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Monday, November 22, 2010

Brady wins this round in Patriots-Colts epic rivalry

Nothing will ever change fourth and two gate, Bill Belichick's worst playcall of his life last season that helped speed up the Patriots' chokejob to the Colts.

Indy came into Gillette Stadium yesterday afternoon having won five of their last six against New England. It was a far cry from Tom Brady's first six games against Peyton Manning (6-0).

That is only the tip of the iceberg why New England's nail-biting 31-28 win meant so much for this season and James Sanders' clutch pick could be a hallmark moment of a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations (yes I said it).

Recent history has shown that the winner of this game - the best rivalry in the NFL at the moment - goes farther in the playoffs so it was nice to see the Pats (8-2) come out on the right side of a chokejob by Manning (3 INTs).

It never should have been that close since just like last year, New England was up 17 points in the fourth quarter (31-14) but the offense couldn't close on a terrible Colts (6-4) defense.

Brady (19 for 25, 186 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT) and the offense were clicking in the first half. Manning (38 for 52, 396 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs) began the game with a overthrow that was picked off by Mr. Big Bang Clock himself Brandon Meriweather and returned 39 yards.

Brady made quick work of the short field and found Wes Welker (5 catches, 58 yards) with a picture perfect 22-yard touchdown pass.

Aaron Hernandez made it 14-0 early in the second quarter but any thoughts of a Pats blowout were ignorant given the opponent and how last year not to mention the 2006 AFC Championship game played out.

I hate to use injuries as an excuse (and it was tough this season with the Red Sox) and football is a brutal game but I will admit that the Colts have about as many important players out as I can ever remember. It's basically Peyton, Reggie Wayne (8 catches, 107 yards) and a bunch of scrubs.

One of those bums - Gijon Robinson - pulled in a 1-yard touchdown pass from Manning to cut it to 14-7 in the second quarter. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (21 carries, 96 yards) answered with a 5-yard touchdown run, his fifth straight game with a TD.

Wayne kept it close as he reeled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Peyton with four seconds left in the first half, making it 21-14 Patriots.

The only score of the third quarter was an electrifying 33-yard run by Danny Woodhead where he left multiple Colts defenders with broken ankles. Almost as bonerific as that was the fact that on the ensuing kickoff, Woodhead raced down the field and made the tackle. You know you'll be buying a pink Woodhead jersey this Christmas for your wife, girlfriend or favorite stripper/hooker.

Shayne Graham's 25-yard field goal, after Julian Edelman couldn't snag a fastball from Brady on the goalline, gave New England its final points at 31-14.

From there, Manning went into Madden rookie level mode. Blair White (5 catches for 42 yards), who was subbing in for Austin Collie (5 catches, 60 catches) when he picked up another concussion, had a 5-yard touchdown catch then an absurd 18-yard touchdown catch that left it at 31-28 New England with a lifetime (4:46 left) remaining in regulation.

New England's offense picked up one first down before punting back to the Colts. Peyton got greedy though at the end as he had gotten Indy well into field goal territory but he rushed to the line and threw a terrible pass that wasn't close to any receiver.

Devin McCourty had the other interception in the third quarter and he added six tackles (five solo). Jerod Mayo had 15 tackles (11 solo) and Gary Guyton posted nine tackles (six solo).

It's a very short week for New England as they go to Detroit for the 12:30 p.m. Thanksgiving day game vs. the Lions. I mean where would you rather be on Thanksgiving?

The stinker against the Browns a few weeks back should safeguard against any letdown on Thursday. The Patriots are tied atop the AFC East with the Jets, who picked up their third straight lucky win, and they both possess the best record in the AFC and tied with the NFC's best (Atlanta Falcons).

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