Here we go again -- the Patriots and the Colts for their fifth playoff matchup since 2003 and the third that will determine which team represents the AFC in the Super Bowl. The Patriots beat Peyton Manning's Colts, 24-14, to advance to the Super Bowl back in 2003 and then won a rematch, 20-3, in the Divisional round a season later. In 2006, Manning's Colts won a 38-34 AFC Championship shootout in Indianapolis and then in the first Andrew Luck rendition of the match-up, the Pats won a 43-22 game in last season's Divisional round.
The New England Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens in a Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, January 10, 2015.
Both teams enter this week's game coming off epic wins. The Patriots were the first team to overcome two 14-point deficits in a postseason game. It was an amazing, dramatic win, but was not without concern. The Patriots defense struggled against the Ravens balanced attack, but Tom Brady and the offense carried the day and played a mentally tough game to help the team gut out a win over a tough, physical Ravens team.
The Colts, meanwhile, played a complete game in Denver to advance to Foxborough. Their defense showed no fear of the Broncos talented receivers and played the run well, something it did not do in its last two meetings with the Patriots, including one earlier this season when unknown Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns. So Indy's challenge this week will involve figuring out why the Patriots have been so effective running the football against them.
With the Patriots set to play in their 11th AFC Championship Game and sixth at Gillette Stadium, let's take a capsule look back at their previous 10 Patriots appearances in the conference title game.
January, 19, 2014
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
The Patriots fell behind early in this one and unlike last week's win over the Ravens, they simply could not overcome as Peyton Manning and the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl. The Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead and led 13-3 at halftime. Denver scored the first 10 points of the second half and led, 23-3, with 12 minutes left in the game. The Patriots had neither the time nor the firepower to come back. The Pats were outgained 507-320 and only held the ball for 24:16. Tom Brady was 24-for-38 for 277 yards and a touchdown but could not get his team in end zone with any consistency. Manning, meanwhile, was 32-of-43 for 400 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second straight season in which the Patriots lost the AFC Championship Game.
January 20, 2013
Hosting the Ravens for the AFC Championship for the second straight season, the Patriots were shut out in the second half and watched the Ravens celebrate on the Gillette Stadium field. The Patriots scored 10 points to end the first half and led 13-7 at the break. Tom Brady was 14-for-24 for 139 yards in the half with a touchdown, while Joe Flacco was a pedestrian 6-for-12 for 81 yards and just couldn't get Baltimore's offense going. But the second half was all Baltimore as it turned to Flacco to attack the Patriots secondary. He threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta with 6:14 to go in the third to give the Ravens a 14-13 lead. A holding penalty set the Patriots back on its ensuing possession, which led to a three-and-out. The Ravens took advantage, driving 63 yards in 10 plays and culminating it a 3-yard TD pass from Flacco to Anquan Boldin for a 21-13 Ravens lead. The turnover bug bit the Patriots after that, which sealed their fate. Baltimore turned a Stevan Ridley fumble into another second-half touchdown, this one on an 11-yard Flacco-to-Boldin pass and an insurmountable 28-13 fourth quarter lead. New England's last two possessions ended in Brady interceptions and the Ravens moved on to the Super Bowl. Brady was 15-for-30 with 2 interceptions in the second half.
January 22, 2012
The Patriots have had plenty of dramatic playoff games since 2001 and this one ranked right up there. New Englanders might call it the Myra Kraft game. Ravens fans likely summarize it with two words – Billy Cundiff. The teams traded field goals and touchdowns in the first half before Stephen Gostkowski connected from 35 yards for a 13-10 halftime lead. It was 16-10 when the Ravens Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 29-yard touchdown and a 17-16 Ravens edge with 3:38 left in the third. Danny Woodhead fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Ravens quickly extended the lead to four on a 39-yard Cundiff field goal. Tom Brady had an interception overturned when Terrell Suggs jumped offside and the Patriots took advantage of the miscue, completing a 63-yard drive with a 1-yard Brady touchdown dive and a 23-20 lead. A Brandon Spikes interception set the Patriots up at midfield with a chance to extend the lead, but Brady threw an interception of his own on the first play. Leading by the three, the Patriots stopped the Ravens on a fourth-down play with 2:46 remaining, but Baltimore was not done. The Ravens forced a three-and-out and took over on their 21 with two timeouts and 1:44 to go. Flacco to Boldin proved lethal as Baltimore moved quickly into striking range. It was second-and-one from the Pats 14 with 27 seconds left when Flacco appeared to hit Lee Evans in the end zone for the winning score, but cornerback Sterling Moore reached in and knocked the ball free at the last second. Two plays later, Cundiff came on to attempt a game-tying 32-yard field goal. That's when Myra Kraft may have stepped in to help the home team. The Patriots matriarch lost her battle with cancer just before that season and it is part of Patriots lore that she sent Cundiff's chip-shot, game-tying field goal wide left to send the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
January 20, 2008
The Patriots entered the 2007 title game an undefeated 17-0 with the hopes of completing a perfect season. Their high-flying, record-setting offense seemed unstoppable, but it was the defense that would rise and send New England to Super Bowl XLVII as it helped the Patriots overcome three Tom Brady interceptions in a 21-12 Championship Game win. The Chargers took advantage of Brady's first interception to take a 3-0 lead, but the Patriots answered with a 10-play, 65-yard touchdown drive. It was 7-6 when Asante Samuel intercepted Philip Rivers to set the Patriots up at the San Diego 24. Two plays later, Brady hit Jabar Gaffney for a 12-yard TD. The Chargers added another field goal to make it 14-9 at halftime. Brady was then intercepted again to start the second half, but the defense held firm and forced a field goal to preserve the lead at 14-12. Brady's third interception came in the Chargers end zone on a third-and-goal-from-the-2 play, but the Patriots defense forced a punt, and with another chance, Brady tossed a 6-yard scoring pass to Wes Welker for a 21-12 lead with 12:15 left – a lead that stood and sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl in Arizona. The defense held Rivers to just 19-of-37 passing with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
January 21, 2007
The Patriots led 14-3 early in the second quarter when Asante Samuel extended it with a 39-yard interception return of a Peyton Manning pass for a 21-3 lead that was cut to only 21-6 at halftime. But Manning came out on fire in the second half. He opened it with a 1-yard touchdown run to complete a 14-play, 76-yard drive, and after a Pats three-and-out, he marched his team right downfield and completed a 1-yard touchdown pass to former Patriot Dan Klecko. He tied the game with a successful two-point conversion pass to Marvin Harrison. Just more than 11 minutes into the half and the Patriots lead was erased. New England finally answered, though, and retook the lead following an 80-yard Ellis Hobbs kickoff return and a 6-yard TD pass from Tom Brady to Jabar Gaffney for a 28-21 Patriots lead. Indy wasted no time tying the game at 28 on its next possession before Stephen Gostkowski sandwiched two field goals around an Adam Vinatieri field goal for a 34-31 Patriots lead with 3:49 to go. The defense held and forced an Indy punt, but the Patriots offense could not convert a third-and-four with 2:30 to go and had to give the ball back to Manning at his own 20 with 2:17 left. He quickly completed three passes for 57 yards and had another 15 tacked on by a roughing-the-passer penalty to set the Colts up at the Patriots 11 with 1:53 still left. From there, Joseph Addai carried three times for the winning touchdown with 1 minute left.
January 23, 2005
The 14-2 Patriots had to go on the road as the No. 2 seed in 2004 to visit the 15-1 Steelers, who earlier in the season, had ended the Patriots NFL-record 21-game winning streak. Back-to-back big plays in the first quarter staked the Patriots to an early lead that shocked the Heinz Field crowd. Trailing 3-0, Pittsburgh faced a fourth-and-one from the Patriots 39. It decided to go for it and handed to The Bus, Jerome Bettis, who was stopped short by Mike Vrabel and also fumbled the football. The Patriots took over on their own 40, and Tom Brady immediately connected with Deion Branch for a 60-yard touchdown pass and a 10-0 lead. It was 17-3 when the Patriots defense made another huge play, this time when Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was baited into a throw by safety Rodney Harrison, who intercepted the pass and ran 87 yards for a touchdown and a 24-3 Patriots lead. Pittsburgh scored to make it 24-10 on its opening possession of the second half, but a 25-yard Corey Dillon touchdown run made it 31-10. Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 31-17 with 2:35 to go in the third, and after trading field goals, the Patriots put the game away when Branch took a reverse and raced 23 yards for a touchdown and an insurmountable 41-20 lead. Pittsburgh added a touchdown in the final minute, but the Patriots advanced to their third Super Bowl in four years.
January 18, 2004
The Colts stampeded into Foxborough for the AFC Championship game on a torrid offensive pace having not punted in its first two postseason games, but it was New England that jumped ahead on its opening possession. It converted a fourth-and-one from its own 44 and then completed a 13-play, 65-yard drive with a 7-yard, Tom Brady-to-David Givens touchdown pass. Peyton Manning and the Colts appeared poised to match the score after driving to the Patriots 5, but Manning was flushed from the pocket and threw to the end zone for tight end Marcus Pollard only to see safety Rodney Harrison intercept the pass in the end zone. The Pats drove for a field goal and a 10-0 lead before Ty Law intercepted Manning to set up another Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 13-0 Patriots lead. The Pats defense then forced the Colts first punt of the offseason, but the snap sailed over the head of punter Hunter Smith for a safety to make it 15-0. Indy opened the second half with a touchdown drive, but the Patriots kicked two field goals to take a 21-7 lead before two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time started trading interceptions. Law snared his second of the game just before the end of the third. Brady gave it back with an interception of his own on a third-and-goal-from-the-three play; then Law completed his hat trick by intercepting Manning at the Patriots 11. Indy still managed to get with seven after a touchdown with 2:27 left, but a 34-yard field goal with :50 to go sealed the New England win.
January 27, 2002
The Patriots, fresh off the Snow Bowl playoff win over the Raiders went to Pittsburgh as double-digit underdogs against the top-seeded Steelers. The Patriots scored first on a Troy Brown 55-yard punt return for a 7-0 lead. New England led 7-3 with 1:59 to go in the half when Tom Brady completed a 28-yard pass to Brown to the Pittsburgh 40, but Brady suffered an ankle injury after being hit low as he released the pass. Drew Bledsoe came off the bench, shook of the rust of a four-month layoff and completed three straight passes to David Patten for 36 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown throw for a 14-3 halftime lead. Midway through the third, the Patriots special teams did it again. Brandon Mitchell blocked a 34-yard field goal try, which Brown scooped up and lateraled to Antwan Harris, who scampered 49 yards for a touchdown. Pittsburgh didn't go away, however, scoring on its next two possessions to make it 21-17 entering the fourth quarter. A 44-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal made it 24-17 and then Tebucky Jones and Lawyer Milloy each snared interceptions to secure the shocking upset win, which sent the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVI.
January 12, 1997
Thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars upset win over the Broncos in Denver, the Patriots hosted the AFC Championship for the first time in team history. New England scored first on a 1-yard Curtis Martin touchdown run on the team's opening possession. The Patriots took a 13-3 lead into halftime, as the defense kept the clamps on elusive Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell. It was 13-6 midway through the fourth quarter when the Jags drove to the Patriots 5-yard line looking to tie it. That's when Willie Big Play Clay stepped up and intercepted Brunell in the end zone to preserve the lead. The Patriots failed to take advantage of Brunell's miscue but did capitalize on running back Jonathan Stewart's a few minutes later. Linebacker Chris Slade punched the ball from Stewart directly into the arms of Otis Smith, who returned the fumble 47 yards for a touchdown and a 20-6 lead that sealed a Patriots Super Bowl berth. The game also featured a short delay after sections of the Foxboro Stadium lights went out during the game, an embarrassing moment that served to highlight the team's need for a new, modern stadium. The Patriots advanced to face the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.
January 12, 1986
Fresh off two straight road playoff wins, the Cinderella Patriots traveled to Miami's Orange Bowl where they had lost 18 straight games over a 19-year span. The upset-minded Patriots were confident, though, and used their strong running game behind Craig James (22 for 105), Robert Weathers (16 for 87) and Tony Collins (12 for 61) along with an outstanding defensive effort to snap the losing streak (some called it the Orange Bowl Jinx) and earn the franchise's first Super Bowl berth. Overall, the Patriots ran the ball 59 times for 255 yards on a soggy day in Miami while the defense held Dan Marino to 20-of-48 passing for 248 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. The Patriots also recovered four Dolphins fumbles (while losing two of their own). New England turned Miami's first fumble into a field goal and 3-0 lead. Marino and New England's Tony Eason then traded touchdown passes before the Patriots turned a Marino fumble into another Eason TD pass for a 17-7 halftime lead. The Pats extended that to 24-7 on the second half's opening possession and then thwarted a Miami drive with a Fred Marion interception in the end zone. Miami turned a Patriots turnover into a quick score to make it 24-14 with 14:28 left in the game, but another Dolphins turnover set up New England's final TD on a 13-yard Craig James run to seal the upset and a trip to Super Bowl XX to face the Bears. The Patriots became the first team in history to win three straight road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl and the opportunistic club forced 16 turnovers in the three playoff wins – at the Jets, Raiders and Dolphins.
About The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon
The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon is the crown jewel of Patriot Place and the only sports and education experience of its kind. Through a dazzling array of interactive multimedia exhibits and artifacts never before viewable by the public, The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon showcases the tradition of the New England Patriots, explores the history of football in New England, and promotes math and science education for the thousands of schoolchildren expected to visit each year. For more information, please visit www.thehallatpatriotplace.com.