COLD HARD FACTS

<p>The New England Patriots dismantled the high powered Indianapolis Colts offense. Holding Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrision and Edgerrin James to 3 points was just the icing on the cake.</p> <p>Chris Timoney runs down the key moments of how this underappreciated Patriots team stuffed one of the best offenses in the NFL. </p> <p>The Patriots beat the Colts 20 - 3 to advance to the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.</p>

PHOTO: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass as teammate Jake Scott (73) blocks New England Patriots Rosevelt Colvin during the second quarter of their AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005, in Foxboro, Mass. (AP Photo/ Stephan Savoia)

COLD HARD FACTS
Pats Stall Colts Attack, Now Head to Pittsburgh
by Chris Timoney

“An awesome performance.”

That’s how Bill Belichick described Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff win against the Colts. I’m sure all in Patriots Nation would agree.

Once the snow started to fall in Foxboro Sunday afternoon, so did the chances of the heavily hyped Indianapolis Colts of finally pulling out a big win against the Patriots.

After limiting this seasons most explosive offense to only three points, the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots move on to the AFC title game in Pittsburgh against the now 16-1 Steelers. Without the services of key players like Richard Seymour, Ty Law and Tyrone Poole New England beat the Colts, again, 20-3. The loss drops Peyton Manning to 0-7 in Foxboro while New England runs it’s home winning streak to 20 games.

Manning and the Colts couldn’t get anything going from the get-go. On their first two possessions of the game they went three-and-out and didn’t score in the first quarter. A sharp contrast to last weeks 14 points the Colts scored inside the RCA Dome versus the Broncos. The Patriots didn’t fair much better throughout most of the first quarter as neither team scored in the opening stanza. In fact defense highlighted the start of the game.

Troy Brown made a nice play to break up a Manning pass intended for Brandon Stokely on 3rd an 9 near midfield, forcing the Colts to punt. For the Colts, Tom Brady was sacked late in the quarter by Montea Reagor. Brady was not sacked at all during last year’s post-season.

The Reagor sack closed out the first quarter with the score tied at zero.

The sack came midway through a drive that started back at the New England 16. A heavy dose of ball control running by Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk helped the Patriots move the ball out to midfield.

New England opened the second quarter in a no-huddle shotgun offense in hope of catching the Colts defense a bit off guard. The strategy worked as Brady completed 4 straight passes for 31 yards in moving the ball down to the Colts ten yard line, setting up a first and goal for New England. A 3 yard scramble up the middle by Brady, followed by two Dillon runs set up a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line. Coach Bill Belichick hesitated little in deciding to go for six. Bringing in goal line staple, linebacker Mike Vrabel along with Russ Hochstein reporting in as eligible, the Pats were poised for a touchdown. Dillon got the ball and ran over the right guard into the endzone, but a flag was thrown. Offensive lineman Matt Light jumped early and was called for a false start penalty. The Light infraction moved the ball back to the six yard line and Belichick trotted out Adam Vinatieri for the automatic 3. Vinatieri’s 24 yard field goal put New England up 3-0 with over ten minutes to go until halftime. Not only did the drive give the Patriots the lead, but it also kept Manning and the Colts offense off the field for over 9 minutes.

The nine minute breather didn’t serve Tony Dungy’s offense to well. On the first play of the ensuing drive Manning was sacked by Mike Vrabel, jarring the ball loose and forcing a fumble. The Colts recovered the loose ball, keeping possession but facing a 2nd and 22 situation from their own 22 yard line. On the second and long play Manning(27 of 42 for 238 yards) was almost picked off by linebacker Willie McGinest on a short pass intended for tight end Dallas Clark. The Colts punted 2 plays later and the Patriots would take over at their own 39 yard line with 9:22 left in the half.

On 2nd and 10 from the 39, Corey Dillon took a handoff from Brady and darted down the sideline for 42 yards down to the Colts 19 yard line. The New England offense would only be able to muster another 6 yards on the drive and again settled for an Adam Vinatieri field goal from 31 yards out.

The kick put the home team up 6-0 with just under eight minutes to go in the half.

The Colts actually got some offense going after taking over possession from their own 31 after a short kickoff by Vinatieri. Peyton started to complete passes and Edgerrin James finally got going as the Colts moved the ball into New England territory. On 2nd and 17 from the Pats 39 Manning completed to Dominic Rhodes over the middle. Rhodes was met by Ted Bruschi who stripped the ball out of Rhodes’ hands for the turnover, ending the Colts first legitimate drive of the game.

The Patriots were unable to do much with the ball and punted back to the Colts with under 2 minutes to go in the half. Feeding off the success of the previous drive(minus the turnover) the Colts came out gunning as Manning worked the 2 minute offense by completing for 13, 16 & 11 yards at the start of the drive. Two smaller passes of five yards to Edgerrin James and Brandon Stokely moved the ball down to the New England 22 yard line with 42 seconds remaining. After an illegal motion on Manning on an attempted direct-snap trick play, Manning completed to Dallas Clark for ten yards and Stokely for 5 yards moving the ball down to the 12. With 22 seconds left Manning completed to Marvin Harrison(5 catches for 44 yards) for seven yards down to the 5 yard line. In a last ditch effort to put the ball in the endzone Manning looked for Reggie Wayne over the middle and was nearly picked off by Eugene Wilson.

The Colts settled for a 23 yard field goal by Mike Vanderjagt and went into the half down 6-3.

The second half started out much like the game did as neither team could do much with its first possession. Yet with it’s second possession of the half the Patriots began its march to victory. Starting out at their own 13, the Pats began a drive that would keep Manning & Co. Off the field until the end of the third quarter. A 17 yard completion to tight end Christian Fauria got the Patriots from out of the back of their end of the field. From there a steady diet of Dillon & Faulk(11 rushes for 56 yards) advanced the ball another 33 yards down to the Colts 38 yard line. Brady then completed to Patrick Pass for 14 yards before getting back to the running game. A five yard run by Dillon(23 rushes for 144 yards) was followed by three Kevin Faulk runs that moved the ball down to the 5 yard line. On third and 5 in trips right formation, Brady, a touch under pressure, stepped up in the pocket and found David Givens in the endzone for the touchdown. After an 8:16 drive and the third quarter winding down New England was up 13-3.

With the pressure on to overcome recent history in front of a hostile crowd Manning and company just couldn’t get it going. On their ensuing drive th Colts went 5-and-out after gaining only 15 yards.

New England got the ball back with over 14 minutes left in the game and started out on another “keep Manning off the field” drive. This time starting out on their own six, Brady & Co. Used more a mix of pass and run to move the ball. New England got some help via a pass interference call on 2nd and 10 from their 29 on a pass intended for David Givens. The penalty gave the Pats a fresh set of downs just shy of midfield. Runs by Brady, Dillon, Faulk and Deion Branch moved the ball down to the 28 yard line. On 3rd an 8 from the 28 Corey Dillon broke off an amazing 27 yard run that fell just shy of the goal line. On the run Dillon started up the middle before hitting a cluster of players 7 yards down field, from there Dillon stopped and headed to the outside taking the ball down to the 1 yard line. Brady(18 of 27 for 144 yards, 1TD) punched the ball in on the very next play and the Patriots were up 20-3 with just over seven minutes left in the game.

On the Colts second play of the ensuing drive Reggie Wayne was hit by safety Rodney Harrison and the ball was knocked loose. Again it was linebacker Ted Bruschi who came up with the loose ball and the game was basically sealed right there.

The Colts did manage to get the ball back one more time and moved deep into Patriots territory. With 12 seconds left from the 20 Manning’s ineffective day was capped off when Rodney Harrison picked off a pass in the endzone intended for Marvin Harrison.

The win silenced all the talk of Peyton Manning and the Colts explosive offense, at least until next September, and have the Patriots moving on to their third AFC title game in 4 years. The win also had the head coach beaming with pride. “They gave a tremendous effort today”, said Belichick, “Everybody did an outstanding job...our best 30 minutes of football(in the second half)”.

GAME NOTES:

Dillon’s 42 yard run in the second quarter was the 3rd longest in Patriot’s playoff history. Bill Belichick is now 8-1 in post-season play as a head coach. New England had possession of the ball for nearly 40 minutes(37:43). Both teams combined to go 14-27 on 3rd down. Tom Brady is now 7-0 in post-season play. Regarding next weeks game against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers: Since 2001, Quarterbacks are 0-13 in second meetings in a season, yet 5-8 in the first meeting. The loss was the 6th straight for the Colts against the Patriots. New England’s drives of 9:07, 8:16 & 7:24 were their longest of the season.

 

Chris Timoney provides is a site contributor for the Patriots Insider. You can find him in the forums under the name: jakbrown. You can also find archives of his columns on the Insiders by using the search feature on this site.

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