Final

Patriots 38

(10-2, 5-2 away)

Colts 34

(9-3, 4-2 home)

1:00 PM ET, November 30, 2003

 

1 2 3 4 T
NE 10 14 7 738
IND 0 10 14 1034

Indy stopped four times inside the 1

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Willie McGinest refused to let a bad knee slow him down Sunday.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Patriots: Are you starting to sense that this is another magical year for the Pats?
This team is absolutely phenomenal in pressure situations. They truly play as a team, and that contributes to tough, close victories like these. The Patriots are definitely starting to regain the swagger they had in their championship season, and that makes them extremely dangerous down the stretch run.

Question on the Colts: Were you surprised with the play calling at the goal line on the final series?
My biggest surprise was that the Colts didn't block the blitzing linebacker on fourth down, which enabled Edgerrin James to be tackled in the backfield. But the play call I disagree with the most was actually the series before when the Colts decided to kick a field goal despite needing a touchdown to take the lead. They should've went for it and tried to get the ball back if they failed.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

With 14 seconds left and the Colts 1 yard away from completing another fourth-quarter rally, McGinest got around the right side of the offensive line and caught Edgerrin James in the backfield to preserve New England's 38-34 win.

The Patriots won their eighth straight game, the longest streak in the NFL, and improved to 10-2 for the first time in franchise history. McGinest's game-saving tackle typified the Patriots' charmed season.

"When it came down to it for the gusto, our guys came with it on the goal line," said McGinest, who saved the game just two plays after limping off with a knee injury. "That's how you want to win it."

Indianapolis (9-3) dropped out of first place in the AFC South, at least momentarily, for the first time this year. Tennessee plays the New York Jets on Monday night.

As for the Patriots, each week they seem to find another player to fill in, and another way to win.

"I was thinking, 'It's looking pretty bleak," linebacker Ted Johnson said of the final drive. "But are you guys surprised? With this team?"

While Tom Brady played well Sunday, it was kick returner Bethel Johnson who turned the game and McGinest, the once feared Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker, who secured it despite the knee injury.

"I wasn't going to sit on the sideline," McGinest said.

Even before Peyton Manning tapped his rear end, telling McGinest it was a run instead of a pass, the Colts were in trouble.

Tight end Dallas Clark left early in the second quarter with a fractured right fibula. Fullback Detron Smith left in the first half with a right knee injury and running back James Mungro, Indianapolis' short-yardage runner, was out with a foot injury.

That forced the Colts to go with something other than their power-package, and it didn't work.

James ran for 1 yard on first down from the 2, then went nowhere on second down. Manning tried to connect with rookie Aaron Moorehead on third down, but Moorehead got tied up on the line of scrimmage.

Manning called timeout to set up the final play and when he got to the sideline, he realized the predicament.

"We didn't have the goal-line offense," Manning said. "Everybody was in street clothes over there."

The Colts tried to run anyway and McGinest blew it up.

All Manning could do was slap the field in disgust.

The rest of the game was just as wild.

New England pulled to a 31-10 lead behind the solid play of Brady, who finished 26-of-35 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, the strong running of Michael Cloud, who scored twice, and Johnson's kickoff returns.

But Manning valiantly rallied the Colts from a 21-point deficit for the second time this season.

He converted Brady's first interception into a 13-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne.

Three plays later, Brady was picked off again. On the next play, Manning threw a 26-yard strike to Marvin Harrison to make it 31-24 with 14 seconds left in the third quarter.

On the Colts' next series, Manning tied the score with a 6-yard TD pass to Troy Walters. It was the Colts' third touchdown in less than six minutes. Manning was 29-of-48 for 278 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

"We knew that wasn't enough," McGinest said of the 21-point lead. "We knew we had a long way to go."

Johnson made up some of the ground quickly.

After ending the first half with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the longest by a Patriot since Nov. 15, 1999, Johnson broke free again in the fourth quarter, going 67 yards to the Colts 31.

Four plays later, Brady found Deion Branch wide open in the back of the end zone to make it 38-31 with 8:36 left.

Again Manning rallied the Colts back.

They gambled with 3:27 to go by kicking a 29-yard field goal to make it 38-34, hoping Manning would get one more chance to win it.

New England obliged. Brady, surprisingly, threw on each of the next four plays, taking just 30 seconds off the clock. And when Ken Walter's punt went just 18 yards, the Colts had a chance.

But with time running out and the Colts facing fourth down at the New England 1, McGinest almost single-handedly snuffed out the rally.

"It was a pretty good goal-line stand," coach Bill Belichick said. "I'll put it up there, with the game being on the line."

Game notes


Manning and Harrison have now hooked up on 66 TD passes, the third most in NFL history after passing Jim Kelly and Andre Reed (65). ... New England has won 23 straight games when leading entering the fourth quarter. ... Manning made his 92nd straight start Sunday, tying John Unitas' franchise record for most consecutive starts by a quarterback. ... Clark expects to have surgery on his fractured fibula.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
New England
Indianapolis
1st Downs2126
3rd down efficiency
6-115-16
4th down efficiency
0-02-3
Total Yards282370
Yards per play4.74.7
Total Drives23
Passing226272
Comp-Att
26-3529-48
Yards per pass
6.55.7
Interceptions thrown
21
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-102-6
Rushing5698
Rushing Attempts
2329
Yards per rush
2.43.4
Penalties6-524-31
Turnovers32
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
21
Possession27:5932:01

Passing Leaders

NEC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brady26/352366.7222-10
INDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Manning29/482785.8412-6

Rushing Leaders

NECARYDSAVGTDLG
Faulk15422.8010
Pass294.507
INDCARYDSAVGTDLG
James25883.5020
Rhodes294.509

Receiving Leaders

NERECYDSAVGTDLG
Branch66410.7114
Ward25025.0131
INDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Harrison78812.6126
Walters55611.2115

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNEIND
FG5:56ADAM VINATIERI 43 YD
Drive: 11 plays, 50 yds, 5:56
30
TD12:28MICHAEL CLOUD 4 YD RUN (ADAM VINATIERI KICK)
Drive: 6 plays, 36 yds, 2:32
100
SECOND QUARTERNEIND
TD3:06DEDRIC WARD 31 YD PASS FROM TOM BRADY (ADAM VINATIERI KICK)
Drive: 9 plays, 73 yds, 4:03
170
FG7:56MIKE VANDERJAGT 40 YD
Drive: 10 plays, 53 yds, 4:50
173
TD14:48MARCUS POLLARD 8 YD PASS FROM PEYTON MANNING (MIKE VANDERJAGT KICK)
Drive: 11 plays, 86 yds, 3:20
1710
TD15:00BETHEL JOHNSON 92 YD KICKOFF RETURN (ADAM VINATIERI KICK) 2410
THIRD QUARTERNEIND
TD7:24MICHAEL CLOUD 1 YD RUN (ADAM VINATIERI KICK)
Drive: 11 plays, 61 yds, 5:33
3110
TD13:40REGGIE WAYNE 13 YD PASS FROM PEYTON MANNING (MIKE VANDERJAGT KICK)
Drive: 9 plays, 44 yds, 4:04
3117
TD14:46MARVIN HARRISON 26 YD PASS FROM PEYTON MANNING (MIKE VANDERJAGT KICK)
Drive: 1 plays, 26 yds, :06
3124
FOURTH QUARTERNEIND
TD4:39TROY WALTERS 6 YD PASS FROM PEYTON MANNING (MIKE VANDERJAGT KICK)
Drive: 9 plays, 69 yds, 3:47
3131
TD6:24DEION BRANCH 13 YD PASS FROM TOM BRADY (ADAM VINATIERI KICK)
Drive: 4 plays, 31 yds, 1:45
3831
FG11:33MIKE VANDERJAGT 29 YD
Drive: 4 plays, 0 yds, :18
3834