The combination of a good Colts defense and the stellar performance of Colt running back Joseph Addai allowed the Colts to control tempo of the game early. New England found itself unable to put points on the board in the first quarter for the first time all year. From there the concerns snowballed. Poor tackling and untimely penalties allowed the Colts to take a lead into the half on a 73-yard catch and run by Joseph Addai. The score came with under a minute in first half. It was the first time the Patriots had trailed at the midway point in a game all season.
The Colts took advantage of the Patriots' decision to run a nickel defense most of the first half, but were unable to get points on the board when Richard Seymour tipped a 50-yard field goal attempt by Adam Vinatieri. It was Vinatieri's first miss ever in the RCA Dome as a member of either the Patriots or the Colts.
New England struggled to get into any type of rhythm on offense, while the defense looked old and slow. A pair of pass interference penalties gave the Colts an early advantage. The first was for 37-yards called on Asante Samuel and gave the Colts the ball on New England's 9 yard line. It set up an Adam Vinatieri field goal to give Indianapolis a 3-0 lead. The following Colts possession, a questionable pass interference penalty on Ellis Hobbs gave the Colts the ball on New England's 6 yard line, setting up another Vinatieri field goal.
It was the Patriots ability to force the Colts to kick field goals in the red zone that kept the game from getting out of hand. In what could have been a rout for the Colts, instead the Patriots defense blocked one field goal attempt and made two defensive stands allowing the Patriots to keep the score at just 7-6 to New England's advantage. New England put their points on the board courtesy of a Brady to Moss touchdown.
Tom Brady led the Patriots down field for what could have been the score to put them up 14-6. Instead, Brady misfired by under-throwing Donte Stallworth at the Indianapolis 2 yard line for his third interception of the year, and the Colts took advantage. Manning led the Colts on a 6-play, 98-yard touchdown drive in a minute and a half, topped by a 73-yard Joseph Addai catch and run for a touchdown, to put Indy up 13-7.
The teams headed to the locker room with the Patriots trailing at the half for the first time all season.
A three-and-out by New England followed by the Patriots inability to take advantage of a Rodney Harrison interception on the Colt's first possession of the second half added to New England's struggles. Brady was able to get some momentum going when he drove the team 75 yards in 11 plays to close the lead to just three points, 13-10, on their next series. A 19-yard Brady scramble on third-and-7 kept the drive going long enough to get into field goal range.
Manning was not done though. After trading possessions, the Colts got the ball back on an under-thrown pass by Tom Brady, resulting in an acrobatic interception by Colts linebacker Gary Brackett at the Indianapolis 25 yard line. A 28-yard return and an unsportsmanlike penalty on Matt Light gave the Colts prime field position at the New England 32. Manning wasted little time. 8 plays later, Manning carried the ball over the goal line himself to extend Indianapolis' lead to 10 points, 20-10.
Whether it was the crowd noise, or the knowledge that the they were running out of opportunities to score that got New England going. Brady took control of the game at that point and didn't relent using the weapons that had served him well all season, Donte Stallworth, Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
The Brady to Moss connection proved too much for Indianapolis' defenders as Antoine Bethea banged into Moss early in an attempt to stop the talented receiver from coming down with a 55-yard bomb from Brady. Despite the pass interference, Moss still caught the ball, giving New England a first and goal from the 3. Wes Welker scored three plays later to cut the lead to 3 with just under eight minutes left in the game.
Although it was late, New England dialed up the pressure on Manning. Indianapolis had the ball back with a three-point lead, the home crowd advantage and just under 8 minutes to go. If they could have managed a pair of first downs, the game would be over They just couldn't do it. A holding penalty put Manning into a bad situation where he had to pass on a third and 15. Sacked by Rosevelt Colvin at the Indy 21, the Colts had to punt to Welker. A move they would regret.
New England Patriots wide receiver Donte' Stallworth, right makes a reception against Indianapolis Colts safety Antoine Bethea (41) in the fourth quarter of NFL football action in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
With the ball on his own 49, thanks to Welker's 23-yard punt return, Brady was given the perfect position for the comeback. Three plays after getting his hands back on the ball, Brady threw his third touchdown pass of the night, a 13-yard strike to Kevin Faulk to put the Patriots on top for good, 24-20. The drive was highlighted by a 33-yard sideline reception by Donte Stallworth who was ruled out of bounds by a force out. The play set up Faulk's score from the 13.
One more series for Manning ended in disappointment when Jarvis Green sacked the Colts signal caller forcing a fumble, which Rosevelt Colvin recovered. The Patriots were able to run the clock out to secure the win.
The win left the Patriots as the lone undefeated team in the NFL at 9-0. It also broke the 3-game losing streak New England had facing the Colts.
Tom Brady threw two interceptions on the day and took until the fourth quarter to get going. The late game heroics earned him his 25th come from behind victory
Brady continued his streak of throwing three or more touchdowns in a game to nine. The mark breaks a record he held with Peyton Manning at 8. Manning set the mark in 2004.
The Patriots had 10 penalties for 146 yards, the most ever in the Bill Belichick era, and a single-game franchise record. Two of the infractions were pass interference plays resulting in 77-yards awarded to the Colts. The old mark of 139 yards was set in 1983
Official Game Thread: Patriots Vs Colts