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Patriots.com News Blitz - 1/22/2007

Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe explains that the Patriots appeared to have a secure lead before the game turned into a wild shootout, ultimately ending in a 38-34 Colts victory. New England had been 15-0 all-time in the playoffs when leading at the half.

Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe explains that "[Peyton] Manning finally fulfilled his destiny and purged the ghosts of Belichick and Brady last night as the Colts roared back from a 21-3 deficit and defeated New England, 38-34, for the AFC Championship in front of 57,433 ecstatic Midwesterners at the RCA Dome."

The Boston Globe's Jackie MacMullan writes, "Somebody switched the script. Whoever was supposed to deliver the scintillating ending to the respective locker rooms ... must have committed and error." "I just felt we should have won this game," said defensive lineman Ty Warren. "Just the fact that we were up, 21-3, and we didn't finish them off. That hurts more than anything else."

Ron Borges of The Boston Globe recounts the Colts game-winning drive. "Their defense got caught in a losing situation that pitted reserve linebacker Eric Alexander against Colts backup tight end Bryan Fletcher. Fletcher won the battle after getting behind Alexander for a 32-yard reception with just over two minutes remaining," explains Borges. Alexander finished with a team-high 10 tackles in his first ever NFL start.

Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe reports on 33-year-old linebacker Tedy Bruschi. After concluding his 11th season, he was asked if he thinks about seeing the finish line of his career. "You can't play forever," he said. "That's what all of us do at the end of every year -- you take inventory and see how you're feeling. Right now, my plan is to reflect on this year."

John Powers of The Boston Globe reports on the quarterbacks, explaining that Manning couldn't watch Brady's final drive, which ended in an Indianapolis interception.

Mark Blaundschun of The Boston Globe reports on Tom Brady.

The Boston Globe's Jim McCabe features Colts defensive lineman Dan Klecko, who was with the Patriots during training camp. He caught a touchdown pass to tie the game 21-21. "It was a mutual breakup. There's no bad blood whatsoever. I wish those guys all the luck in the world," said Klecko of his former team. Linebacker Mike Vrabel spoke fondly of Klecko on Friday.

Joe Sullivan of The Boston Globe features cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs had a number of key plays in the game, some positive, some negative. "There's no excuse, we didn't execute," said Hobbs. "What happened in the second half? I honestly don't know. Maybe we sat back and got comfortable. We had the dagger in but just didn't twist it."

The Boston Globe's David Abel explains that "the sudden demise of the Patriots was good news for police, who reported no game-related arrests shortly before midnight in a city that has been rocked in recent years by celebrations following sports contests. Several people have died in the chaos; and city officials said they weren't taking any chances after the past mayhem."

John Tomase of the* Boston Herald* offers his game story, explaining that "the Colts rallied from an 18-point deficit to shock the Patriots last night and advance to their first Super Bowl since the days of Don Shula with a 38-34 victory at the deafening RCA Dome."

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald reports on the Patriots final drive of the game, which ended in an Indianapolis interception.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald takes a look at the Patriots defense, which was picked apart by Manning in the second half of the game, according to Guregian. "They executed better than we did," said linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. "Every time we needed to make a play, we didn't."

John Tomase of the Boston Herald explains that Bruschi is unsure of his future plans. "In my past few years I've just gone year to year," Bruschi said. "I'm really emotional right now, so to say anything right now would be wrong. I need to sit back and reflect on this season."

Albert Breer of The MetroWest Daily News reports on backup quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who's never been part of a Super Bowl team. "I just love doing what I do," said Testaverde. "I can't think of anything that would come close to giving me the joy that I get out of doing this. I think it's a good situation, doing what I love doing. I get to come out here and help some young guys and, at the same time, have an opportunity to be in the AFC Championship Game."

Dan Ventura of the Boston Herald reports on wideout Reche Caldwell, who blamed himself for missed chances.

Albert Breer of The MetroWest Daily News reports on no-longer-rookie kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who kept his poise last night.

Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald reports on Manning, who just hours before the game was still considered "the latest of the great athletes who can never win The Big Game."

The Boston Herald's Steve Buckley explains that Bears coach Lovie Smith became the first African-American coach to lead his team past the conference championship round. A few hours later, Colts coach Lovie Smith became the second. The coaches met with Chiefs coach Herman Edwards, also an African-American head coach, a few weeks ago for dinner. "The wives set up the dinner," said Dungy. "We talked about how we all started together in Tampa in 1996," said Dungy.

Dan Ventura of the Boston Herald offers the play of the game, a 32-yard pass from Peyton Manning to tight end Bryan Fletcher in the Colts game-winning final drive.

Karen Guregian of the* Boston Herald* offers the best and worst moments of the game.

Albert Breer of* The MetroWest Daily News* takes a look at the Patriots unselfish defensive line.

Shalise Manza Young of The Providence Journal reports on the game, explaining that it ended in much the same fashion as their first meeting of the year did.

The Providence Journal's Shalise Manza Young offers a feature on cornerback Asante Samuel, who tied the NFL record of three career interceptions returned for a touchdown when he ran one back last night. Samuel is a free agent at the end of this season.

The Providence Journal's sports staff explains that the loss doesn't dim the Patriots legacy.

Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal offers the play of the game, a questionable offensive pass interference call on veteran wideout Troy Brown in the second quarter. Had the Patriots avoided costly penalties in that drive, the Colts may not have had a chance to kick a field goal just before halftime.

Alan Greenberg of the* Hartford Courant* picks a different crucial play as the turning point in the game. Also included are other notes.

"A stereotype bit the dust at 10:18 p.m. Sunday night," writes Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant, who features Manning.

Rich Garven of The Worcester Telegram & Gazette explains that the Pats were perfect on fourth downs last night, but just 5 for 14 on third downs. The lack of efficiency on third down likely cost them the game, according to Garven.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette's Rich Garven features linebacker Eric Alexander, who made his first career start against the Colts, and went the distance.

Jennifer Toland of The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that former Patriots Vinatieri and Klecko beat New England last night and are headed for another Super Bowl.

Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle explains that "for once, the magic wasn't there." He offers a game story on the loss.

If you're already feeling nostalgic, you can take a look back at where the Patriots stood on Friday before the loss happened by following this link to USA Today's Inside Slant on the Patriots.

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