Teams love to use the New England Patriots as a measuring stick for their success. Whether its Bills head coach Rex Ryan and his reasonable obsession with taking down the Patriots, or a conference rival trying to make a statement, teams don’t feel like true contenders until they’ve faced off against head coach Bill Belichick and have walked away with a competitive game.
Indianapolis Colts DE Robert Mathis agrees, and he took it a step further- he says that beating the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship Game was better than winning the Super Bowl itself.
Robert Mathis on 10th anniversary of SB XLI: It was our time. Followed our leader, Tony Dungy. Faith is a powerful thing. When you believe..— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) November 8, 2016
Mathis: For me, AFC Championship (over Pats) meant more than Super Bowl. Got us over the hump. Exorcised demon after demon.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) November 8, 2016
The Colts victory was one of the best comebacks of all time and it allowed Peyton Manning to elevate from “great regular season quarterback” to “one of the greats”.
Indianapolis mounted a comeback after falling behind 21-3 in the 2nd quarter. Colts K Adam Vinatieri knocked home a field goal in the last seconds of the first half to tighten the score to 21-6. The two teams exchanged blows until the Colts got the knockout touchdown with one minute left in the game.
The Colts went on to beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl, a team that featured a great defense and special teams unit, but an awful offense.
I’ve been using the Patriots as a barometer in the AFC this year. It’s why the Chiefs and Broncos make me more nervous than any team from the AFC North, and why I don’t think the Texans have a real shot. It’s also why I am hesitant about the Raiders; Oakland just used the Broncos as a big measuring stick, but divisional games are always competitive. I want to see the Patriots and the Raiders square off this year.
The Patriots will not play the Colts in 2016, unless the two teams meet in the postseason.