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(Sunday, November 15th)
Final Score: Indianapolis 35, New England 34
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - In a game that lived up to all the hype, the Indianapolis Colts pushed their regular season winning streak to 18 games, using a pair of touchdown drives from Peyton Manning in the final four minutes in a shocking 35-34 victory over New England.
Reggie Wayne caught the winning one-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left, but the victory was helped by a questionable 4th-and-2 decision by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Facing the situation from their own 28 with 2:08 left, the Pats decided to go for a first down with the possibility of running out the clock. Kevin Faulk juggled the ball on a pass from Tom Brady before being driven backward by the Colts' Melvin Bullitt for a one-yard gain.
"If we make that play we probably win the game," said Brady. "Coach was being aggressive and I love that about him. He gave us a chance to make the play, but we came up a little bit short."
Belichick exhausted his team's timeouts during the possession and thus couldn't challenge the spot of the ball.
"I thought we could make the yard. We had a good play, we completed it. I don't know how we couldn't get a yard on that completion, but I guess we didn't," said Belichick.
That gave Manning the ball, and four plays later he moved the Colts (9-0) to the end zone. He threw 15 yards to Wayne before Joseph Addai rumbled up the middle to the one. After a rush for no gain by Addai. Wayne dove in the end zone for the go-ahead TD catch with Matt Stover converting the extra point.
"In those situations I think you elect to do what you think is best," stated Colts coach Jim Caldwell about New England's fourth down call. "That's a decision he (Belichick) made and we had our work for us out of the way."
Manning connected on 28-of-44 throws for 327 yards and four touchdowns and two interceptions. Wayne had 10 receptions for 126 yards and two scores as the Colts rallied from a 17-point deficit in the final quarter.
Brady finished 29-of-42 for 375 yards with three TDs and an interception for the Patriots (6-3), but it was the call on 4th-and-2 that ultimately opened the door for Manning to complete another incredible comeback.
"Not much surprises me with New England," said Manning. "You kind of expect the unexpected. I can't lie, you certainly get a little nervous. Obviously, you might get a short field, but the game might be over."
Randy Moss caught nine balls for 179 yards and two scores in defeat. His five- yard touchdown grab 42 seconds into the fourth quarter moved the Patriots to a commanding 31-14 lead. The Patriots had to drive just seven yards thanks to a 69-yard punt return from Wes Welker.
Manning came right back, throwing a 29-yard TD strike to Pierre Garcon, but he was picked off later in the fourth, leading to Stephen Gostkowski's 36-yard field goal with 4:12 remaining and a seemingly comfortable 34-21 New England cushion.
Addai then scored on a four-yard run on a drive that went 79 yards in just 1:49. That set up the crazy finish.
The Patriots got the ball back at their 20 following a touchback on the kickoff, but before the team ran a play Belichick burned the team's second timeout of the half. The Colts called their first timeout after a running play for no gain by Faulk, Brady then threw eight yards to Welker, causing the Colts to spend their second timeout, but Brady was incomplete on a third down try. Belichick then called his final timeout to discuss his fourth down options.
The decision played a huge part in finishing New England's three-game winning streak, although the Patriots still have a two-game lead atop the AFC East.
Pinned at their own 20, Brady was only able to complete a nine-yard pass to Welker on the game's final play.
The Colts continued their incredible run, having not lost in the regular season since falling at Tennessee, 31-21, last October 27.
Addai scored on a 15-yard pass midway through the first quarter, but Laurence Maroney ran in from a yard out later in the period to tie the game.
Gostkowski split the uprights from 31 yards away in the early stages of the second and Moss' 63-yard TD grab, less than two minutes later moved the Pats to a 17-7 edge.
It became 24-7 on Brady's nine-yard scoring toss to Julian Edelman, but Wayne hauled in a 20-yard scoring pass with 4:17 left until the half.
The teams combined for no points in the third quarter and then 31 in a frantic fourth, although the Patriots saw a golden opportunity go away. Maroney fumbled into the end zone and the Colts recovered for a touchback with 2:41 left in the third.
The Patriots host the AFC East rival New York Jets next weekend, while the Colts play at Baltimore next Sunday...Moss became the 11th player in NFL history to reach 900 career receptions...Indianapolis has won five of the last six meetings. That includes a victory for the Colts in the AFC championship game in January 2006. Last season the Patriots fell to the Colts, 18-15. The last five meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less...The Patriots own the longest regular season winning streak at 21 games (2006-08) and also won 18 in a row (2003-04)...The Colts won their 11th straight home game...Caldwell surpassed Potsy Clark (Portsmouth, 1931, 8-0) for the best start by a rookie head coach in NFL history...Manning (301) became the first NFL QB with 300-plus passing touchdowns in a decade...Indianapolis tight end Dallas Clark tied the franchise record for career receptions by a tight end (320, John Mackey)...This marked the first time the Patriots, under Belichick, lost when leading by at least 13 in the final quarter.
11/16 03:52:45 ET