LAW AND ORDER
Ty Law recorded three interceptions today, setting the Patriots playoff record for picks in a game and giving him the franchise record with four career postseason picks. Law began his big day by intercepting Peyton Manning's first pass of the Colts' second possession, keeping the early momentum on the Patriots' side. He then dove to grab a Manning pass late in the third quarter to give the Patriots possession at the Colts' 20-yard line and snuffed out a fourth-quarter Colts drive with a pick with 8:17 left in the game. Before today, his only other playoff interception was a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI. Law now has seven career interceptions off of Manning in 10 games against the Colts signal caller. The 2003 Pro Bowler has returned two picks for touchdowns against Manning in his career.
The Patriots scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the fifth consecutive game, dating back to the Jacksonville game on Dec. 14. Today, the Patriots got the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards on 13 plays, culminating in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to David Givens. New England scored a touchdown on its opening drive in each of its last three regular-season games and has done so in both postseason contests.
Rodney Harrison picked off a Peyton Manning pass intended for Marcus Pollard in the end zone to snuff out the Colts' first drive of the afternoon. It was Harrison's second interception of the postseason. Including his pick of Steve McNair last week, Harrison has stolen a pass from each of the NFL's co-MVPs in consecutive weeks. New England has recorded at least one interception in all 10 home games this season and has notched a pick in 17 of its 18 games, including the postseason.
Jarvis Green sacked Peyton Manning three times today. He had 2.0 sacks in the regular season in 2003 and has 4.5 sacks in his regular-season career. His first sack came with 5:15 left before halftime, setting up a third-and-long for the Colts and snuffing out an Indianapolis drive that ended in a high snap on a punt that resulted in a safety and a 15-0 Patriots lead. Green sacked Manning again with 9:03 left in the game on third-and-6 to set up a fourth down play on which Ty Law recorded his third pick of the game. Green recorded the hat-trick when he dropped Manning again on third down with five minutes left in the game.
The Patriots scored the first postseason safety in team history when Colts long snapper Justin Snow snapped the ball over punter Hunter Smith's head and Smith kicked the ball out of the end zone.
A WINNING TRADITION
The Patriots joined an elite group in winning their third conference championship since 1996. New England is one of 10 teams in the Super Bowl Era (since 1966) to win three conference championships in a span of eight seasons. The Patriots appeared in Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season, Super Bowl XXXVI after the 2001 season and are now going to Super Bowl XXXVIII following the 2003 season.
THREE OR MORE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS IN AN EIGHT-YEAR SPAN
|New England||1996-03 (96,01,03)|
|San Francisco||1981-94 (81,84,88,89,94)|
|Oakland/L.A. Raiders||1976-83 (76, 80, 83)|
THE GREATEST SHOW IN SNOW
Light snow was falling at kickoff, making today's Patriots game the third snowy game of the season and the seventh snow game in Foxborough in the team's history. New England is now 7-0 all-time in snowy games in Foxborough. On Dec. 7, New England played Miami at the end of a two-day snowstorm that dumped up to 30 inches of snow in the Foxborough area. The Patriots won that game, 12-0, to clinch their second AFC East title in three seasons. The following week against Jacksonville, moderate snow fell in the second half of the Patriots' 27-13 win. The last time the Patriots were in the playoffs, they played in one of the most memorable snow games in team history, a 16-13 overtime victory over the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoffs at Foxboro Stadium.
SNOW GAMES IN FOXBOROUGH (7-0)
|12/14/03||JAX||25||Snow in 2nd Half||W||27-13|
|12/07/03||MIA||28||Cold, Snow, Wind||W||12-0|
|01/19/02||OAK*||25||Snow, 3-5 inches||W||16-13 ot|
|12/10/78||BUF||28||Snow, Some Sun||W||26-24|
HOT WHEN IT'S COLD
Since 1993, the Patriots are 16-2 when the kickoff temperature is below 35 degrees. The temperature at kickoff today was 32 degrees. This is the fifth game the Patriots have played this season in temperatures below 35.
COLDEST GAMES SINCE 1993 (16-2)
|01/10/04||TEN*||4||Wind Chill –10||W||17-14|
|12/26/93||IND||19||Wind Chill –1||W||38-0|
|12/21/96||at||NYG||24||Wind Chill 17||W||23-22|
|12/14/03||JAX||25||Wind Chill 16||W||27-13|
|12/10/95||NYJ||26||Wind Chill 12||W||31-28|
|01/12/97||JAX*||27||Wind Chill 11||W||20-6|
|12/07/03||MIA||28||Wind Chill 17||W||12-0|
|12/20/03||at||NYJ||30||Wind Chill 20||W||21-16|
|12/24/00||MIA||31||Wind Chill 22||L||24-27|
|12/16/01||at||BUF||34||Wind Chill 25||W||12-9 ot|
|12/12/93||CIN||34||Wind Chill 23||W||7-2|
|12/17/00||at||BUF||35||Snow/W.Chill 23||W||16-13 ot|
|12/28/97||MIA*||35||Wind Chill 25||W||17-3|
|01/01/95||at||CLE*||35||Wind Chill 25||L||13-20|
Antowain Smith ran for 100 yards today, becoming the third Patriot to break the century mark in a playoff game. It's the fourth time in team history the feat has been accomplished and the first time since Curtis Martin set a Patriots playoff record with 166 yards on the ground in the divisional round against Pittsburgh (01/05/97). Smith has been solid in the playoffs, gaining 69 yards on 16 carries last week and notching 92 yards on 18 carries in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, the Patriots have won more conference championships than any other team in the NFL. The Patriots have won three conference championships since 1996 and have won more conference titles than any other team in the past 10 years.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1994
New England Patriots 3
Denver Broncos 2
Green Bay Packers 2
St. Louis Rams 2
11 Other Teams 1
The Patriots have won 14 consecutive games dating back to September, the second-longest winning streak in a single season in NFL history. The only team to have more consecutive victories in a single season is the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who won 17 consecutive games en route to an undefeated season.
The Patriots are 4-0 in AFC Championship Games since the Super Bowl Era began following the 1966 season. The Patriots have the most wins without a championship-game loss of any team in the NFL.
PATRIOTS IN THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (4-0)
The Patriots have compiled a 12-10 record in their 22 playoff games. New England has qualified for four Super Bowls (XX, XXXI, XXXVI and XXXVIII) and also in the 1963 AFL Championship Game.
PATRIOTS ALL-TIME PLAYOFF RESULTS (12-10)
|02/01/04||Super Bowl XXXVIII||TBD|
|02/03/02||Super Bowl XXXVI||St. Louis||W||20-17|
|01/19/02||AFC Divisional||Oakland||W||16-13 ot|
|01/03/99||AFC Wild Card||at||Jacksonville||L||10-25|
|12/28/97||AFC Wild Card||Miami||W||17-3|
|01/26/97||Super Bowl XXXI||Green Bay||L||21-35|
|01/01/95||AFC Wild Card||at||Cleveland||L||13-20|
|01/26/86||Super Bowl XX||Chicago||L||10-46|
|01/05/86||AFC Divisional||at||L.A. Raiders||W||27-20|
|12/28/85||AFC Wild Card||at||N.Y. Jets||W||26-14|
|01/08/83||First Round Playoff||at||Miami||L||31-28|
|01/05/64||AFL Championship||at||San Diego||L||10-51|
PATRIOTS PLAYOFF RECORD BY ROUND
First Round* 0-1
Wild Card Round 2-2
Divisional Round 5-4
Conference Championship 4-0
AFL Championship 0-1
Super Bowl 1-2