Pats Don't Let Colts Get to Them
New England Rallies in Fourth Quarter to Improve to 9-0: Patriots 24, Colts 20
Monday, November 5, 2007; Page E01
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 4 -- There were no dizzying offensive exploits and no chances to run up the score this time for the New England Patriots. But they still managed to show that they, not the Indianapolis Colts, are the team to beat in the NFL. The Patriots made the big plays when it mattered and remained unbeaten by overcoming a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter Sunday to leave the RCA Dome with a 24-20 triumph over the defending Super Bowl champions.
"We haven't had a game like this all year," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "Having a game like this, it's nice knowing that we still remember how to win it."
It took plenty of grit for the Patriots to improve to 9-0 and hand the Colts their first loss. The Colts led 20-10 after Peyton Manning's touchdown on a one-yard sneak with 9 minutes 42 seconds to play.
But the Patriots didn't wilt in what had been billed as the biggest regular season game in NFL history. Quarterback Tom Brady threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker, set up by a 55-yard connection to fellow wide receiver Randy Moss, with 7:59 remaining, then found backup tailback Kevin Faulk for a 13-yard touchdown with 3:15 to go. The Patriots pressured Manning into a turnover, with defensive end Jarvis Green knocking the ball free on a sack and linebacker Rosevelt Colvin grabbing the fumble out of the air. They then ran out the clock to beat the Colts for the first time in the teams' last four meetings.
"That's the only way you can beat the Colts," Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. "You have to play a full 60 minutes. You can't play only part of the game against them. They're too good."
The Patriots now have a bye week and will return from it poised to chase history, trying to match the undefeated season of the 1972 Miami Dolphins. They had to show their championship mettle Sunday after winning each of their first eight games this season by at least 17 points.
"It feels good," defensive end Richard Seymour said. "It really does. That was probably one of the most satisfying wins since I've been here."
But the Patriots weren't getting too carried away.
"We're 9-0, and it really doesn't matter," Brady said. "None of it matters. What matters is January. . . . I'm as happy as anybody, but it doesn't mean anything. Our goal was not to be 9-0."
Brady threw two interceptions, matching his total from the first eight games of the season, but also passed for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Moss had nine catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.
Tailback Joseph Addai ran for 112 yards for the Colts (7-1), and turned a short pass from Manning into a 73-yard touchdown in the final seconds of the first half. But the Colts couldn't hang on.
"You want to feel like you can close people out in the fourth quarter," Colts Coach Tony Dungy said, "and we didn't do it."