The New England Patriots advanced to their 11th AFC Championship Game, and fourth straight, after defeating the Baltimore Ravens, 35-31, in an AFC Divisional Playoff last Saturday at Gillette Stadium. Patriots QB Tom Brady will play in his ninth AFC Championship Game in 13 full seasons as a starter.
The Patriots advance to the AFC Championship Game for the fourth straight season, joining Oakland (5 - 1973-77), Philadelphia (4 - 2001-04), Buffalo (4 - 1990-93) and Dallas (4 - 1970-73 and 1992-95) as the only teams to reach at least four straight conference championship games.
With the victory over Baltimore, Bill Belichick collected his 20th career playoff win, tying Tom Landry (20) for the most career postseason wins by a head coach. He advances to his ninth conference championship game, second only to the 10 by Tom Landry.
The Patriots will meet Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game for the third time. The Patriots beat the Colts, 24-14, in the 2003 AFC title game at Gillette Stadium and lost 38-34 in the 2006 AFC title game in Indianapolis. Last year in a divisional playoff, New England defeated Indianapolis, 43-22, to move on to the conference championship game.
TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4 in Boston. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Phil Simms as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Lance Barrow and directed by Mike Arnold.
NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Westwood One. Kevin Kugler and James Lofton will call the game with Tony Boselli providing sideline analysis.
LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis.
PATRIOTS IN THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Patriots are 7-3 in the AFC Championship Game, including a 4-1 record at home and a 3-1 mark at Gillette Stadium.
MOST APPEARANCES IN CONF. CHAMP GAME
San Francisco, 15
New England, 11
L.A./St. Louis Rams, 9
The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts will meet in the AFC Championship Game for the third time and in the postseason for the fifth time, including the second straight year in the playoffs.
Last season, the Patriots beat Indianapolis, 43-22, on Jan. 11, 2014, in the AFC Divisional Playoffs at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots own a 3-1 record overall against Indianapolis in the postseason, including a 3-0 record in playoff games played in New England.
The clubs have clashed in the playoffs following the 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2013 seasons. The Patriots beat the Colts in the 2003 AFC Championship Game, 24-14, at Gillette Stadium (1/18/04), won 20-3 at Gillette Stadium in a 2004 AFC Divisional game (1/16/05), lost in the 2006 AFC Championship Game, 38-34, at Indianapolis (1/21/07), and then won in the AFC Divisional meeting last year.
The Patriots traveled to Indianapolis on Nov. 16 of this season in a Sunday night game that ended in a 42-20 New England victory.
The two teams share a long-time rivalry, as the Patriots and the Baltimore/ Indianapolis Colts played twice each year from 1970 to 2001 as members of the AFC East, with the exception of the 1982 strike season.
Since realignment in 2002 with the Colts moving to the AFC South, the two teams played in the regular season in every season for 10 straight seasons from 2003 through 2012 with New England winning six of the 10 games. While they did not play in the 2013 regular season, breaking a streak of 10 regular-season meetings, they did face each other in the postseason with the Patriots claiming a 43-22 win at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 11, 2014.
Overall, this week's game will be the 79th meeting between the two teams. The Patriots lead the series with a 46-28 record in the regular season and a 3-1 record in the postseason.
New England holds an overall record of 28-12 when playing at home against the Colts, including a 7-2 record at Gillette Stadium.
SERIES BREAKDOWN (INCLUDES POSTSEASON)
Overall Record, 49-29
Home Record, 28-12
In Foxborough, 28-11
In Boston, 0-1
Away Record, 21-17
In Indianapolis, 15-9
In Baltimore, 6-8
Largest Victory, 39 points (10/06/74)
Largest Defeat, -31 points (11/26/72)
Longest Winning Streak, 7 (1996-99)
Longest Losing Streak, 3 (1970-71, 2005-07)
Seasonal Sweeps of 2 or more wins, Patriots 12, Colts 5
PATRIOTS - COLTS QUICK HITS
- The Patriots and Colts both surpassed the 1990s San Francisco 49ers for the all-time best mark for a decade in NFL history. New England had 126 wins in the decade from 2000-2009, while Indianapolis had 124 wins. San Francisco had 122 wins in the 1990s.
- Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is 13-6 against the Colts as the head coach of the Patriots and is 15-8 against Indianapolis as a head coach overall.
- In the last three games against the Indianapolis, the Patriots have outscored the Colts, 144-66, with a 59-24 win on Nov. 18, 2012, a 43-22 win on Jan. 11, 2014 in the AFC Divisional Playoffs and a 42-20 win on Nov. 16, 2014.
The New England Patriots take on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, November 16, 2014.
RECENT PATRIOTS-COLTS GAMES**
The Patriots have won 20 of the last 27 games between the clubs, dating back to the 1996 season.
Tom Brady's very first NFL start was against the Colts on Sept. 30, 2001, at Foxboro Stadium. He finished 13-of-23 for 168 yards in a 44-13 Patriots win. Brady owns a 9-3 record in the regular season against Indianapolis and 3-1 record in the postseason. He has thrown three touchdowns against the Colts in six of those games. He is 5-2 in the regular-season in home games and 3-0 at home in the postseason.
NEW ENGLAND TIES
- Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck was an honorable mention All-America selection by USA Today as a senior at Xaverian Brothers HS in Westwood, Mass. after completing 90-of-120 passes for 1,490 yards and seven touchdowns. He also earned three letters in basketball and two in baseball. Hasselbeck played collegiately at Boston College, where he played in 37 games with 21 starts, finishing fifth on the Eagles' career passing list with 4,548 yards. His father, Don, played tight end for the Patriots from 1977-83, while his younger brothers, Tim and Nathaniel, also played college football at Boston College. In 1992, Hasselbeck served as a ball boy for the Patriots.
- Colts CB Darius Butler attended the University of Connecticut from 2004-08, where he started all 45 games he appeared in, tallying 180 tackles, three forced fumbles, 10 interceptions, 26 passes defensed and two touchdowns.
- Colts OL Anthony Castonzo attended Boston College, where he set a school record with 54 career starts. He was a team captain as a senior in 2010, giving up only one sack and collecting first-team All-ACC and third-team All-America honors.
- Colts quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen served on the Holy Cross coaching staff in 1989 as the receivers/tight ends coach and in 1990 as the offensive coordinator.
- Colts defensive line coach Gary Emanuel began his coaching career as an assistant offensive line coach at Plymouth (N.H.) State University in 1981 before serving as the school's offensive coordinator/offensive line coach from 1982-84. Emanuel later coached linebackers at Massachusetts from 1986- 88 before serving as the defensive line coach at Dartmouth from 1988-91. Colts linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Connecticut in 1985.
- Colts offensive line coach Joe Gilbert served as the offensive line coach/ recruiting coordinator at Northeastern from 1991-93 before leaving for Maine, where he was the offensive line coach from 1994-95 and the offensive coordinator from 1996-99.
- Colts offensive quality control coach Frank Giufre coached the offensive line at Sacred Heart University from 2004-06 before serving as the run game coordinator/offensive line/tight ends coach at Maine from 2007-11.
- Colts strength and conditioning coach Roger Marandino began his coaching career as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Connecticut from 1993-95 before serving as the director of strength and conditioning at Brown from 1995-2011.
- Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich was a two-year letterman at Purdue, where he appeared in 23 games with five starts from 2004-05. He amassed 71 career tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one touchdown reception. Ninkovich earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 2005 after registering 48 tackles, eight sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
- Patriots DL Chris Jones attended Brownsburg (Ind.) HS, where he earned all-state honors as a senior in 2008 after recording seven sacks. He played collegiately at Bowling Green, where he appeared in 50 games with 43 consecutive starts, posting 157 tackles, 28 sacks, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Jones was a team captain in 2011 and 2012, was named to three straight All-MAC teams and earned MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2012 after finishing third in the nation with 12½ sacks.
- Patriots RB Jonas Gray was a four-year letterman at Notre Dame, where he appeared in 34 games with five starts from 2008-11. For his career, Gray rushed 189 times for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.
- Patriots linebackers coach Patrick Graham was a graduate assistant at Notre Dame from 2007-08.
- Colts K Adam Vinatieri began his NFL career with New England after signing as a free agent on June 28, 1996. He played 10 seasons with the Patriots from 1996-2005, appearing in all 16 games each season. Vinatieri was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2004, and he is the Patriots all-time leading scorer with 1,158 career points. He hit a last-minute game-winning field goal in the Patriots Super Bowl victories against the St. Louis Rams in 2002 and against the Carolina Panthers in 2004.
- Colts CB Darius Butler was originally drafted by New England in the second round (41st overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played in 29 games with eight starts from 2009-10, totaling 58 tackles, 14 passes defensed, one fumble recovery and three interceptions – one of which he returned 91 yards for a touchdown. Butler was waived by the Patriots on Sept. 7, 2011.
- Colts S Sergio Brown was originally signed by New England as a rookie free agent on April 29, 2010. He played in 26 games with three starts from 2010-11, totaling 48 tackles, one pass defensed, one interception and one fumble recovery before eventually being waived on Aug. 31, 2012.
- Patriots DE Chandler Jones (24) is the younger brother of Colts DL Arthur Jones (28). Both attended Union-Endicott (N.Y.) HS and played collegiately at Syracuse University. Their brother, Jon (27), is the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and is considered one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
FORMER NFL TEAMMATES**
- Patriots CB Darrelle Revis and Colts S Laron Landry were teammates in the secondary for the New York Jets in 2012.
- Patriots S Patrick Chung and Colts S Colt Anderson were teammates in the secondary for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013.
- Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was serving as the Philadelphia Eagles director of college scouting when the team signed Patriots CB Kyle Arrington as a rookie free agent on April 28, 2008 and Patriots WR Danny Amendola to the practice squad on Jan. 7, 2009.
- Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll was in his first year as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator in 2009, when Colts assistant special teams coach Brant Boyer got his first NFL coaching job as a training camp coaching intern with the club.
- Patriots RB Jonas Gray (practice squad) and Colts DL Arthur Jones were teammates on the Baltimore Ravens in 2013.
- Patriots LB Akeem Ayers and Colts LB Shaun Phillips played together on the Tennessee Titans in 2014.
FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES
- Patriots OL Cameron Fleming (2010-13) played for Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton at Stanford from 2011-12, when Hamilton was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the team. Colts TE Coby Fleener (2008-11) and QB Andrew Luck (2009-11) were also teammates of Fleming at Stanford.
- Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower and Colts RB Trent Richardson were teammates at Alabama from 2009-11.
- Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (2005-09), Colts DT Ricky Jean Francois (2006-08) and S Laron Landry (2003-06) were teammates at Louisiana State.
- Patriots TE Michael Hoomanawanui (2007-09), DB Tavon Wilson (2008-11) and Colts CB Vontae Davis (2006-08) were teammates at Illinois.
- Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich played his junior season at Purdue in 2004 under Colts defensive line coach Gary Emanuel, who was then serving as the school's assistant head coach/defensive ends.
- Patriots OL Sebastian Vollmer played his senior season in 2008 at Houston under Colts offensive line coach Joe Gilbert, who was then serving as the school's offensive line coach. Vollmer earned first-team All-Conference USA honors that season after starting all 13 games and allowing only one sack in 610 passing attempts.
- Patriots RB Brandon Bolden and Colts WR Donte Moncrief were offensive teammates at Mississippi in 2011.
- Patriots C Bryan Stork and Colts OLB Bjoern Werner were teammates at Florida State from 2010-12.
- Patriots LB Akeem Ayers and Colts CB Sheldon Price were defensive teammates at UCLA from 2009-10.
- Colts special teams coordinator Tom McMahon (special teams coordinator, 2009-11), Patriots WR Danny Amendola (2009-12), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (2010-11), offensive coordinator/quarterbacks Josh Mc- Daniels (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, 2011) and defensive assistant Brendan Daly (defensive line, 2009-11) formerly played or coached for the St. Louis Rams.
- Patriots DB Tavon Wilson played his senior season in 2011 at Illinois under Colts secondary coach Mike Gillhamer, who was then serving as the school's secondary coach.
- Patriots FB James Develin spent his entire four-year college career (2006-09) at Brown under the guidance of Colts strength and conditioning coach Roger Marandino, who was the school's director of strength and conditioning from 1995-2011.
- Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was a graduate assistant at Syracuse from 2001-03, when Colts running backs coach David Walker was serving as the running backs coach for the Orange.
- Patriots linebackers coach Patrick Graham was a graduate assistant at Notre Dame from 2007-08, during the sophomore and junior seasons of Colts S Sergio Brown's collegiate career. In 2008, Patriots RB Jonas Gray also joined the Fighting Irish as a freshman tailback.
PATRIOTS AT HOME IN THE PLAYOFFS
The Patriots are 16-4 (.800) at home in the playoffs in their history. Nineteen of the franchise's 20 home playoff games have taken place since Robert Kraft purchased the team 21 years ago. After Kraft bought the team, the Patriots won 11 consecutive home playoff games before experiencing a home loss.
ALL-TIME POSTSEASON WINS BY AN OWNER
Robert Kraft has 22 career postseason wins, tied for the fourth-most in NFL history.
33, The Rooney Family, Pittsburgh (1933-present)
31, Green Bay Packers (1919-present)
24, The Mara Family, N.Y. Giants (1925-present)
22, Robert Kraft, New England (1994-present)
22 Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., San Francisco (1977-1999)
21, Al Davis, Oakland/Los Angeles (1972-2011)