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