Win Over Patriots Alters Playoff Picture

The Indianapolis Colts remain the only undefeated team in the AFC and one of two unbeaten teams in the NFL. Heading into this week's road game with the Baltimore Ravens, the Colts (9-0) know that Sunday night's win over the New England Patriots has huge implications in regard to the AFC playoff picture.

Even though Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell tried to downplay the significance of what a win over New England would mean in the days leading up to the game, Colts players knew exactly what was at stake.

"It is a huge win. That was really the main reason we wanted to win it. Obviously there is a lot of drama that comes with a big game. The main reason is it's an AFC team, certainly a home game," Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning explained.

"Teams in our division are winning. Tennessee is kind of getting hot. Jacksonville is getting hot. Houston, we certainly know how good of a team they are. That is what we are trying to do, staying ahead of those teams."

Weak-side linebacker Clint Session said that finding a way to beat a team like the Patriots showed that Indianapolis is never really out of any game.

"A win like this just shows the character of your team. Everybody knew we were 8-0, but they felt like we weren't playing anybody. We had a chance to play a tough team in New England, and we came away with a victory. It just boosts us up down the road," Session said.

"We're going to be faced with times like this, and we know we can always come back to this game showing the character of our team and know that we can pull everything through when it comes down to it."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

— QB Peyton Manning tied Brett Favre for the most consecutive seasons with 20 or more touchdown passes at 12. Manning had four TD throws against New England.

— RB Joseph Addai was expected to see a doctor in order to assess a finger that he hurt in the first quarter of the New England game. No results will be announced on Addai's injury until today at the earliest.

— WR Reggie Wayne called his own play on the Colts' game-winning touchdown catch, a 1-yard pass from QB Peyton Manning. Manning had wanted Wayne to run a fade pattern, but the veteran receiver had his own ideas.

"I gave him my CC Sabathia shake-off. It was initially a fade route. We had just run the fade the last series and it was unsuccessful. I wanted to do the same thing, show fade and just come with the slant, and it worked," he said.

— WR Pierre Garcon had three catches for 50 yards, including a touchdown, against the Patriots. He also dropped a few more throws than normal.

"It feels good, but I don't feel totally redeemed. You can't let an easy (pass that could have gone for a second touchdown) get away like that, and I'll always want it back. I'm going to see it on tape, and I'm going to be upset all over again," Garcon said.

— TE Dallas Clark came into the New England game as the team's leading receiver. He left trailing WR Reggie Wayne. Clark now has 64 receptions for the year, while Wayne has 69. Clark had four receptions for 65 yards against the Patriots.

— CB Marlin Jackson was named as the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award after a vote of his Colts teammates. The award is an annual recognition for courageous play. Jackson, who battled back from a season-ending knee injury last year, is one of 32 NFL players cited for the award.

— FS Antoine Bethea had a touchdown-saving interception in the end zone against New England. It was his third interception of the year, which leads the team.

"It was just the coverage. Coach always tells us, 'Read the quarterback.' Randy (Moss) got behind us a couple of times early in the game, and we knew they were going to come back to it. I got a good read on the quarterback," Bethea said.

"I was telling my teammates on the sideline after giving up that touchdown, 'I'm going to get one back for y'all.' That was my thing I wanted to do, get one back for my team, and I was able to go and make a play."

— SS Melvin Bullitt had the big fourth-down tackle of Patriots RB Kevin Faulk late in the New England game. QB Tom Brady's short pass to Faulk netted only 1 yard when the Patriots needed 2 to keep the drive alive.

"As soon as the ball came, whether (Faulk) caught it or not, I knew he wasn't at the yard marker. Our (secondary) coach (Alan Williams) did a great job of telling us the routes they were going to run in that situation," Bullitt said.

"He alerted us, if we get into this situation, either Faulk or (wide receiver Wes) Welker would get the ball. We took his advice and went with it."

— DE Dwight Freeney saw his quarterback sack streak come to an end against the Patriots. Freeney had recorded a sack in nine straight games.

"(New England's offensive line) did a great job. They quick-counted when they needed to. They slid the protection when they needed to. I was guessing wrong sometimes. I couldn't get there. Like I've always said, if they (sacks) come, they come, (and) if they don't, they don't," he said. "You don't really know when it's going to happen. The big thing is about winning the game. I'm just happy that we won this game and I get two days off now so I don't have to come in."

— LB Gary Brackett unofficially recorded 11 total tackles against New England. Brackett now has 54 total tackles for the season, ranking third on the team behind FS Melvin Bullitt and WLB Clint Session.


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