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Indianapolis Colts VS New England Patriots at RCA Dome  January 21, 2007 2006 NFL Playoffs AFC Conference Championship

 

          

AFC
Conference Championships


The Lamar Hunt Trophy, center, is displayed during an Indianapolis Colts news conference in Indianapolis, Friday, Jan. 19, 2007. The winner of the Colts and New England Patriots football game Sunday will be presented with the trophy.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

COLTS VS PATRIOTS
 January 21, 2007

Final

1

2

3

4

T

Indianapolis

3

3

15

17

38

New England

7

14

7

6

34

Date: 1/21/2007

Start Time: 6:44 PM EST

Game Day Weather

Played Indoor on Turf: FieldTurf
Outdoor Weather: 34 degrees, fog and light snow showers

Officials

Referee: Bill Carollo (63)
Line Judge: Byron Boston (18)
Field Judge: Rob Vernatchi (75
Umpire: Tony Michalek (115)
Side Judge: Larry Rose (128)
Replay Official: Bob Boylston and Dean Blandino
Head Linesman: Gary Slaughter (30)
Back Judge: Scott Helverson (93)

 

Like Moses when he parted the Red Sea and led the Israelites in safety while the hosts of Pharaoh perished in its waves.

The Patriots wall of defense was parted by the Colts as Addai led the Colts to safety into the Super Bowl while The Patriots perished in the Colts glory!

If you missed this Sunday night AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, you missed one for the ages. In fact, the entire playoffs this year have been electrifying. But this game in particular had all the earmarkings of a potential classic going in, and it didn't disappoint.
Early on, though, that didn't appear to be the case. 

Down 21-3 to New England late in the second quarter, the Indianapolis Colts faced odds bordering on the impossible. Their playoff history isn't dotted with second-half comebacks and the Patriots, winners of three Super Bowls in the past five years, simply don't blow leads.

Especially 18-point leads.

With Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne bottled up by the New England secondary, Peyton Manning and the Colts needed to get creative at times to get past the Patriots with a 38-34 victory in the AFC championship game Sunday night.

Certainly, it was not all by design, but it sure was effective. 

Indianapolis had a defensive tackle (Klecko) score one touchdown, a center (Saturday) score another and even Manning scored on a rare quarterback sneak.

 Indianapolis Colts put 32 points on the board in the second half executing the biggest comeback in the history of NFL conference championship play
and beat the New England Patriots 38-34 to earn their ticket to Miami for Super Bowl XLI.

THE PATRIOT FANS CAN GO CRY OVER THEIR CLAM CHOWDER AND TELL ANYONE THAT WILL LISTEN HOW GREAT A TEAM THEY HAVE.
THE SAME TEAM THAT PULLED THE BIGGEST CHOKE IN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY.

Joseph Addai capped Manning's late drive with the winning score, a 3-yard run with one minute left to help the Colts complete the rally and send them to Indianapolis' first Super Bowl.
Colts have made 2 Super Bowl appearances
Super Bowl III (1968)
and
Super Bowl V (1970)
becoming Super Bowl Champions: V (1970)
However, that was when they resided in Baltimore
before Bob Irsay moved the team to Indianapolis.

Essentially, it wasn't a sealed victory, thus far! Patriots did have 1 minute to produce a comeback touchdown, which is not an underestimated performance of The Patriots. After Indy's last touchdown, Manning was on the sideline, his head down - he couldn't bear to watch.

The Indianapolis Colts quarterback said he sought some divine intervention before the New England Patriots' final drive.


(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

"I said a little prayer on that last drive," Manning said after game. "I don't know if you're supposed to pray for stuff like that, but I said a little prayer."


 . . . and then

The Patriots had two timeouts to work with. The ball was at the Colts 45. New England called timeout with 24 seconds remaining.

Brady then looked to Watson. Jackson broke on the ball. Marlin Jackson read it all the way and intercepted a Tom Brady pass with 16 seconds to play to clinch the Indianapolis Colts' 38-34 victory in the AFC Championship Game.

A roaring RCA Dome sellout crowd of 57,433 erupted. The stands shook. So, too, did an ecstatic Jackson.

Marlin Jackson just lay down and started wiggling.

Game over, and the RCA Dome crowd - on edge and raucous throughout - celebrated, shaking the stands and sending the Colts players, coaches and personnel into euphoria.

When he had flopped around enough in the euphoria, the Indianapolis Colts' lanky cornerback picked himself up from the FieldTurf and did a jig. He danced down the middle of the field. Jackson was in no hurry to hop off.

"I was walking it out," he said of celebrating the most important interception of his two-year career, a turnover in the final seconds to clinch the Colts' 38-34 victory over New England in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

"I was excited. I couldn't help it. I knew we were on our way to the Super Bowl."

One kneel down later and Manning ripped off his helmet to celebrate.

Dungy and the Colts will face the Chicago Bears and his good friend Lovie Smith in Miami in two weeks. Together they are the first black (African American) coaches to make the Super Bowl in its 41 years.

In the NFC title game played earlier on Sunday in Chicago, the Bears reached their first Super Bowl in 21 years by beating the New Orleans Saints 39-14.

"I was thinking, 'That is the game - we're on our way to Miami,''' Jackson said. "It was a combination where they run trips to the right and they curl up. I just sat in between them and read the quarterback. I knew we had it. We just all feel excited right now. We're going to Miami."

Said Colts safety Bob Sanders, "Time stopped for me. Everything just paused and stopped. I kind of froze for a second, because I didn't think it was over, but it was over.

"Time just stopped for me. I kind of looked up to the sky and thanked God."

For once, Tom Brady didn't have the answer.

In our mind's eye, covering 80 yards in 54 seconds with two timeouts is right in Brady's wheelhouse. After all, hasn't he always come through?

Call Sunday's heart-stopping, gut-wrenching 38-34 New England loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game a lesson in reality.

The reality is, it's different when you need a touchdown on the last drive, not a field goal.

The reality is, when your defense stops making plays and asks you to score 40 points to win, the trick isn't as easy as it looks.

The reality is, that when you've been as inconsistent as Brady has been through the course of the season, summoning perfection in the final moments isn't an automatic.

And so Brady showed he was human, throwing an interception into the waiting arms of defensive back Marlin Jackson on the Colts 35-yard line with 20 seconds left.

It was a poor decision by the three-time Super Bowl winner, a desperation throw that came on something less than a desperation play. It was first down and the Patriots still had a timeout to burn. They never got a chance to take a shot at the end zone.

What was Brady thinking when he headed out to the field for that final drive?

The same thing millions of fans in New England were thinking.

"We've got to score. We need a touchdown," said Brady. "Time was an issue. It wasn't like there was two-and-a-half minutes left. You've got a minute. It's tough."

Things started out well enough, with Brady hitting Benjamin Watson for 19 yards on second down, and Heath Evans for a 15-yard gain on the next snap. After a timeout, Brady came back out with the offense poised for magic.

But on the next snap disaster struck.

"I was trying to go to Ben and he undercut it," said Brady. "I tried to force it in there. In hindsight, you always wish that you threw it away. I was just trying to get rid of it quick."

And when the confetti started streaming down from the top of the RCA Dome a minute later, the Pats walked off stunned. They had become so accustomed to pulling these games out that any other result seemed illogical.

But it actually made a great deal of sense. Check the history. For the most part, the Pats won their three world championships with Brady and the offense playing complementary roles to the defense. Prior to Sunday, the most postseason points the Pats had given up under Bill Belichick was 29 to Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The most they had ever had to score were the 32 they put up on the Panthers.

The Patriots aren't a shootout kind of team. Never have been. Probably never will be under Belichick.

Tedy Bruschi was asked what was going through his mind when he saw Brady walk out onto the field for the final drive.

"I was confident," Bruschi said. "But their defense made the play to win the game and ours didn't."

By Michael Felger
The Boston Herald

Manning ended 27-of-47 for 349 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Indianapolis, which had its playoff runs cut short by Brady and New England both in 2003 and '04. Manning also added a rushing touchdown, while Dallas Clark hauled in six catches for 137 yards.

While Brady went 21-of-34 for 232 yards with a touchdown and a pick for the Patriots.

 

ON WITH THE SHOW

FIRST QUARTER

Patriots Ball

New England wins the toss and elects to receive while The Colts elects to defend the East goal.

Adam Vinatieri kicks it off for 64 yards to Patriots 6 yard line as Ellis Hobbs brings it back for 18 yards to their 24 before he is met with Colts Marlin Jackson and Rocky Boiman.

Patriots succeeded in moving the chains once on their first drive before they were forced to punt.

Todd Sauerbrun punts 49 yards to Colts 13 as Terrance Wilkins ran it back for 16 yards before he was pushed out of bounds at Colts 29 yard line.

COLTS BALL

Peyton started the series off handing the ball off to Joseph Addai as he ran to the left side for a gain of 6 before he was knocked out of bounds by Ellis Hobbs. Next play, this time Addai tried to run to the right to only gain a yard from it.

Third and ONLY 3 yards to go, Peyton fires a long haul to Joseph Addai down the sideline, yet overthrew the Runningback to bring out Hunter Smith as he punts 52 yards to Patriots before a penalty was called on Colts, Tyjuan Hagler for Illegal Motion, 5 yards, enforced at Colts 36 - No Play.

Hunter punts it away again for 44 yards to Patriots 25 as Kevin Faulk signals for a fair catch.

Patriots Ball

Brady hits WR, Reche Caldwell for a gain of 18 yards before he was knocked out of bounds Robert Mathis.

First and ten and Maroney is nailed for loss of 2 yards by Gary Brackett who was injured on the play. His return is Probable.

Faulk ran the ball on Patriots next 2 plays with gains of 3 and 8 yards.

New England faced a fourth and 1 and a deafening crowd from the Colts 48 during their second possession of the game. The Colts defense lined up tight, defending a Brady sneak but the call was to Dillon who found all kinds of room off right tackle and he rumbled 35 yards to the Colts 13. A Maroney run for 9 brought up second and 1 from the 4 where Brady kept for 1 and a first down.

On the next play, when Patriots' rookie running back Laurence Maroney and quarterback Tom Brady botched the exchange on a handoff near the Colts' end zone and the ball shot forward. At least four Colts players dove for the ball but somehow none of them came up with the recovery. Suddenly the ball rolled into the end zone where Logan Mankins picked it up for the unlikely touchdown for a 7-0 Pats' lead.

Patriots kicker, Gostkowski kicks 70 yards from to Colts end zone for a Touchback.

COLTS BALL

Peyton and The Colts start off at their 20 yard line as Peyton hits Marvin Harrison for 8 yards before he ran out of bounds. Addai got 8 yards himself as he ran though the line on the next play. First and ten. Peyton throws a short pass to Marvin, however Asante Samuel broke that play up. Second and Ten and Peyton finds Reggie Wayne to his left for a gain of 13 yards. Addai ran for 3 on the next play and then Peyton tried to go deep on the next play to Harrison but fell short.  Third and Seven and Peyton finds Dallas Clark for a gain of 12 yards and a First Down. Peyton hands off to Addai as he gained 4 yards and then found Utecht over the middle for a gain of 5 and ten Addai picked up the easy 1 yarder for another First Down.

Colts are on The Patriots 26 yard line knocking on the door to the end zone. The crowd is hyped. However, The Colts struggled as Ryan Diem was called for Offensive Holding, bringing the ball back 10 yards.

First and twenty and Peyton tries to hook up in the End Zone to Wayne, however Hobbs batted the ball away.

Addai got 11 yards on the next play but wasn't enough for a First Down as the Colts had to settle for 3 on a Vinatieri 42-yarder after Manning led the 14-play drive that started at his own 20.

Colts - 3 Patriots 7

Vinatieri kicks 71 yards to Patriots -1 as Hobbs runs it back for 29 yards to their 28 before he is met with the ravoc of Darryl Reid and Tyjuan Hagler.

Patriots Ball

41 seconds left in the First Quarter as Dillon runs the ball up the middle for a Patriots 2 yarder and finishing the quarter with Brady hitting Watson for 7 yards as Bob Sanders pushes him out of bounds.

SECOND QUARTER

Patriots Ball
continued . . .

The second quarter got underway with the Patriots third and 1 at their own 37. Brady kept for the first down and then connected with Heath Evans on a swing pass for 10 yards to the 49. Maroney carried twice for 5 and 8 yards and things were looking good for the Patriots on this drive. But an incomplete and a Dillon run for a loss of 1 brought up third and 11. Faulk caught a screen but only for 5 yards and now Brady faced a fourth and 6 from the Colts 34.

Brady lined up and then called timeout. When play resumed,  New England went for it and Brady found Troy Brown over the middle for the first down and more. Brown's yards after the catch brought him to the 7 where Dillon almost looked like he could have walked in for the score;
Colts -3  Patriots - 14

Gostkowski kicks it 69 yards to the Colts 1 as Wilkins runs it back for 25 yards before he fumbles the ball, luckily though, it was recovered by Colts' Tyjuan Hagler at The Colts 28 yard line.


Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Terrence Wilkins (10) tries to break the tackle of New England Patriots cornerback Antwain Spann (31) in the second quarter of the AFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

COLTS BALL

Dominic Rhodes was in for Joseph Addai as he ran the first play for a gain of 3 yards, however, that's as far as the Colts drive went.

That's when the playoff jitters came to haunt Manning once again. On his second play after getting the ball back, he looked to Harrison in the right flat but Samuel read it all the way. In a flash he was in front of Harrison with the ball in his hands and nothing but green between him and six points.

Patriots Ball

The interception return put New England up 21-3 with 9:25 left in the first half.

COLTS BALL

The New England defense showed no mercy, forcing Manning out of the pocket and into a slide on first down for a loss of 1 after the Colts got the ball back. On second down, Colvin shot through the middle for a sack of 11. After a delay penalty on Indy brought up third and 24 from the 3, which was bullshit as Peyton signaled for a timeout but never received it.
Manning looked deep down the sideline to Harrison but once again, Samuel was there for the break-up.

Colts are forced to punt as Hunter Smith kicks it for 53 yards to Patriots 44, as Troy Brown returns it to the Colts 48 for 8 yards.

Patriots Ball

On the Patriots first play of this series, Maroney was met by Bob Sanders for a loss of 3 yards. Brady then started passing the ball around to Brown for 5 yards, Watson for a whopping 14 then to Caldwell for another 5.

Again they tried to run Maroney to only loose another yard as he was hit by Gary Brackett and Josh Thomas.

A penalty on Brown stalled the next Patriots drive. On third and 6, Brady connected with Ben Watson for the first down but Brown was flagged for offensive pass interference when he ran into the Colts defender off the line. The call set New England back 10 yards and they never recovered, as Evans did gain 4 yards for The Patriots, on the next play Watson was flagged for illegal Motion, 5 yards, enforced at Colts 38 - No Play.

Third and Twentyone and Brock comes in for the kill and sacks Brady for a loss of 6 yards having to punt the ball back to Indy with just over three minutes remaining in the half.

Sauerbrun punts 37 yards to Colts 12 as Wilkins signals for a fair catch at Patriots 31.

Patriots', Antwain Spann was injured during the play. His return is Probable.

COLTS BALL

With a little over 3 minutes left in the half, Manning went into his hurry-up and starting from his 12, heated up with passes to Wayne, Harrison and Aaron Moorehead, moving swiftly down the field as the Patriots gave prevent cushion. A 12-yarder to Dallas Clark took things down to the Patriots 6 yard line with 24 seconds left. On first and goal, Dominic Rhodes was stuffed for a loss of 2. Next, Clark had a sure touchdown bang off his chest and incomplete. With 15 seconds left, Manning was running out of time. Wayne was in single coverage with Hobbs and Manning tried to lead him but the ball fell over the reach of the Colts wide receiver as a flag flew. The call was pass interference on Hobbs but after a referee conference, the flag was picked up since it was clear to at least one of the refs that Wayne tripped with no contact coming from Hobbs. The incomplete brought up fourth down and another Vinatieri field goal to close out the first half proceedings with the
Patriots holding a mammoth  21-6 lead.

Vinatieri kicks off for 45 yards to Patriots 25 as Chad Jackson muffs the catch, but was lucky to have it recovered by Troy Brown at their 20.

 With 7 seconds on the clock, Brady takes a knee to end the First Half.

Colts - 6  Patriots - 21


Colts fans look worried as their team falls behind the New England Patriots in the first half.
- Robert Scheer


HALF TIME

"I just told them we had to keep our poise and take it one drive at a time," Dungy said.

Manning said Dungy's steady approach helps steady the team.

"That calm look he has on his face," Manning said. "He's calm when you're down 21-3. He's just a cool customer and I think that spreads to the team."

Saturday's Words Motivated Colts Throughout Championship-Game Victory

Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy's not one for fiery speeches, pre-game, halftime or otherwise.

But he knows a good speech when he hears it. 

And on Saturday night, he heard one from Colts center Jeff Saturday.

Saturday, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a leader of the Colts' offense, spoke to the team late Saturday night. This was after the Colts' final meeting of that, and it came after Dungy's final words to the team.

He said, 'This is our time! We've got to make it happen!"

Saturday recalled it in detail . . . 

"I started by telling all the guys how much respect I had for each one and I believe in them," Saturday said. "We all knew this was our opportunity. I kind of made a parallel to the move, 'Miracle,' with Herb Brooks and what he said. The thing I tried to emphasize the most is, 'This is our time, this is our team. We just need to step up and make it happen.'

"Guys did it." 

Throughout the second half, as the Colts scratched and clawed their way back from a 21-3 first-half deficit and into their first Super Bowl in their 23-year history in Indianapolis, Dungy made sure Colts players didn't forget those words.

"All I did at that time was go up and down the sidelines and tell the guys, 'It's still our time - we got plenty of time left,''' Dungy said.

THIRD QUARTER

COLTS BALL

Indy got the first crack at offense in the second half and in a drive that lasted nearly seven minutes; Manning finally put six points on the board going 76 yards in 14 plays. Running by Rhodes started things off for 2 yards. Manning then found Marvin Harrison for 7 and then Rhodes again for a First Down and some.

Next play of the series, Rhodes again, this time finding a hole and breaking away for 10 yards, another First Down.

Rhodes again for 2 on the next play and then Peyton found Marvin open again for a pick up of 13 yards, First and Ten.

Rhodes again, this time for 5 yards. On the next play, Peyton threw incomplete to Reggie Wayne. however they made up for it on the next play for a gain of 12.

First and Ten and Peyton wings one over to Rhodes for 4 yards, then one over the middle to Aaron Moorehead for a gain of 8 with Colts again knocking on The Patriots door with a First and Goal at the 9 yard line.

Addai runs the ball on the next 2 plays picking up 4 yards on each carry. Colts at The Patriots 1 yard line.

Third and 1, the ball is snapped as Peyton Manning plows forward for the Touchdown!

Colts - 13  Patriots - 21

Vinatieri kicks off for 63 yards to Patriots 7 as Maroney runs it back for 11 yards before he is hit by Darryl Reid at the Patriots 18 yard line.

Patriots Ball

Brady takes the snap and throws a short pass to Caldwell incomplete. Faulk runs the ball up the middle on the next play for 8 yards as Robert Mathis prevents him from getting the First Down. Third and Two, and Brady finds Evans on the side at the line of scrimmage and is hit by Antoine Bethea and Jason David, knocking out of bounds for no gain.

As Indy and its crowd were looking like their back in this game with the three and out by New England further gave hope to the home team as Todd Sauerbrun boomed a 58-yard punt and the Colts had the ball back on their 24 down by only eight points.

COLTS BALL

Suddenly, it was if the Patriots defense that had played so stout in the first half, never came out of the locker room.

 Manning engineered a 7-play drive starting it off with a deep pass to Dallas Clark for a huge 25 yards. Colts and the The RCA Dome are fired up. Colts kept it on the ground this time with Rhodes breaking through for a whopping 19 yards!

Peyton fell incomplete on the next play to Harrison as Rhodes took the next play for a gain of 5, however Colts elected to take the penalty on Patriots', Richard Seymour for Neutral Zone Infraction and 5 yards enforced.

Addai is back in as he picks up 3 yards on the next play and Colts knocking on The Patriots Door again at the 19.

As Peyton threw incomplete on the next play, he throws deep into the end zone, to Reggie Wayne, who's given Ellis Hobbs the slip and is streaking down the sideline for a touchdown catch.

But Hobbs stays with Reggie. He closes on Wayne, chopping his feet to avoid bumping into the wideout, a sure penalty since his back is to the passer. Wayne's eyes widen, indicating the ball is on its way. Free from contact, Hobbs jumps up but doesn't turn to look for the football, which strikes Hobbs' left biceps from behind and falls to the turf dead.

Penalty flags fly, and referee Bill Carollo turns on his mic to let everyone know that the penalty's on the "Defense.

Pass Interference (face-guarding), Automatic First Down.

Little Side Note

 There is no NFL rule against face-guarding.
It is legal to face-guard a receiver. 
In order to have pass interference you must have contact. Any act without contact is not considered a foul.

On January 22, 2007, League official admits: a bad call was made

Not that it matters! Colts would have scored anyway!

on Colts next play, Peyton hooked up with Klecko, a former Patriots player who lined up at fullback and caught a swing pass for a 1-yard touchdown making it a 19 - 21 score.

Colts DT Dan Klecko dives towards the end zone with his third quarter touchdown.
photo by Matt Detrich

Indy successfully went for the two point conversion and the tie, with Manning hitting Harrison for the conversion

Marvin Harrison grabs this two-point conversion to pull things even at 21-21 in the third
(Getty Images)

 to tie the ball game with

Colts - 21  Patriots - 21

 

Just when all was looking good for The Colts with just about 4 minutes left in the Third Quarter , Adam Vinatieri kicks it off 71 yards, sending it a yard inside Patriots end zone . . .

Patriots Ball

Hobbs fielded the kickoff and headed out and immediately saw daylight up the right side. The speedy corner was off and not down until he was tackled at the Colts 21 by Matt Giordano.

On first down Maroney was hit by Gary Brackett for a loss of 1 yard. On second down, Brady hit Brown for 17 yards to the 5. Dillon lost a yard on the next play after being hit by Rob Morris and Caldwell dropped a straight up, dead in his hands, all alone in the end zone - easy touchdown pass on second down. On third, Brady had plenty of time as the Colts flooded the end zone with coverage. Finally, Brady spotted Jabar Gaffney along the back of the end zone and fired high as the Patriots scored on a controversial call  when Gaffney came down with a leaping touchdown catch after tip-toeing along the back line of the endzone, just managing to stay inbounds before jumping for the ball. Gaffney was hit just as one foot landed in bounds. The play on the field was ruled a touchdown as the refs determined Gaffney was pushed out of bounds. Tony Dungy challenged the play and it went into review.

The play stood and the Patriots took a 28-21 lead while the Colts lost what could be a valuable timeout in a close game.

Gostkowski kicks for 49 yards to Colts 21 as Wilkins runs it back for 12 yards to their own 33 yard line.

COLTS BALL

With a minute and 25 seconds left in the Third Quarter, Dominic Rhodes ate up all that time when  Peyton dumps a short right pass to Rhodes for a First Down, Colts at their 33.

Tight end Ben Utecht was injured during the play when he sprained his right knee. His return is Questionable.

Next play, up the middle, hitting Rhodes again, this time for 13 yards, another First Down. Colts are in Patriots territory on their 44 yard line.

Nine seconds left to end the Third Quarter and Peyton hands it off to Rhodes this time for him to bust through for a gain of 9, Colts are on Patriots 35.

FOURTH QUARTER

COLTS BALL
continued . . .

The Colts offense was at it again as the game entered the fourth quarter. They were making things look really easy with Dominic Rhodes ending the 3rd Quarter with him catching three passes for 11, 13 and 9 yards down to the Patriots 35.

As the fourth quarter opened, it was second and 1 for Manning and he handed to Addai for 3 and the First Down. Now with first and 10 from the 32, Manning lofted a beautiful pass that only Clark could catch and the tight end did just that 23 yards downfield putting them on the New England 9 yard line knocking on the Patriots door one more time.

Next play, Rhodes ran for 4 yards to end up on Pats 5 yard line.

On the next play a penalty call on Patriots' Tight End, JarvisGreen for a Neutral Zone Infraction put The Colts at half the distance of the goal (3 yard line) where on the next drive Colts came right back, and proving that one good offensive lineman deserves another when Peyton's handoff to Dominic Rhodes misfired, just as Brady and Maroney had done early in the game. The ball scooted forward and Colts center, Jeff Saturday got this touchdown, mimicking Patriots Offensive Guard, Logan Mankins' first quarter score as Colts tie the score at 28 - 28.


Lineman Jeff Saturday (63) scored by jumping on a Dominic Rhodes fumble near the goal line early in the fourth quarter.
Photo: Bill Frakes/SI

After that drive, Manning could be seen on the sideline, nursing a sore thumb and talking to Backup Quarterback Jim Sorgi, and you can plain as day see Peyton mouth the words, "Be ready!"
I PRAYED!

But he wasn't coming out.

January 22, 2007

"He's fine," Colts owner Jim Irsay said in an interview Monday night. "X-rays were negative."

The Colts are, however, concerned about the health of cornerback Nick Harper.

Harper sustained a sprained left ankle during the first quarter of the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. He did not return to the lineup.

Adam Vinatieri kicks it off for 73 yards 3 yards inside the Patriots end zone as Hobbs runs it out to their 27.

Patriots Ball

Patriots went no where as The Colts Defense poured it on allowing only a 4 yard pass to Watson, then Freeney laying out Maroney for a loss of two and on their third down, Brady connected with Maroney for 6 yards, not enough for a first as Patriots were forced to punt.
Colts' hard hitting safety, Bob Sanders was injured during the play.

COLTS BALL

 For the first time since their first possession of the game, the Colts had the ball and a chance to take the lead.

That chance was squandered as Manning tripped dropping back on second and 10 from his 22 for a loss of 7. An incomplete on third forced the punt and for the first time in what seemed like a very long time, the Patriots defense stopped the Colts offense.

Patriots Ball

Brown fielded the punt and his return and a penalty on the Colts kick team gave New England first and 10 at the Colts 43.

Brady went right to his wide receivers, hitting Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney for 16 and 14 yards down to the Colts 13. Once there, Brown was called for an illegal shift penalty.

On First and Fifteen, Caldwell lined up on the far right end of the line WITH NO ONE FROM THE COLTS COVERING HIM . . .

HE'S WIDE OPEN!

The ball is snapped, the whole Patriots sideline is screaming and pointing to the wide open, all alone, one of Patriots lead in receptions wide receiver, Reche Caldwell - of course, who wouldn't - Brady tosses the ball for what would have been at least 10 yards but he dropped the easy catch and the drive stalled.

The second time in this game Caldwell dropped
 an EASY TO MAKE catch.

Brady then threw for 8 yards to Evans and then threw incomplete to Caldwell on Third and Seven.

Brady walks off the field as the the Field Goal Team comes on for Stephen Gostkowski to kick a 27-yard field goal with 7:35 left to play.

Colts - 28  Patriots - 31

COLTS BALL

The Colts and Peyton Manning wasted no time as he hit Dallas Clark on the first play of their drive down the middle seam for 48 yards putting them on the Patriots 23 yard line.


Dallas Clark gains extra yardage as he is pursued by Artrell Hawkins of the Patriots in the fourth quarter.
Photo by Robert Scheer

Colts are knockin' again!

Rhodes runs the next play for 5 yards, however, Peyton throws incomplete on the next.

Third and Five and Peyton hits Rhodes for 2 yards as Vinatieri comes out and boots a 36 yarder through the goal post to tie the ball game

Colts -  31 Patriots - 31,
with 5:31 left in the game!

Patriots Ball

Vinatieri kicks 65 yards to the Patriots 5 yard line as Hobbs returns another good one for a gain of 41 yards to the Patriots 46.

 On first down Brady lofted a pass over the Colts linebackers that Graham caught for 25 yards.

4:39 left in the game, Patriots on Colts 29 as Brady throws 2 incompletions back to back.
Third and Ten and 4:29 left in the game, Brady from the shotgun fires to Evans for a whole gain of 4.

Again, Brady walks off the field as The Field Goal Team comes on and Gostkowski hits a 43-yard attempt making the score

Colts - 31  Patriots - 34
3:49 left to play

COLTS BALL

The tension in the RCA Dome was incredible.

Peyton starts this series from the Colts 20 yard line after a touchback by Gostkowski. From the shotgun, Peyton fires an incomplete pass to Clark.

3:46 left, Second and Ten as Peyton looks for Aaron Moorehead deep down the field as it went out of bounds.

3:41 left in the game and it's Third and Ten and Peyton fires another one to Moorehead as it came up incomplete!

NOW IT'S F@$#ING TENSE!!!!

Smith punts 56 yards to New Englands 24 as Brown returns it for 16 yards before he is hit by Kieth O'Neil at the Patriots 40.

Patriots Ball

On their first down, Patriots were called for a penalty having 12 men in the huddle, 5 yards, enforced at Patriots 40 - No Play.

First and Fifteen with 3:22 left on the clock as Brady connects with Caldwell for 7 yards before Marlin Jackson rips into him.

 Second and Eight with 2:39 left and Brady connects with Watson for a gain of 4 before he is met up with Antoine Bethea and Jason David.

Colts call their second time out with 2 1/2 minutes left in the game.

Third and Four yards to go for a first with 2:30 left in the game.
A first down could realistically put away the Colts.

Brady locked on receiver Troy Brown, who was slanting outside. Colts Safety, Bob Sanders read the play, broke on the pass and, for a split second, had it in his hands with nothing but open field in front of him. He couldn't hang on to it, but it was still a stop.

"I kind of stumbled for a second but I just wanted to break on it," Sanders said. "I don't care if I broke it up, caught it or scored; it didn't matter; it was going to give our offense another chance to put points on the board."

COLTS BALL

After a touchback, Colts at their own 20 yard line, Manning had 2:17 to either tie or take the lead.

TENSE! 
OH MY GOD,
TENSE!


Colts head coach Tony Dungy was unable to watch the Colts' final possession.
Photo by Sam Riche

Peyton Manning lines up in the shotgun, takes a short drop and rifles a pass to the left side to Reggie Wayne, who had run a quick out pattern against Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Crisp pattern, quick 11-yard gain. First down.

Manning is again in the shotgun, but this time he's pressured by Patriots end Ty Warren, who gets past guard Jake Scott. The pass to tight end Bryan Fletcher falls incomplete as Patriots linebacker Eric Alexander defends.

Second and Ten with 2:08 on the clock and Peyton again is in the Shotgun Formation. The ball is snapped, while backpedaling out of the shotgun to avoid Warren's pressure up the middle, Manning lofts a pass to the left side to Fletcher, who had drawn one-on-one coverage by Alexander and easily got past him. Back-up tight end Bryan Fletcher pulls in his only reception of the game, a 32-yarder.


Colts TE Brian Fletcher (81) steps out of bounds after he caught a 32-yard pass from Manning late in the fourth
photo by Matt Kryger

"This is scary to say because who knows where his ego will go from here, but that was his call," Manning said about Fletcher. "He said, 'give me a corner route on that guy.'

"So we called the appropriate play to get him on the corner route and they were really playing man-to-man."

The 32-yard pass to Fletcher put the Colts in field goal range.
The big gain allows them to start thinking about scoring 7 for the win rather than just 3 for the tie.

First and Ten on Patriots 37 with 2:01 on the clock and again Peyton is in the shotgun, Manning hits Wayne, who had run a quick left-to-right slant against Hobbs. Wayne makes the catch in stride for a 14-yard gain, and adds some heart-stopping theatrics by temporarily losing control of the ball as Chad Scott wraps him up. The ball squirts high into the air, but Wayne secures it as he's being tackled, and the completion becomes a 26-yard gain due to a penalty on Tully Banta-Cain for making contact with Manning's helmet.


Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Two-Minute Warning

First and Ten knocking on Patriots Door at New Englands 11 yard line with 1:53 left on the clock.

Colts are now in striking distance.

Joseph Addai powers over the right side for 5 yards.

Second Down and Five on Patriots 6 yard line and again with Addai as he runs up the middle for 3.

New England calls their first time out.

Third and Two and The Colts are knockin' HARD on Patriots front door just aching to get in!!!

1:02 remaining in the game and the rookie seals the deal. Joseph Addai takes a handoff from Manning and finds a clear path to the end zone as the middle of the Patriots defense opened up wide running between crisp blocks by guards Scott and Ryan Lilja and The Colts were one minute away from being in the Super Bowl!


Joseph Addai #29 of the Indianapolis Colts runs in a touchdown to take the lead late in the fourth quarter over the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship Game on January 21, 2007 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Addai continued through the end zone and leaped to the top of the stadium wall, where he was embraced by fans.


Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning celebrates the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots AFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007, in Indianapolis. The Colts won 38-34.
(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Vinatieri extra point is good . . .

Colts - 38  Patriots - 34

Patriots Ball

1 minute left to play and I myself, although pumped up and excited, was still a little weary. It's the Playoffs, it's The Patriots.

From the shotgun, Brady on his first play throws it incomplete.

"YES!"

49 seconds left and Brady again from the shotgun, fires to Watson for a gain of 19 yards.

"STOP 'EM COLTS!
LET'S GO "D""

31 seconds on the clock and ticking, Brady with a no huddle in the Shotgun finds Evans for a gain of 15 yards.

New England calls their 2nd Timeout 
with 00:24 left in the game.

First Down in Colts territory on the 45. Brady in the shotgun fires it over the middle to Watson . . .

GAME-CLINCHER:
Marlin Jackson spent the season switching positions, first playing cornerback, then switching to safety during a rash of injuries.

On Sunday, he got his reward. 

Because on Sunday, he made the play that secured the Colts' first trip to the Super Bowl in 36 years.

With the Colts leading, 38-34, and less than a minute remaining, Jackson - the Colts' first-round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft - cut in front of a pass from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. His interception at the Colts 35 secured the victory.


New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks off the field after throwing an interception in the final minute against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007, in Indianapolis. The Colts won 38-34
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

COLTS BALL

Indianapolis Colts at 0:16

Manning takes a knee . . .

GAME OVER!

Colts - 38  Patriots - 34

THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!

In the wild, confetti-strewn scene on the field afterward, owner Jim Irsay accepted the Lamar Hunt Trophy, and made it clear there's still work to be done.

"It's an incredible day for us,'' he said. "I just couldn't be happier for our team and for all our fans.

"We have one more mission! One more mission in Miami! We're not done yet!''


 Jim Plunkett (R) hands the trophy to Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts after the Colts defeated the New England Patriots 38-34 the AFC Championship Game on January 21, 2007 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Indy will now face the Chicago Bears on Feb 4 in Super Bowl XLI. The match-up will not just be about Peyton Manning's first trip to the big game or the Bears first trip since their magical 1985 season. there will be plenty of focus on it being the first time two African-American head coaches will face off in the season finale, Tony Dungy of the Colts and Lovie Smith of the Bears.

Last time they met, Bears had no answer

The Indianapolis Colts marched into Soldier Field on Nov. 21, 2004, and gave the Bears a black eye. A big one, A 41-10 thrashing. Edgerrin James ran for 204 yards, Peyton Manning threw for four scores, and both sat out the entire fourth quarter.

Game Notes 

  • This was Manning's first come-from-behind win in the playoffs

  • Three lineman in all scored touchdowns in this contest

  • The Colts are now 1-3 in AFC Championship games since 1970

  • Manning ranks second on the NFL's consecutive starts list, behind Brett Favre. He has started 156 consecutive games, including playoffs, in his nine-year career.

In fact, Manning has only missed one play because of injury - in a 2001 game against Miami.

Dolphins defensive end Lorenzo Bromell hit Manning with his helmet under the chin strap, fracturing Manning's jaw and drawing blood. Backup Mark Rypien replaced Manning, botched the handoff on the ensuing play and the Dolphins returned the fumble for a touchdown. Bromell was later fined $15,500 for the helmet-to-helmet hit.

  • Colts tight end Dallas Clark has three 100-yard games in this year's playoffs, matching the number he has in 48 career regular-season games. He's the first tight end in NFL history with two 100-yard games in the same postseason.

  • The Patriots hold a decisive 41-27 edge in their all-time regular season series with the Colts, but have lost each of the last three meetings with Indy.

  • Las Vegas oddsmakers installed Indianapolis as a one-touchdown favorite in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4 at Miami's Dolphin Stadium.

 

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