18to88.com readers share their most memorable moments from the Colts/Pats rivalry
I have several indelible memories of great games between the Colts and Patriots. My first is watching Harbaugh lead the Colts to 10 second half points to win the final game of the regular season in 1995 to send the Colts to the playoffs. I also remember a painful loss in 1999. Indy jumped out to a huge lead, but Marcus Pollard fumbled twice in the fourth quarter to give the game back to New England. I remember every one of the Brady/Manning games like 2003 when I called a despondent Demond who said simply, “They won’t let him be great!” before hanging up the phone. He was referring to the his feeling that the team let Manning down that day. My two favorite memories will always be Demond calling me at halftime of the AFC Championship game and asking me if he should leave. I told him he had to stay for the first possession of the second half. There was no point in talking any more that night because every time I called, it was too loud to hear him. Finally, when Marlin Jackson picked off Brady, my wife and I hugged and cried. I was in Argentina, but that night I felt like I was home.
My favorite memory comes from, what else, the 2006 Colts – Patriots AFC championship game. Coming into the game, I knew it was our year. Our defense had stepped up and stuffed Larry Johnson and the Chiefs two games before and then they stepped up again the next game, holding the Raven to only field goals. When the Patriots knocked off the Chargers to go to the AFC Championship, it just felt as though it was destiny for our Colts that year. We had a chance to go to the Super Bowl, and to go through our arch-rivals, the Patriots, who had stopped us for so long.
We all know how the first half went. Me being a very “vocal” (or annoying as my family would say) Colts supporter, I was banished to the basement TV for the second half. There, I witnessed what will probably go down in history as the most amazing playoff come back ever. Our defense started stepping up and our offense finally got the ball rolling. Still even with only minutes left we were still losing. When we finally took the lead with a minute and change remaining, I finally allowed myself the hope that we would pull it off. And when Jackson picked off Tom Brady to seal the deal and send us to Tampa, I burst into tears of joy.
I have a copy of that game at home and I still watch it every Colts bye week, simply because it was the most amazing game possible. Being down by 18 points and coming back to win against the evil Patriots couldn’t have been better, and it was made that much sweeter when we took out the Bears two weeks later
–Bob in Indy
This would actually fall into the least favorite memories, but I remember it vividly. I guess you could say this was the day the “Who is better, Manning or Brady?” discussion began. It was 2001. Manning was beginning his fourth season in the league. I was stationed in Hawaii, and the Colts/Pats rivalry hadn’t yet begun, notwithstanding whatever grudges the teams held onto in the old AFC East. The Colts weren’t quite what they are today as far as ratings and viewership goes, so I was forced to go to a sports bar to watch the game. At this time the Colts bandwagon was much smaller than it is today, plus I was in Hawaii (stationed there, Army), so I was the only Colts fan in this establishment. There were around five Pats fans there that day. I remember sitting down for that game thinking that we were going to skull drag the Patriots and Drew Bledsoe. I remember Brady coming in for an injured Bledsoe and thinking we would win for sure. I don’t remember exactly how the game went down, except that we were the team getting skull drug that day. Brady went on to quarterback them to a SB win that year, then two more later, and the NFL hasn’t been the same since.
–Ian in North Carolina
2006 AFC title game… Addai bursting up the middle for the winning touchdown. Obvious, of course. But I watched that game at home by myself, because I was too nervous to be around people. (Or perhaps if I am really honest, too fearful to be in public if the unthinkable happened… and the Colts lost again.) So the exaltation I felt at that moment was all the more intense… because it was mine, and mine all alone. (But you better believe I did go out and celebrate thereafter.)
Making it even more special, is that this is also my favorite Marvin Harrison moment. Although we did not know it at the time, it was Marvin that had implored in the huddle, “We have to run the effing ball!” And as Peyton noted, “Marvin never said that!”
My favourite Colts/Pats memory is one that I’m sure will be shared by many, many of your readers – the 2006 AFC Championship Game. I’m from the UK, and that year I was studying in Illinois as part of a study-abroad programme. It was there that discovered the magnificent sport of American Football, and in particular, the Indianapolis Colts. When I arrived in the States, I decided that I wanted to get more involved in American culture, and I and a friend decided we should pick an American Football team to support (we’re both keen ‘soccer’ fans). I picked mine purely at random, closing my eyes and pointing randomly at a list. “Indianapolis…” I said, as I looked at my selection, “Where the Hell is that?”
I decided to watch the Sunday night opener against the Giants, and from the first snap of the ball I was hooked. The way the offense ran – high tempo, smart, with Peyton Manning pointing out blitzes before the defenders knew they were supposed to run them – this was what I wanted to see. I grew to become a die-hard fan in just a few short weeks – I remember the Jets game, screaming as Martine Gramtica tackled a coverage team player off of the returner; the Jags game, pounding my head against the wall as MJD and Fred the Shred waltzed through our defensive line – I also remember the first Houston game, during which my friend turned to me and said, “They’re never going to beat him, are they?” “Not when it means something.” I responded. I watched every single regular season game, and became adept at sprinting home from church just as the second quarter was beginning, and then sprinting down to the residence dining hall just as it closed at halftime. I was delighted when we made the playoffs, a delight that soon turned to horror as I realised that I was leaving to go back to the UK for Christmas, and wouldn’t be back until the 15th of January.
I did the only sensible thing – I stayed up until five o’clock in the morning on the Sunday of Wild Card Weekend and the Divisional Round, hitting refresh on the Gamecast every two seconds. There’s nothing quite like watching football statistics. It’s really nothing like watching actual football. To keep me occupied, I watched late-night movies – watching Rambo: First Blood during the Baltimore game was a particular highlight. I was delighted at the end – I got to watch the Colts live at least once more that season, and Sylvester Stallone pulled off a grown-man crying scene.
This is all a long-winded way of talking about that AFC Championship game. The NFC game was first, and being in Illinois, the lounge was full of Bears fans, rooting against the popular Saints. I was too nervous about the upcoming game to really get into it, but I duly celebrated as the Bears pulled out the win, and then, realising I had about twenty minutes before the Colts game, I sprinted downstairs, and wolfed down the meatloaf the cafeteria was serving – this proved to be a mistake. I returned to the lounge, and put on the Colts jersey a friend from Miami had leant me (it was an Edge one). I took a seat, and watched as the Patriots proceeded to open up the engine and jump out to a 21-3 lead. This, plus indigestion from the meatloaf, was starting to make me feel ill. We went into the half 21-6 down, and I felt pretty low. The rabid Pats fan next to me, who awkwardly happened to be a close friend, wasn’t making it any easier.
But, of course, the score didn’t stay that way, and the Colts went on to win. The strongest memory I have is of seeing the Patriots line up, 3 or 4 wide, late in the game. One of the receivers (Reche Caldwell, I think) was uncovered, and was gesturing frantically to Brady. In the lounge, we were on our feet, my heart was in my mouth. The score was tied, and this was a crucial third down. If they converted, they would be in the red zone, with a great chance of a touchdown, or at least the ability to burn more time off the clock. Brady seemed to notice the mismatch, and as his head flicked back and the ball was snapped, I turned away. The ball was in the air, heading for Caldwell, and there was no way they weren’t going to convert and get a whole lot more. Suddenly there was a roar in the room. “HE DROPPED IT!” My friend yelled. “HE FREAKING DROPPED IT!” I spun back, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could have made that catch, and the closest I’ve ever been to a football field is watching Remember the Titans. It was at that point that I knew we had won. Game Over, because a play like that, to be so close to winning on one play and screwing it up… that’ll kill you every time. The fact that we had the best player in the game trotting on from the sideline – well that was just a bonus.
We’ve finally managed to get satellite TV here so I can watch the occasional Colts game. The Pats game starts at 1pm, and I have work in the morning (I’m a schoolteacher), so a Patriots-supporting friend (I do seem to collect them, don’t I) and I are going to go to bed at eight thirty, and then he’s coming over at 1 to watch it. My wife thinks I’m an idiot. I prefer the word passionate.
Sandy in Edinburgh
My most vivid is probably the most obvious. The AFC Championship Game that the Colts won over the Pats. What makes it memorable for me is that I had to be in Seattle for a conference. So my wife and I are up in our hotel room watching the game. We had a dinner meeting with a very important partner scheduled for right after the game. The first half obviously wasn’t going well and we are almost hiding our eyes behind the pillows. But all the way out in Seattle we could feel it as soon as the 2nd half started that the Colts had a chance. We were getting pretty loud as the game went along and when we scored that go ahead touchdown we screamed so loud I suspect they heard us four floors up and four floors down. We had to calm ourselves to watch the final Pats drive and when Jackson caught that pick we screamed even louder and were literally jumping around our hotel room on the bed, on the chairs, and screaming out the windows. I’m very surprised that no one called to complain. We were already late for our meeting but stuck around to watch as much of the post game activity as possible. We left the room hollering up and down the hallways, through the lobby and out onto the street. When the cab picked us up we were still giddy and by the time we joined our meeting 30 minutes late they were fortunately already through a bottle of wine so our obnoxious giddiness went over much better than it would have otherwise. I never slept that night. I was up all night combing the internet and reading about reactions and such. What a night! My heart still races a little bit when I think about even now.
The Super Bowl win was great (we were on vacation in Colorado for that) but that AFC Championship game will ALWAYS be my greatest Colts memory.
The moment when Marlin Jackson intercepted Brady at the end of the ’06 Championship game and just slid down and all the guys jumped him in celebration. I was actually thinking of this play this morning when I realized that due to his two ACL injuries, he might not ever make it back. It made me sad, but I’m so happy he gave us that memory. Whew, what a great play!
From Wikipedia: Washington’s most memorable performance was in the September 18 Monday Night Football game between the Colts and the Patriots, which featured a record 41 points scored between the two teams in the fourth quarter, 27 by the Colts. Washington scored or helped score his teams’ final three touchdowns. His catch of a touchdown pass tied the game at 20-20, and then he threw an option pass to Roger Carr to put the Colts ahead 27-20. After the Patriots tied it late, Washington returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for the winning touchdown.
Personally, I was in 8th grade and staying up well past midnight to watch this game. Pretty sure my father and brother had gone to sleep. The dog too. But the game had everything–rain to start with. Back and forth, up and down, just a super-human effort by Washington and, of course, the good guys won in the end. I believe Washington scored in four different ways–running, passing, receiving, and returning a kick–and IIRC, that was the first time anyone had scored in those ways in one game ever or in a damn long time. The next day in school, as the sole Colts fan in Jets/Giants land, I was congratulated as if I had won the damn thing.
(Outlawing tear-away jerseys ruined his career, IMO. He was shifty and tacklers could not get to his body so dragging him down by the old tear-away jerseys just didn’t work; he’d go through three a game.)
Well, this isn’t likely to be unique, but it’s the one that sticks like a knife in my mind. The game of which I speak needs no introduction. Manning has just thrown a pick six, the Colts are down by 18, and I’m despondent. Another great year shattered by the Evil Empire. My Facebook records will show that at half-time, I posted a status update: “The Colts season is over”. I don’t like to admit it, but quit on my team when they’re losing. It’s self-preservation, and it’s a habit I first picked up watching Hoosier games when I was a kid. I just can’t bear to see the other team win, to feel the bitter taste of defeat, so I switch off.
And then, the second half started, and it was incredible. Suddenly they’re back in the game. A recovered fumble here, a fullback touchdown there, and suddenly they’re at the goal line and they’re about to go up by with. And yet, we have been here before. We all knew how this story would end. A heartbreaking goal-line stand, just like we saw in those hellish games at Foxboro. We were all bracing for the other shoe to drop.
And then Addai is walking into the end-zone, and my roommates and I are hugging and dancing and celebrating, and all those years of heartbreak are washed away in one transcendent moment of joy. And then #28 grabs a terrible throw by Brady and it’s done. The Colts win. The Colts win. The Colts win.
Two weeks later I got so drunk I don’t remember anything past Prince.
–Ben in Unionsville
(ed. note: Rex Grossman had a similar experience that night)
Marlin Jackson intercepting Brady then falling to his back and pointing in the air to ice the AFC Championship. Best game ever…pure bliss.
Even though they were AFC East foes at the time, there was no rivalry between the Colts and Patriots back in 2000 before ‘Manning vs Brady’ became an annual event. This game was their second meeting of the season & ended up being the last time the Colts lined up across from Drew Bledsoe in a Pats jersey. In fact, the legend of Tom Brady was born the following September when Brady started his first NFL game against the Colts.
This ‘Manning vs Bledsoe’ game was a pretty good one. After trailing the entire day, the Colts stormed back with 16 unanswered 4th Quarter points to win 30-23. On the day, Peyton went 16 for 20 for 268 yards & 3 TD’s for his first-ever perfect QB Rating of 158.3.
But, for me, the most memorable part of the day actually occurred in Chicago.
I was living in the Windy City at the time & my fraternity brother Brad “Queef” Schaffer was in town for a week-long medical conference so we decided to road-trip to Indy on gameday. I’m a Hoosier boy & he grew up in Sudbury, Mass so we had a natural rivalry between us. Queef was staying at the downtown Westin so I swung by to pick him up at dawn & discovered that this was the day of the Chicago Marathon. I’ve never seen so many physically fit people in one place & it was very intimidating. Being built like a 5-foot-10 version of Tarik Glenn & wearing a baseball-type jersey with “C-O-L-T-S” across my chest, the marathoners & their equally fit friends & families looked at me as if my spaceship had just landed. Naturally, Queef had partied late into the night so my call from the lobby phone only served as his initial wake-up call. Waiting for Brad, I spent an awkward 15 minutes in the lobby as the runners walked past thinking “I hope this guy is in the wrong place or else he’s gonna have a heart attack today.” And while those runners tortured themselves for 26 miles later that day, I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast of doughnuts & beer while tailgating in the shadow of the RCA Dome as my Pats-loving buddy Queef took some good-natured ribbing from our fellow tailgaters.
(With such an embarrassing nickname, you might think I would refrain from mentioning “Queef” or using his real name…but he’s a Pats fan, so screw him.)
–Scott in Indy
2001: I was living in NYC with my family at the time and getting ready to move back to Indiana. A few days before the game I was buying a car for the move and my brother calls me to ask how much he should pay for a ticket to the game. I’m thinking he’s talking scalped and I say that it’s worth up to $1,000 for a ticket to what could be a life-changing game. Apparently though he was being offered a ticket at face-value, from a family friend – easy call. He ended up getting a seat about 30-some rows back in the corner of the dome. To be specific, when Peyton took us on the game-winning drive, he was behind and to the left of the offense. Anyways, I end up watching the game at home by myself b/c I’m too nervous to be around anyone else. My family had been out for dinner and when they came back the score was 21-3 and was almost resigned to a typical Colts-Pats defeat. I explained to my dad what had happened and said that unless we get some points on this last drive, it’s going to be near impossible.
So we all know what happened from there on out but the part of my story that I love to re-tell starts right after we took the lead at the end. My brother and I had been texting back and forth all day. I’m updating him on injuries and other stuff the announcers tell us. He’s telling me what’s going in the stadium and the overall atmosphere. After we score, he sends me a text saying something like “I’m still nervous. That’s more than enough time for Brady to score again”. Not sure where I got my confidence from, but I responded simply with “take a picture when we win”. A few minutes later he’s sending me a picture of Jackson intercepting Brady although all you can really see pieces of the field in between tons of outstretched arms in the air.
I’ve since gotten a new phone but I’m pretty sure I still have the picture around somewhere on a computer or something. Ever since that game, whenever we get nervous about games, that’s the response (when appropriate). When the Giants took the lead against the Pats in ’07, I was the worried one and he said the same thing (no, I didn’t send a picture of my tv).
From a different perspective, if you will.
I can’t find a picture of it……..and the NFL owns the telecast rights, obviously, so I’ll never find a video of it either. But EVERY SINGLE PATRIOT FAN ALIVE knows the exact moment of which I speak. Some say the Patriots’ season turned when linebacker Bryan Cox put a bone-rattling hit on Colts wide receiver Jerome Pathon in Week 3. Indy played scared the rest of the day.”
Yea they did. They laid down, especially Marvin, and we beat them 44-13 en route to the First of Three Glorious Days. But the best part about that hit was this:
It was a third and short play…….and the referees had to bring the chains out to measure. A young, geeky, dorky, goofy Peyton Manning stood over the 1st down stick and complained about the spot as #51 waved in his face mouthing the words ‘Bye………..bye……..get off the F**KIN field.’I can still hear whatever deadbeat announcer was assigned to cover that game (Certainly not Simms and Nance) in my head saying ‘Well veterans like Bryan Cox certainly aren’t afraid of this Colts team.’
We rode Jerome Pathon’s broken ribs to an 11-5 record (KILLED Indy twice), a bye, and the life changing event known as Super Bowl 36 that led to a 4 month stint in uptown New Orleans for JC that seems like it could have been last week. A 21 year old kid in the craziest city in the world (Sorry, Amersterdam) watching the team that I had grown up listening to on an AM radio in my dad’s den because they didn’t sell out for over a third of my life.
That Bryan Cox hit changed my life and gave Tom Brady his.
Hands down favorite… the whole second half of the 2006 AFC Championship. I’ve never experienced such an emotional roller coaster. I was watching the game with some friends who were bandwagon Pats fans. Through the first half, I wasn’t sure who was taking a bigger beating – me or the Colts. I thought about calling it a night at half time – but I called my brother who sounded disappointed as he told me that you never ever leave a Colts game before it is over. With Manning as your QB, you haven’t ever actually lost until the clock hits zero. … so I just upped my trash talk. When Marlin intercepted Brady, I can’t even explain my reaction – as if my body had been possessed by a rocket I left the couch and hit the ceiling. In the process, I stuck my hand in the ceiling fan, pinched a nerve, and couldn’t feel my pinky for weeks. Totally worth it. Probably one of the best nights of my life. They should have handed out the Lombardi trophy right there.
OF course, Melvin “the new” Bullitt taking on Faulk on 4th and 2 last night is right there with it. Certainly one of the biggest plays of his young career. I hope he is wearing blue for a long, long time
If you have a favorite memory from a Colts/Pats game, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll post it.