It's playoff time, which means that this will be a playoff Throwback Thursday. I really struggled with what to pick for this one.
I could have picked the last time the Colts played on January 11, but I would rather not revisit last year's beat down by the Patriots. I could have picked the last time the Colts went on the road to play the number two seed in the playoffs. That one led me back to the same place.
Instead, I'll go back a little further (although still recent history) to the second to last time the Colts went on the road to play the number two seed.
This takes us back to a time when the Colts had spectacular QB play, great WRs, playmaking TEs, and a suspect defense.
Ok, so that doesn't narrow it down at all.
We're taking it back to the 2006 season, and the divisional playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens. It was a game where Adam Vinatieri and the Colts defense were responsible for the victory.
Obviously, we all know the narrative from the 2006 season. Peyton Manning couldn't win the important games, and the run defense couldn't stop any competent running back.
In the Wild Card round, the Colts proved some doubters wrong. In the regular season, Larry Johnson had rushed for over 1,700 yards. Coming into the game, the Colts were giving up an average of 173 rushing yards per game.
In the opening round win, Johnson only ran for 32 yards against the Colts.
Next up there the 13-3 Ravens. Veteran Steve McNair was the quarterback and they had Jamal Lewis, who had also rushed for over 1,000 yards on the season.
This game, though, was on the road, where the Colts were only 4-4 on the season, and had lost their final four road contests. On the road, the defense was giving up an average of 199.7 yards on the ground.
Many forget how good the 2006 Ravens defense actually was. They were the top ranked defense in the league, giving up 264 yards per game, 188 pass yards per game, 75 rush yards per game, and 12.6 points per game. Run the ball and play good defense is the recipe for many a post season success, and it looked like the Ravens would be able to do so against the Colts.
If you had told me that Manning wouldn't throw a touchdown in a playoff game, and the Colts would win, I would have said you were crazy. Yet, that's exactly what happened.
The Colts jumped out to a 6-0 lead behind two Vinatieri field goals, and never relinquished the lead. On the first play of the second quarter Matt Stover kicked a field goal to pull the Ravens within 3, but that was as close as they got.
Vinatieri's next two field goals were from 51 (which hit the cross bar and bounced in) and 48 yards to extend the Colts lead to 12-3. Stover would bring Baltimore back to within 6, but Vinatieri put the game away with a 35 yarder with 26 seconds left.
If you looked at the Colts offensive statistics, you would be sure they lost. Manning finished 15 of 30 with 170 yards and two picks. Dominic Rhodes led the way rushing with 56 yards.
While the offense was shut down, the defense came up huge. The unit's four takeaways were key in the victory. They also held Lewis to a mere 53 yards on the ground.
It was a huge victory for the Colts, as they moved on to the AFC Championship game for the second time in four years. Through two games the defense had given up a total of 14 points and 127 total rushing yards.
At this point I, like I'm sure many of you, was getting ready (and getting worried) to face LaDainian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers, on the road, in the AFC Championship game.
As we know, that didn't end up happening. The Patriots came away with a road win to send the Championship Game to Indianapolis for the first time ever.
This year the Colts again head on the road to face the AFC's second seed to face Manning and the Broncos.