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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Sep 25 - 12:00 AM | Sun Sep 27 - 10:40 AM

Patriots drop tough one to Colts, 30-23

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            **Indianapolis –** Despite showing its best running attack all year, the Patriots were once again victimized by red zone inadequacies as three opportunities deep in Colt territory materialized into only nine points. Those trips cost them as they wound up at the short end of a 30-23 score.  

Still, it was the Patriots game to lose going into the fourth quarter as New England held a huge time of possession advantage and a 23-14 lead.

To get there, New England moved the ball impressively while taking advantage of several Indianapolis mistakes.

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            The Colts repeatedly shot themselves in the foot and one of the biggest hobblings came in the third quarter when Jeff Burris was called for his second pass interference penalty on the day on a throw intended for Troy Brown. That call moved the Patriots from its own 29 to the Colts 31.  

After Faulk made it down to the Colts 1 on a nice spin move but a better tackle by Indy's Tony Blevins, the Patriots were faced with a third and goal. Bledsoe mishandled the snap, fumbled, but recovered and it was fourth and goal. Not wanting to settle for yet another field goal after three prior, New England went for it.

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            The call was a Bledsoe keep up the middle. Indy was ready for it and the pile-up ensued. A tough call, but the field officials signaled touchdown. Head Coach Jim Mora of the Colts challenged the call but not enough evidence was available to overturn and the Patriots had some breathing room at 23-14.  

New England needed it because with 6:16 left in the game, Indianapolis had pulled within two at 23-21. Three New England penalties, an Otis Smith hold, a Greg Spires QB roughing (questionable) and an Antonio Langham pass interference in the end zone were extremely helpful to the Colts scoring cause. The drive ended with a little flip from Manning to James from the 1 for the score.

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            That's when the Patriots needed to hold on to the ball most, but three plays later, they were punting and the Colts had the ball first and 10 on their own 34 with 4:31 remaining – plenty of time – and down by only two.  

The Colts capitalized. Six plays later they were in the end zone as Edgerrin James pounded the ball for big gains along the way and finishing with a 3-yard run to make the score 27-23 Colts. Indy tried, but failed, for a two-point conversion.

New England took over with 2:05 left on the clock, one timeout and the two-minute warning. But as the roar of the crowd grew deafening, all the once-impressive offense could manage was 4 yards on a Faulk run and three incomplete passes.

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            Indy capped their scoring with a final field goal and their comeback was complete. With the win, the Colts improved to 5-2 while New England goes into their bye week at 2-6.  

The best way to keep one of the most explosive offenses in the AFC from scoring points is to keep them off the field, and with 44 offensive plays to the Colts 12 in the first half, that is exactly what the Patriots managed to do. The ball was in the hands of the New England offense for an amazing 23:19.

In one of the best Patriots drives in recent memory, the Patriots took the opening kickoff and moved 89 yards and 18 plays in 8:43 for the game's first touchdown.

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            After Kevin Faulk mishandled the kick, the Patriots started on their own 11. With J.R. Redmond starting at halfback for the first time this season, New England made it clear early that running the ball would be priority No. 1. Eleven times they did, counting a Bledsoe and Michael Bishop sneak for first downs. Redmond ran hard, found gaps and was generally tough to bring down on the initial hit. Once New England got down to the Colts 19, it was a pass to Redmond in the right flat with the rookie doing the rest of the work for the score.  

But the Colts answered right back with a 51-yard bomb from Manning to Marvin Harrison. Harrison simply broke away from Otis Smith and that was all Manning needed, hitting the wideout in stride to tie the game at 7. The drive, 82 yards, six plays in 3:49.

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            That quick strike by the Colts did not deter the Patriots offensive game plan, however. Once again, they mounted and impressive drive – with a little help from the Colts Marcus Washington.  

On fourth and 4 from their own 44, the Patriots were forced to punt. But Washington shoved punter Lee Johnson after the kick and instead of going to work on defense, the Patriots were back in business on offense at the 49. A big third and 10 pass to Troy Brown for 21 yards kept things going. New England had to settle for a Vinatieri 27-yard field goal after Bishop was stopped on a third and 1 keeper from the Colts 9. The three points put the Patriots back up at 10-7. Drive stats, 71 yards, 14 plays in 7:12. The Patriots were running effectively.

After holding the Colts to 25 yards and a punt on Indy's next drive, the Patriots were at it again. This time they went 77 yards, 14 plays in 7:24, finishing with a Vinatieri 26-yard field goal to end the half with a 13-7 lead. But again, the Patriots were aided by Colt penalties. On third and 5, Jeff Burris was caught holding Terry Glenn and then on third and 5 again, David Macklin pushed off Tony Simmons down the right sideline. That call put the Patriots on the Colts 14 with a first down but New England was only able to convert the opportunity into three points.

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            That trend continued into the second half as the Patriots walked away with only three points after a 10-play, 73-yard drive eating up 5:28.  

The Colts looked like they might strike first in the second half as they had moved into New England territory and Edgerrin James was at the end of an impressive run. Lawyer Milloy popped the ball loose and Henry Thomas recovered for the turnover.

New England drove from their own 16 with a combination of pass and run, this time accentuating the pass a bit more with Rod Rutledge seeing two balls and Glenn and Brown the rest.

That 16-7 lead did not hold up long. On the Colts next drive, it took exactly one play for Manning to find Harrison for his second touchdown reception of the game. This one was a 78-yard play.

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