game can forget it.
It was a rather forgettable game for the Colts for much of the first three quarters, and less than a minute into the final period the Colts trailed 31-14 to New England on Sunday Night Football. Some turned off the television and went to bed. Some headed for the Lucas Oil Stadium exits. But Peyton Manning and his offense went to work. A 29-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon. A 4-yard run by Joseph Addai. And suddenly, the Colts were right back in the game with just over two minutes left, as the score was 34-28. It had been so improbable, but maybe the Colts really could do it.
Then came the now infamous decision. The one you all know of. The one this game has been nicknamed "the 4th and 2 game" for. With 2:08 left to go and facing a 4th down and 2 from his own 28 yard line, Bill Belichick - the best coach in the game - sent his offense back out onto the field. It signified just how dangerous Peyton Manning was - Belichick didn't trust his defense enough to send them out there against Peyton. 99.99 times out of 100 in that situation the easy decision would be to punt the ball. But on this night, Belichick feared Manning, and Belichick decided to roll the dice. The Patriots were trying to seal the game with a 4th down conversion. If they failed, Manning would get a 28-yard field with two minutes left to work.
Tom Brady took the snap and threw it out to the right flat to running back Kevin Faulk. He made the reception, but immediately after that Colts safety Melvin Bullitt hit him and drove him to the ground - inches short of the first down marker. The 4th and 2 had failed. And Peyton Manning didn't. After running out some clock, Manning hit Reggie Wayne for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left to tie the game, and the extra point from Matt Stover was good. Colts 35, Patriots 34. And in a series filled with classic games, this one instantly become one as well.
Five years later, that game is still widely remembered by Colts fans and one that Patriots fans try to forget. It was the second to last Manning vs. Brady matchup when Peyton was still with the good guys, and it's still the last time the Colts have faced the Patriots in Indianapolis. That will change this Sunday night in a game that could also be a great game and a great finish and a game that - hopefully - comes out the same in the win-loss column.
Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a one-week $500,000 fantasy football league this weekend. It's $10 to join and first place wins $40,000. League starts Sunday 1 PM ET and ends on Monday night. Here's the link.