]()It looked like this one might turn into the shootout many predicted when both teams quickly racked up two touchdowns each in the first half. But as the game progressed, turnovers, penalties and three missed field goals -- one by Stephen Gostkowski and two, yes, two, by Adam Vinatieri -- kept both teams from establishing any type of momentum.
Peyton Manning (20 of 36 passing for 326 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) found his main targets Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne early and often. Harrison, in particular was a handful for the Patriots defense with 8 catches for 145 yards and 2 scores.
On the Patriots side of the ball, Tom Brady had a rough night with four interceptions and only 201 yards on 20 of 35 passing. Laurence Maroney ran well but not enough. His 63 yards on 13 carries came in spurts.
In the end, while the game was close, it was not the well-played affair expected from two of the elite teams in the NFL.
New England shook off an early Reche Caldwell offensive pass interference call and a second and 21 situation to drive well into Indy territory on the first drive of the game. The Patriots ground game was rolling but on first and 10 from the Colts 34, Brady looked long down the left sideline to Doug Gabriel and threw into heavy coverage. Antoine Bethea came up with the interception and ran the ball out of the end zone to the 32 where the Colts began their first drive of the game.
That drive looked in jeopardy when Manning threw two straight incompletes and Tarik Glenn was flagged for a false start. On third and 15, Manning scrambled away from Richard Seymour and looked downfield, connecting with Marvin Harrison for a 44 yard completion to the Patriots 29. That play sparked a 9-play, 68 yard touchdown drive capped by a 5-yard pass to Harrison that made him the all-time career Colt touchdown leader.
During the drive, Rodney Harrison was hurt (arm) on the Harrison catch and did not return.
Brady and the offense bounced back. On third and 20 from the New England 22, Brady this time connected with Gabriel for 39 yards. The play was set up by one of the worst taunting calls ever made by a referee. Troy Brown had just caught a 6 yard pass on first down. After falling out of bounds with the ball, he flipped the it back in the direction of the sideline judge. Apparently, the judge thought Brown was tossing it in the direction of the Colts Rocky Boman and threw his flag. Besides pointing out the bad call, Brown's catch is worth mentioning since it tied him with Stanley Morgan as the Patriots all-time leader in receptions.
Back to live action on the Colts 39, New England again pounded the ball with Dillon and Laurence Maroney down to the Colts 19. Faced with a fourth and 3, the Patriots went for it and Kevin Faulk came up big with a quick slant over the middle for 14 yards. Two Dillon runs, a 5-yarder and a 1-yard touchdown, tied the score at 7.
It didn't stay that way long. Manning was 4 for 4 on his next drive with Reggie Wayne feasting on Patriots coverage. He was good for catches of 18, 16 and a 33-yarder down to the Patriots 2. From there, Joseph Addai ran it in up the middle and Indy had its touchdown lead back with 9:56 left in the first half.
The fireworks continued with the Patriots tying the game right up. After a 21-yard completion to Caldwell started the drive, New England took to the ground with Maroney. He ran five straight times to the Colts 20. On third and 4 from there, Brown broke Morgan's reception record, notching his 533rd career catch. Four plays later it was Dillon again, from 4 yards out for the score.
New England's coverage team didn't do any favors by allowing a 70-yard return to Terrence Wilkins on the ensuing kickoff. That gave the Colts first and 10 at the Patriots 29. A pass interference call on Chad Scott moved the ball to the 9-yard line. After Addai was stopped for a 1-yard loss, Junior Seau broke into the backfield for a 9-yard sack of Manning. That set up a third and goal from the 17 but Asante Samuel was called for an illegal contact to change the scenario to first and 10 from the 12. Manning hooked up with Wayne for 7 yards as the two-minute warning with Indy second and 3 from the 5.
Manning looked to Wayne twice more but came up empty and Vinatieri was good on a 23-yard field goal to make the score 17-14 with 1:46 remaining.
The Patriots had one last shot before the half. At around the minute mark, Brady was faced with a fourth and 1 that his sideline decided to try for. He ran a keeper and was lost in the pile-up in the middle of the field with the refs giving him the spot and the first down. The Colts challenged but the ruling on the field stood.
Despite the play, Brady's second interception of the game, this one to Bob Sanders on a ball intended for Ben Watson, ended the first half.
Manning opened the second half with a 36 yard completion to Harrison down to the Patriots 33. The Colts sputtered from there and on came Vinatieri for a 37-yard attempt which he missed wide right to the delight of Patriots fans in attendance.
Any benefit from holding the Colts off the scoreboard on that drive was negated when Dillon fumbled on the very next play from scrimmage. Raheem Brock picked up the loose ball and ran it into the end zone while Patriots looked on, thinking the play was over. New England challenged the play believing at the very least, Brock was down by contact where he recovered the fumble when Matt Light fell on him. That's the way the ref saw it after the review as well.
The result was Indy getting the ball right back, first and 10 from the 31. Once again, however, the Patriots defense came up big with Rosevelt Colvin registering a 9-yard sack on second and 10 and Manning throwing incomplete on third forcing the first punt from either team in the game.
The Colts got the ball back after the Patriots were forced into their first punt after four plays and this time Manning got back on track. Two big plays, a 29-yard pass to Harrison and a 35-yarder to Dallas Clark as Manning rolled to the right, brought up first and goal at the 5. Two plays later, Harrison made a beautiful grab on a 4-yard touchdown, just keeping his toes in bounds, to give Indy a 24-14 lead with 6:56 left in the third quarter.
New England got three points back on a 49-yard field goal by Gostkowski. Despite a pass interference call on the Colts Marlin Jackson that gave New England first and 10 at the Colts 31, Brady went incomplete on three straight passes to bring on the attempt.
Terrence Wilkins fumbled the return that followed on a play forced and recovered by Artrell Hawkins. What should have been a big break for New England ended in a missed 36-yard field goal attempt by Gostkowski with the game late in the third quarter.
The Colts were on the verge of opening their lead up and in Patriots territory after starting the drive on their own 26. But a 7-yard sack by Colvin and Mike Vrabel brought up a second and 17 from the New England 30. Manning then looked to his right and threw right into the arms of Chad Scott who returned it to the Patriots 46 where Brady took over first and 10.
Once again, New England could not take advantage of the turnover. After an incomplete on first down, Brady had his ball tipped by Robert Mathis and Cato June came up with the pick. It was Brady's third interception of the game and it gave the Colts their 10-point lead back at 27-17 as the drive ended with a Vinatieri 31-yard field goal.
Brady and the offense got back on track and drove from their 39 to the Colts 8 but failed come up with six. Maroney had a nice 17-yard run along the way but the most the Patriots could make out of the drive was a 26-yard field goal by Gostkowski to pull back within a touchdown with 6:01 left to play.
The three points seemed to be hardly enough as Manning brought his troops right back into scoring position with a 10-yard pass to Harrison and another 13 yards to Ben Utecht on his following series. At the two-minute warning, Vinatieri lined up to make it a two score game with a 46-yard field goal attempt. Incredibly, the ex-Patriot who had lined up so many times before at this stadium missed for the second time in the game.
New England had a last chance to tie the game and send it into overtime but it was not to be. After a 25-yard completion to Watson to get things rolling, Brady looked over the middle to Faulk. The ball deflected off Faulk's fingers and into June's hands for his second interception and Brady's fourth in the game.
The loss drops the Patriots to 6-2 on the season while the Colts remain undefeated at 8-0.