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Postgame, Week 9: New England 24 @ Indianapolis 20

Undeniably 'The Best'
Patriots Make History .. Again

This time, it was the Patriots mounting the amazing comeback. Down by 10 with 9:35 left in the game, having just allowed a 1-yard plunge by the opposing quarterback, New England went to the Bread and Butter. That would be Tom Brady and Randy Moss.

Brady is the staple that sustains this team.

Moss? Man, Moss is butter.

Brady went to Moss on six straight plays to start the penultimate scoring drive. Incomplete, 15 yards, incomplete, 55 yards, incomplete, incomplete. Sure, four of the six are incomplete passes, but two of them accounted for 70 yards.

Throwing those six passes, Brady set up the Colts defense like Willie Mosconi set up a pocket billiards table.

P1hotobucket - Video and Image Hosting 24 - - - P1hotobucket - Video and Image Hosting 20

With the Colts now focused on Moss, Brady hit Wes Welker over the middle for 10 and then at the front left pylon for the touchdown.

After the defense stymied another Indianapolis drive, Tom Brady once again showed why he's simply the best and why when the biggest games are on the line, he's the guy you want leading the troops.

Cool as sniper Brady connected with Moss over the middle for 5 yards. Like sharks, the Colts were chummed to cover Moss, and Brady went deep, this time to Donté Stallworth reeled in the perfect pass to set up Brady to Kevin Faulk over the middle for Brady's 25th career game-winning drive.

There now have been only six games in NFL history pitting undefeated teams with 5 or more wins. The Patriots have won two of them this year, including the only matchup of undefeated teams with at least 7 wins each.

Despite the offense's late-game "heroics," make no mistake, the defense won this game.

Sealing the Deal Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green (97) strip-sacked Peyton
Manning (18). Linebacker Rosevelt Colvin (59) was in the right place at the right time,
and the loose ball landed right in his hand, effectively sealing the Patriots win in Indy.

Photo courtesy: Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis

The game got off to an inauspicious start with utterly poor officiating call on an 11-yard pass from Manning to Aaron Moorehead. Moorehead was clearly out of bounds, but the two officials looking down the sideline looking directly at the play missed it. That incomprehensible call forced the Patriots to use one of their two alloted challenges in the first two and a half minutes of the game.

Indy marched down the field, partly courtesy of a questionable neutral zone infraction penalty called on New England with the Colts facing a 3rd-and-2, partly on a questionable non-call on a Dallas Clark offensive pass interference.

Just outside the red zone, the Patriots defense stiffened. Richard Seymour made two big plays, first tackling Kenton Keith for a 5-yard loss, then getting a finger or two on Adam Vinatieri's 50-yard field goal attempt, deflecting it wide left. It was Vinatieri's first career miss at the RCA Dome.

An offensive line breakdown led to a New England 3-and-out and put the ball back in Peyton Manning's hands with hardly a breath's break for the D.

The Colts offense worked quickly, this time aided by another questionable pass interference call against Asante Samuel that gave the Colts a free 37 yards.

But once again, with the Colts suddenly on the 9 yard line, the Patriots defense solidified. Indy drove on one play to the 3, but went no further, and this time Vinatieri was able to connect on the field goal attempt to give the Colts a 3-0 lead.

Lucky to Give Up Only 6?

The offense got some things going, but the Colts came back again. On the first play from scrimmage, Rodney Harrison was flagged on another questionable illegal contact call, after which Manning was complaining to the officials. Worse, Indy got another free 40 yards on what was clearly offensive pass interference on Reggie Wayne. Ellis Hobbs was almost certainly going to intercept the pass, but Wayne dragged him down from behind. Somehow, Hobbs was the one penalized, putting the Colts on New England's 6.

He Might Be A Giant Patriots receiver Randy Moss
played on another plane. Despite having Colts
cornerback Tim Jennings hanging off his shoulder,
Moss put New England on the board early in the
second quarter.

Photo courtesy: Boston Globe / AP Photo

But once again, the defense dug in and the Colts went no further -- for the third time on each of their first three drives -- and settled for another Vinatieri field goal.

Despite all the adversity, the Patriots defense showed incredible resilience. Earlier in the season, while allowing very few trips to the red zone, New England was batting zero. Opponents scored on every red-zone trip, and the Patriots ranked last (technically) in the league.

Not so Sunday. Two of the Colts first three penalty-aided possessions moved inside the Patriots 10 and one stalled 3 yards outside the red zone. Yet the Patriots defense remained stalwart, and Indy came away with just 6 points.

The Colts penetrated the red zone just once more, Manning scoring on a sneak (kind of appropriate), accounting for New England's 0.333 red zone defense percentage.

Colts Offense Impotent

Outside of Joseph Addai, the sensational second-year Colts running back, the Patriots all but shut down the Indy offense.

Manning had another pedestrian day, completing less than 60 percent of his passes for only 225 yards -- 73 of those on a dump-off pass to Addai where the running back did all the work. Addai's touchdowns, combined with those two dubious pass interference calls (77 yards), accounted for 2 fewer yards than the rest of Manning's performance.

Clark, the tight end expected to shoulder a large portion of the receiving load with perennial Pro Bowl receiver Marvin Harrison sitting out due to injury, had just 2 receptions for 15 yards. Reggie Wayne, expected to be the go-to guy in Harrison's absence had just 5 receptions.

Addai was the Colts offense. He killed the Patriots on the ground, and he was Manning's best target through the air. In addition to the amazing touchdown run, Addai had 4 more receptions for 41 additional yards.

Addai became the first Colts player to accumulate at least 100 yards running (112 yards on 26 carries) and 100 yards receiving (114).

Reaching for His Goals Patriots running back Kevin Faulk stretched the ball
across the goal line, giving New England a 24-20 lead and completing a 10-point 4th-
quarter comeback in the only matchup ever of undefeated teams with at least 7 wins.

Photo courtesy: Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis

Early Offensive Struggles for Patriots

Meanwhile, the Patriots offense struggled in the first half. Discounting a kneel-down with 5 seconds left in the half, New England had just three offensive possessions in the first two quarters, and the first of those was a 3-and-out.

The Patriots relied on Laurence Maroney's play-action draws for the first part of the second drive. Four of the first five plays went to the second-year back, and he picked up 24 yards and a first down. He finished the game with 59 yards on 15 carries and a respectable 3.9 yards per carry.

New England generally kept it on the ground most of the drive, going to Heath Evans and Faulk to move down to the Colts 10. After a Ben Watson completion down the 4, Faulk was tackled on a pass route -- another completely blown call -- but it ultimately didn't matter as Brady threw a jump ball to Moss for a near-automatic touchdown.

The Patriots were driving late in the half, but a Matt Light "leg whip" penalty (actually tripping) set them back and Brady threw a deep jump ball to Stallworth, but this one was picked off by Antoine Bethea.

Despite the few possessions, the Patriots trailed in time of possession by less than a minute at halftime.

The second half started little different. Back to back 3-and-outs were trailed by a 34-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal and another Brady interception, an excellent play by Gary Brackett.

Helmet-to-Helmet Talk about dirty. Randy Moss made a
spectacular catch and was rewarded with one of many no-calls.
Colts fans call Bob Sanders a hero. Watch the video (2:35 in).

Photo courtesy:

The drive for the field goal was marked by an absolutely godlike catch by Moss on the first play from scrimmage. With the Patriots starting from their own 9, Brady dropped to the 2 and fired a missile over the middle, which Moss one-handed high in the air at the 23.

Fortunately, the defense had kept the Patriots in the game.

With the Game on the Line

Then came crunch time. Brady Time.

In the first competitive game the Patriots have played in this season, it became Bread and Butter Time.

Moss's legitimate 55-yard superhuman catch negated one of the Colts phantom pass interference gains. Moss was speared helmet-to-helmet by Bob Sanders on the play, but there was no flag.

There was a flag -- on Moss -- on the next play. Moss had position in the end zone and had a Colts defender climbing up his back. Somehow it was called offensive pass interference, but again it ultimately didn't matter. Brady hit Welker and the Patriots made history. Again.

Moss led New England with 9 catches for 145 yards, and Welker had 5 for 38; but Welker's larger contribution may have been his put returns, including an exciting 23-yard return to the Patriots 49 that set up the winning touchdown.

Records Continue to Fall

The Patriots continue to rewrite the record book and accomplish firsts of all kinds (some notes courtesy of The Globe's Mike Reiss.

  • Brady continues to demolish the record for consecutive 3-plus passing touchdown games to start a season, previously 5 (Steve Young), now 9, and he's done it against some of the league's top-ranked overall defenses and passing defenses
  • Likewise, he broke the record for consecutive 3-plus passing touchdown games at any point in the season, previously 8 by Manning in 2004
  • Brady broke Vito "Babe" Parilli's single-season franchise touchdown record of 31 with his 31st, 32nd and 33rd scoring strikes
  • Moss tied the Patriots single-season franchise record for touchdown receptions (12) co-owned by Stanley Morgan (1979).
  • The game was the highest-rated Sunday afternoon regular-season game since 1987, which is as far back as record have been maintained
Brady finished with a passer rating of 95.2, ending his streak of games with 100-plus passer ratings at 8. His rating Sunday was damaged by a pair of interceptions, the first of which ended a career-best-tying streak of 175 passes without an interception.

Brady remains on pace to throw just under 59 touchdown passes on the season.

The Patriots streak of scoring on their first offensive possession also ended at 8.

Air Moss Did Jordan ever get that high? The only
thing I think of when I see this is the end of the
first Ghost Busters movie: "Ray, when someone
asks you if you're a god, you say, 'YES!'"

Photo courtesy: Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis