Some images are iconic enough to have a special power: you see them and immediately recognize them – and you recognize the story tied to what you see and the feelings attached to it. The NFL is full of such images. Dwight Clark extending to make "The Catch". Scott Norwood's kick sailing wide right. Malcolm Butler's game-clinching interception.
That image was created on March 28, 1984 when the franchise left its home town of 31 years to move to the city of Indianapolis at the behest of owner Robert Irsay. The Baltimore Colts were no more, they became the team we know today: the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts started their inaugural season in Indiana 4-7 before the team that also visits them tomorrow came to town: the 7-4 New England Patriots. The first of to date 52 meetings between the two former AFC East rivals took place in week 12 of the 1984 season – eight months after the Colts moved to the midwest – at Indianapolis' Hoosier Dome.
While New England would play a lot of close games in and against Indianapolis, the teams' first meeting on Indiana
soil astroturf was not one of them. The Patriots, who were six-point favorites entering the game, dominated from start to finish and in all three phases of the game.
The visitors started the game with a Tony Eason-to-Derrick Ramsey four-yard touchdown pass. The contest would never be this close again, as the Patriots earned another two points after strong safety Roland James stopped Colts running back Frank Middleton from getting the football out of his team's endzone. The result was a safety and a 9-0 New England lead. Before the first quarter was over, Eason and Ramsey connected for another touchdown.
Led by quarterback Art Schlichter, the Colts would finally get on the scoreboard in the second quarter. Schlichter's 13-yard rushing touchdown cut the Patriots' lead to nine points but another touchdown pass from second-year quarterback Tony Eason to Derrick Ramsey widened the gap again. After trading field goals, the teams headed into the locker rooms with New England up 26-10.
In the third quarter, Eason threw his fourth touchdown pass, this time to wideout Stanley Morgan. Never again in his career would the former Illinois quarterback throw for as many touchdowns in a game. By the time the Colts would score next, the Patriots, thanks to a 1-yard Mosi Tatupu touchdown run and a 40-yard Tony Franklin field goal, were already up 43-10.
After the a Schlichter-to-Bernard Henry touchdown made it a 43-17 game, Tatupu scored again from 20-yards out. Patriots 50, Colts 17.
New England played a near perfect game that day. Eason, in his second year, looked like the franchise quarterback he was supposed to be... and unfortunately would never become. Meanwhile, the defense dominated, sacking Schlichter seven times (Toby Williams recorded three sacks) and intercepting him once.
With the Patriots once again visiting Indianapolis tomorrow, Patriots fans can only hope that their team is able to dominate the same way it did on November 18, 1984.