--CB Asante Samuel returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 21-3 lead. The interception return for a touchdown was the third of Samuel's 11-game playoff career, tying Oakland's Willie Brown for the highest career playoff total in NFL history. He has now returned three of his four career playoff interceptions for touchdowns and has recorded a total of five career interceptions returned for touchdowns (including two in the regular season). He has recorded an interception in four of his last five playoff games dating back to last season.
|New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins (70) celebrates his first quarter touchdown after recovering a fumble against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007, in Indianapolis. At right is New England Patriots guard Steve Neal (61). (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)|
--G Logan Mankins recovered a Laurence Maroney fumble in the end zone in the first quarter to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead. The touchdown was the first of Mankins' career and was the first touchdown scored by a Patriots offensive lineman since Dec. 17, 2005, when offensive tackle Tom Ashworth caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady after lining up as an eligible receiver in the Patriots' 28-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
--CB Ellis Hobbs recorded an 80-yard kickoff return immediately following a Colts touchdown that tied the game at 21 in the third quarter. The return gave the Patriots starting field position at the Colts 21-yard line and was the key play to set up a six-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Jabar Gaffney that gave the Patriots a 28-21 lead and capped off a five-play, 21-yard drive.
--The Patriots dropped to 19-12 (.612) all-time in the playoffs, a mark that ranks second to only the Green Bay Packers for the best playoff winning percentage in NFL history (minimum 10 games). Of the team's 19 playoff wins, 15 have come since Robert Kraft purchased the club in 1994. Over that span, the Patriots lead the NFL in total victories (144), Super Bowl championships (3), conference championships (4), playoff wins (15) and playoff games played (20). New England is also tied for the NFL lead since 1994 with nine playoff seasons.
--"I told him congratulations and good luck. He's a great competitor. He's always fought out there. I'm out there playing against him every time we play and he's got his heart and soul out there on the field. So I just wanted to wish him congratulations and good luck in the Super Bowl." -- LB Tedy Bruschi on what he said to Peyton Manning after the game.
Colts coach Tony Dungy on Peyton Manning's playoff legacy: "You know, Tom Brady is a great quarterback. Peyton (Manning) is a great quarterback. Peyton has brought us back a lot of times. We haven't had this opportunity and had a chance to do it on this stage before. There was no doubt in anybody's mind that we were going to take that football and score. Once our defense stopped them, I think we all felt good that Peyton was going to drive us, and I just think it's great for him to get to the Super Bowl with a drive like that. I don't know if that -- it probably won't shut anybody up until we win one, (it will) still be, 'Well, can you win the Super Bowl?' Peyton Manning is a great player. Anybody who doesn't know that doesn't know much about football."
|Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy watches from the sidelines during the first quarter of the AFC Championship football game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)|
-- Dungy on watching New England QB Tom Brady with the ball in his hands in the final minute of the game: "We knew it was going to come to that. We can't play against mystique. We can't play against the past. If he has the ball, we got to get pressure on him, make him move his feet. They didn't have a lot of time. That was one thing going to a minute, going 80 yards. The key thing, Adam Vinatieri was going to squib the ball. Adam said he would kick it five yards in the end zone, and we covered it. We kicked it deep, and they had to go a long ways. That's a tough situation for any quarterback to have to go that far with a minute."
-- QB Peyton Manning on how it felt to come out with a win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game: "It's a good feeling because of how hard we worked this season. I know how hard I've worked, how hard our team has worked. It's always nice to see hard work rewarded, you know, with a great opportunity to go down to Miami to win here at home. I first just have to say how special the fans have been today and tonight, really all season. The kind of support they've given us made a big difference, and what a difference they made in today's game."
--WR Reggie Wayne had five catches for 68 yards in the AFC title game win over New England. But perhaps the play he will best be remembered for was a catch on the team's game-winning drive where he momentarily bobbled the ball up into the air and then caught it again
"I didn't see the play at the time," coach Tony Dungy said later. "I was watching the officials because they had called a penalty. I didn't know if was roughing on them or holding on us. I heard the crowd groan and then cheer, so I knew that something had happened.
"It wasn't until I was watching the highlights of the game afterward that I finally saw what had happened on the play."
--DT Dan Klecko had not scored a touchdown since high school before coming up a two-yard TD catch in the regular-season finale with Miami. Klecko sometimes lines up as a fullback in short-yardage and goal line situations for the Colts, something that he also used to for the New England Patriots.
After being released by the Patriots at the end of training camp,. Klecko has become a good backup on the defensive line along with his offensive duties. He recorded his second career NFL touchdown in the AFC title game with the Patriots, catching a one-yard flip against the team that had originally drafted him.
--CB Marlin Jackson has had two interceptions during his first two years in the league. The Colts' top draft pick in 2005, Jackson has been used at both cornerback and safety due to injuries at the safety position.
His interception of New England QB Tom Brady was his first postseason interception in two years.
"I was thinking that is the game, we're on our way to Miami. 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."
Jackson went down to the turf after taking a few steps, remembering what had happened to Chargers S Marlin McCree in the AFC divisional game with the Patriots. McCree fumbled the ball, which was subsequently recovered by New England and turned into a touchdown.
"I knew (Patriots wide receiver) Troy Brown was around somewhere, so I just wanted to protect the football," Jackson said. Brown was the Patriots player who had forced McCree's fumble.
-- PK Adam Vinatieri will be playing in his fourth Super Bowl, three coming with New England.