The Patriots enter this game, which will be played at Indy's RCA Dome, with a road record of 8-1 this season. Moreover, the Patriots haven't lost in their away white jerseys. Their only road loss came at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, who prefer to wear white at home in the heat so the Pats wore blue. The Colts are 9-0 at home this season (including playoffs).
"I think sometimes we might play a little better on the road," said Pats quarterback Tom Brady on Wednesday. "We haven't played in that stadium in a few years. We know how tough they are at home. It's exciting because five and a half months of football games come down to 60 minutes of football. The team that is most prepared and goes out and executes the best this weekend will be the team that moves on and represents the conference."
According to coach Bill Belichick, the fact that this game will be held in the Colts dome doesn't impact the team's preparation for the game. The Patriots have been known to practice inside the Dana Farber Field House with loud music playing to simulate crowd noise, although that hasn't been the case this week while the media was present. They had the heat cranked way up at practices prior to their last road loss in sunny Miami.
"I don't think it really affects [preparation] too much. I mean I'm not saying there aren't issues there. There are certainly crowd noise issues, and the [players'] speed [is increased]," Belichick said. "But we've got no control over that. I mean I don't think we would say, 'Well, we don't want to run this pass, or we don't want to run on that defense.' I can't remember ever saying anything like that. Now, if you're playing in a blizzard, then that's a different story."
Brady has never lost inside an NFL dome (10-0). He said he didn't think the noise in the RCA Dome would be much of a factor this week, adding that Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is fast whether he's in the dome or not. Freeney recorded a tackle and a quarterback hurry in the Pats Nov. 5 loss to the Colts at Gillette Stadium. He's recorded 2.0 sacks this postseason after notching 5.5 sacks during the regular season.
"We use a silent snap count. The silent count which most teams use on the road now," Brady said. "They play very well on the turf. Freeney is fast everywhere. He was fast on our field, if you can imagine that, when it was that mud and painted dirt."
This won't be the first time the Patriots have to take on a tough opponent away from home this postseason. Before last Sunday's 24-21 win in San Diego, the Chargers hadn't lost at home all season. On Wednesday, tight end and offensive co-captain Daniel Graham explained that team unity has helped the Pats play strong away from home this year.
"I think with road games as a team we... I'm not going to say we don't bond here at home, but on the road there is something different when you have to bring your own energy to the game," said Graham. "We have to do that again this week. It is going to be another hostile environment, so we have to bring our 'A' game and be prepared to bring our own energy."
Safety Artrell Hawkins agreed.
"I think [winning away games] just has to do with execution and understanding how difficult it is to play on the road," Hawkins said. "You go into the game with the guys that you have in the locker room and the guys that you came on the bus with. We understand that that's pretty much all that's gonna be there.
"We've just been good at counting on one another, making plays and bailing each other out when it comes down to it. And a bit of luck. You can never discredit that."
The Patriots held practice inside the Dana Farber Field House today, and everyone but defensive end Ty Warren was present during the portion of practice available to the media. That means safety Rodney Harrison returned to practice, as did offensive linemanRyan O'Callaghan, defensive lineman Mike Wright, and receiver Troy Brown. Brown, Wright and O'Callaghan were all stricken with the Flu this week.