Finally, the Colts play the Patriots in the comforts of home
INDIANAPOLIS – Trends are often judged, rightly so, by two letters: W and L.
That’s certainly how it’s been in the Colts-Patriots rivalry where victories have meant not only pride but home field playoff advantage and even a Super Bowl berth.
Overall New England has the 45-28 edge over Indianapolis in the series but they hold perhaps a more important 12-6 edge since 2000. That’s when men named Belichick, Brady and Manning turned a divisional contest into an iconic professional football match-up.
But there’s another unusual trend that’s developed as well-most done by design but others by football fate. That’s home field advantage.
From their AFC Championship match-up in early 2004 through November of 2006, the Colts traveled to Gillette Stadium for five straight games against the Patriots. Then from the AFC Championship game in early 2007 through 2009, the teams played four consecutive meetings in the series in Indianapolis-two at the RCA Dome and two at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Since then, the Colts have met the Patriots the last four times in Foxborough which includes three regular season games and a playoff contest last January. All of those have been won by New England against Manning, Dan Orlovsky and twice Andrew Luck.
Finally almost five years to the day in which they last met in Indianapolis, the Colts will get the chance to host the Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night at 8:30 P.M.
“Yeah it is, man. For a change, we can expect and know what the weather’s going to be,” said receiver Reggie Wayne of facing the Patriots at home. “It’s weird, but it seems like we always play there. I’m kind of used to it, but it’s always exciting to play this team at home because you know exactly what our 12th man is going to bring to the table.”
Another sellout crowd is expected to attend on a snowy night in Indianapolis and the crowd is hoping to see a game like the last one between the rivals in Indianapolis. On November 15, 2009 the Colts rallied from a 31-14 deficit to beat the Patriots on a touchdown pass from Manning to Wayne in the final minute.
Most people don’t remember that play as much as the one that set it up-the infamous “4th-and-2” call by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. With the Colts offense moving at will and his team just two yards away from a game-clinching first down, Belichick decided to opt for the try on fourth down.
Brady hit Kevin Faulk with the short pass but Melvin Bullitt stopped him just short of the marker which set up the game-winning score and a dramatic 35-34 win to push the Colts to 9-0 in an eventual AFC Championship season.
“I think everybody in this locker room is excited, I’m sure they’re excited,” said Wayne-who led the Colts with ten receptions for 126 yards and two scores in that game. “It should be somewhat of a playoff atmosphere, so this will be a good test run for us.”
More than that if the Colts have aspirations to get a bye in the 2014 NFL Playoffs. Right now the Colts are a game behind the Patriots and the Broncos for the top two seeds in the AFC and a win would keep them right in the hunt as the final stretch of the season approaches.
As expected, the Colts have dismissed the thought of this Patriots game having any more significance to standings than others remaining on their schedule. One thing they won’t deny is their success at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Pagano era-a 17-4 overall record since 2012 including a 3-1 mark this season.
Oh, and the Colts have won the three of the last four games played against the Patriots in Indianapolis.
“I think anytime you get to play at home and play in front of your fans and all that stuff, probably the energy and the excitement level goes up some,” said Pagano of playing at home. “Obviously we’d like to have them all at home. This team prepares and grinds and works to get ready to play wherever you’ve got to play, but it’s sure nice playing at home.”
It’s a trend they don’t mind seeing go their way.