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Sunday, January 18, 2004

New England 24, Indianapolis 14

Talk about a weird way to get 24 points - TD-FG-FG-S-FG-FG-FG.

It doesn't sit well that despite the Pats being in full command of this game for nearly its entire duration, and were +4 in takeaways, it was still a one-posession game for most of the final ten minutes, or that they kept having to settle for field goals against one of the weaker defenses the NFL has to offer, but they've been winning ugly/dramatic all year long and it's not like they are running into anyone who has been winning pretty all season. Heck, the Colts have been well-nigh unstoppable this postseason until now. (Furthermore, Carolina's average margin of victory is even lower than that of the Pats.)

On the upside, Antowain Smith had a good game with a couple of great runs; unfortunately, if he was reliable enough to get the short yards when they needed them, the game would have been effectively over long before it was. Ty Law and the secondary were nothing short of brilliant, holding Marvin Harrison and the rest of the wideout corps in check; and the O-line did a fantastic job of containing Dwight Freeney and the rest of the Colts' pass rush. With two exceptions (one INT and one that Troy Brown saved from being an INT), Brady was clutch as usual.

On the downside, the offense couldn't put the game away when it should have, settling for field goal after field goal. Edgerrin James was pretty effective running up the middle. Perhaps worst of all, Tedy Bruschi walked gingerly off the field late in the game.

The goal line stand in the November game probably was the deciding factor - I'd bet good money Manning doesn't get picked off 4 times in the RCA Dome, and if Manning doesn't do that, he and the Colts most likely get to go to Houston instead.

But one can't really complain, particularly in this age of extreme parity, about two Super Bowl appearances in three seasons, especially since at least one of them brings the Lombardi Trophy to New England, whatever happens next. It's been a heck of a season.


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