After pulling ahead for a comfortable 17-point lead in the 4th quarter, the Patriots allowed the Colts to get to within a field goal, and gave them the ball with 2:33 left in the game. Peyton Manning began to do what he had done for the entire 4th quarter- march his team right down the field. However, this time, a pass rush that was non-existent all game showed up and forced a bad throw that was picked off by James Sanders, sealing the 31-28 win. Sanders has picked off his second consecutive game-sealing pass, after picking off Ben Roethlisberger last week and now Manning this week. The defense picked off Manning three times, including one by Brandon Meriweather on the Colts opening drive which lead to Tom Brady-to-Wes Welker touchdown.
Peyton Manning threw for more yards and more touchdowns than Tom Brady, but he also threw more interceptions, which helped Brady get the ‘W.’ Brady was 19/25 for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, and was sacked only once. Manning was 38/52 for 396 yards, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
The running game was soundly in the Patriots’ favor, with the team amassing 168 yards on 34 carries (4.9 ypc). BenJarvus Green-Ellis did most of the hard running, running for 96 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown while Danny Woodhead had the big play of the day. Woody had a 36-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter. In total, Woody ran for 69 yards on 7 carries and had 4 catches for 21 yards. The Colts weren’t able to do much against the Patriots’ run defense, totaling 71 yards on 20 carries (3.6 ypc). Donald Brown had a big 36-yard run that pushed up the Colts’ yardage total.
The defense, which had played spotty throughout the game, completely collapsed in the 4th quarter until Sanders made the interception. The pass rush didn’t get a single sack on Peyton Manning after sacking Big Ben 5 times last week. Part of the problem was poor tackling, as they let Manning slip out of their grasp a few times, as well as the other Colts skill players. The positive to take out the game defensively is that they were able to make plays when it counted and were able to snag some turnovers. Meriweather, Sanders, and Devin McCourty each had an interception, which was key to the Patriots’ winning the game.
With this win, the Patriots move to 8-2 and are tied for the best record in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets. Tom Brady tied Brett Favre today for the most consecutive home wins in NFL history with 25. He’ll have a chance to break that record December 6 against the New York Jets, a game which would also help propel the Pats to first in the AFC East. First, they have to get past the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, a game which will not be easy on a short week.