November 15, 2009.
Do you remember what you were doing that day? For some they may have been picking up some pumpkin pies from Costco or perhaps beginning the first of many bastings of that Thanksgiving turkey to try and impress the in-laws with. A preschooler may have been doodling her first hand turkey. A college student doing his last keg stand before fall break. Whatever you have been doing that day pales in comparison to what the Colts were doing that day. They were busy edging out the arch rival New England Patriots 35-34 by putting up 21 points in the fourth quarter. It was a thrilling game. The Colts trailed 31-14 after Randy Moss caught a 5-yard touchdown from Tom Brady barely a minute into the final quarter and seemed to salt the game away. But Peyton Manning and company turned on the jets and rallied, scoring 21 unanswered points and capping the rally off with a Manning to Reggie Wayne 1-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left in the game. It was one of the all-time great comebacks in an all-time great rivalry between two all-time great quarterbacks. It was also the last time the Colts would beat the Patriots.
From 2010 to the last time these two teams squared off in 2018, the New England Patriots have rattled off eight straight wins in the series. They dominate all-time series 52-29 and by the time Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium rolls around it’ll have been 4,416 days since the Colts last beat them. That’s a long time but it’s an eternity in football years. In that time we’ve seen Peyton Manning leave the Colts and win Super Bowls with the Broncos, the Colts have gone from Jim Caldwell to Chuck Pagano to Bruce Arians to Chuck Pagano to the Josh McDaniels fake out to Frank Reich at head coach. Andrew Luck’s playing career came and went, Philip Rivers came to town for a season and now we’re rolling with Carson Wentz. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski departed New England for the much more relaxed vibes of Tampa Bay. Both teams are completely different than they were in 2009. Well, except for one constant.
Bill Belichick will still be on the opposing sideline when the Colts and Patriots take the field Saturday night. He knows this rivalry well. He was a part of the Manning-Brady showdowns, the infamous fake punt game. He also remembers the Colts blowing the doors open with Deflategate and the never-ending parade of questions and suspicions that followed. That Bill, the one in the tattered four sizes to large hoodie, will do everything he can Saturday night to make a statement with his rookie quarterback Mac Jones and his surging 9-4 Patriots. He knows how much the Colts would love to end the losing streak on their home field, in front of a rare primetime audience (thanks again to that damn fake punt) and how much it means for keeping their playoff hopes alive in a crowded AFC.
The Colts will counter with the league’s leading rusher in Jonathan Taylor and a resurgent Carson Wentz who boasts 22 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. You better believe that Belichick is going to do everything in his power to minimize Taylor’s impact and put as much pressure on Wentz to rattle him and hope he reverts to the 2020 version of himself. The rivalry may be a bit one-sided right now but it hasn’t lost any meaning among fans. Colts fans hate everything related to New England. Chowder is lucky to even be served within the Indianapolis city limits. Patriots fans hear you’re from Indiana and a disdain comes over their faces as if you just asked who the Dropkick Murphys are. There’s no love lost, only hate that’s grown and it comes to a head on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium with tons on the line.
A win for the Patriots pushes them to 10-4 and in the driver’s seat for claiming home-field advantage in the playoffs. A win for the Colts and they knock off the hottest team in the league, snap the losing streak and gain significant ground in the playoff picture. A Colts loss means a 40-percent swing in playoff chances and even more pressure to win out or potentially see their playoff chances run out. The rivalry is alive and well and after a three-year hiatus, it will be on full display for the entire country on Saturday night.
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