The Patriots lept to an early lead, which they squandered in the second half, but ultimately held off a Colts rally in dramatic fashion to emerge victorious, 38-43.
Tom Brady started the game off in spectacular fashion, completing over a dozen consecutive passes, as the Patriots roared to a 17-0 lead by early in the second quarter. Following an initial comeback by the Colts, capped off by a Manning-to-Pollard touchdown pass with twelve seconds left, Patriots kick returner Bethel Johnson raced 92 yards with a kick-off to push the Patriots lead out to two touchdowns at halftime, 24-10.
The Patriots lead extended to three touchdowns midway through the third quarter, with Mike Cloud scoring his second touchdown of the day to put the Patriots up 31-10.
Then, the Colts stormed back. Peyton Manning led the Colts back through the air, throwing two touchdown passes in little over a minute to Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. The Colts knotted the score at 31 several minutes later as Manning struck again, this time on a six-yarder to Troy Walters.
With the Colts riding momentum, Johnson, Brady and the Patriots struck back. Bethel Johnson provided the Pats with fantastic field position following another long kick-off return, this time for 67 yards. Several plays later, Brady hit Deion Branch with a 13-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots a 38-31 over eight minutes left.
Then, it was again the Colts turn. Their first drive following the Branch touchdown yielded only a Mike Vanderjagt field goal of 29 yards, as the Colts gambled that Manning could get the ball again and drive the Colts to their seventh score of the game. The strategy was destroyed by the Patriots defense, which kept the Colts out of the end zone after a last second first-and-goal opportunity.
What a thriller! Stay tuned for more coverage on the new-and-improved Patriots Insider!