Patriots owner Robert Kraft recalled the moment like it was yesterday. In fact, it was nearly nine months ago.
"It was a horrible feeling," Kraft told USA TODAY, as he reflected on the New England Patriots' loss to Indianapolis in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.
"You want to do whatever you can to not have that feeling again. … Usually, our defense holds up so well. That's a great tribute to the Colts. They made a tremendous comeback. But it was a shock to us. Very depressing. Very draining."
As for this weekend's rematch, much like Bill Belichick did Wednesday, Colts coach Tony Dungy praised his upcoming opponent after his first round of film-watching.
"I've watched them [on tape] and they're really the same as they've been. They're very impressive in that they don't beat themselves. That's probably the first thing that you see. You don't see a lot of errors. You see very sound play in all three phases of the game. I think they're kickoff return and kickoff coverage is impressive as anything they do. And that tells you how well coached they are," Dungy told the Terre Haute News.
"Defensively, they're very similar to the team that we've always seen. They've just added a couple more cogs. They've got [safety] Rodney Harrison back and [defensive end Richard] Seymour played last week. And [former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Adelius] Thomas. So they've got some more weaponry there. But they've played very solid. They've run and hit. And they're hard to move the ball on."
Not to be outdone in the compliment-fest was Belichick, who, in a conference call with Indy-area media, gushed about the Colts.
"The Colts are the best team in football. They're champions; nobody's beaten them. They do everything well. They're very good on offense and defense. They don't turn the ball over. They don't give up big plays. They're versatile. They can stop the run. They can rush the passer. They can run it, they can throw it, they can play-action. They can have possession passing game when they want to. They can get it down the field."
Dungy's response: "I hope he's a prophet."
Finally, if you're a Pats fan, here's a refreshing angle to this whole "Good vs Evil" argument that's been taking place in print, on the airwaves, and in cyperspace this week. A Washington Post columnist says she's enjoying New England's "imperial march" toward greatness, as she writes:
*I have a weakness for world conquest, which may explain my fascination with the New England Patriots. You can have the sentimental underdog; I'll take the dynasty or the empire every time. There's an imperial marching quality to the way the Patriots have trampled their NFL competition, which I frankly appreciate. *
This is a team that clearly wants to sweep the board, own everything from Egypt to Babylon. There are those who don't appreciate the Patriots, who find their dominance cold and unappealing. This is merely weakness, a common complaint from those whimperers and whiners who don't understand what dark beauty lies in dominion and the exercise of total power.
Sounds like Colts WR Marvin Harrison, who's hasn't played lately, will suit up again Sunday versus New England.
MSNBC.com claims "all the pressure is on the Pats" in an on-line feature today.
If the Colts don't defend LB Mike Vrabel, on either side of the ball, they could be in for a long day, according to CBSSportsline.com.