INDIANAPOLIS — For the past 17 or so years, Bill Belichick's annual trips to Indianapolis have been … interesting, to say the least.
After taking over the reigns of the New England Patriots franchise in 2000 and taking just one season to turn the team into a consistent winner, it wouldn't take long for the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, the other primary AFC power of the past couple decades, to form a heated rivalry.
Seemingly each and every year from 2001 to 2014 it seemed as if the Patriots and the Colts would run into each other during critical times throughout the regular season, and especially in the postseason. Almost just as frequently the winner of that game would find itself in the Super Bowl.
Not surprisingly, many of those Colts-Patriots games became dogfights; instant classics.
The one forever etched in Colts fans' memories will, of course, be the infamous "4th and 2" game, on Nov. 15, 2009, when the Patriots jumped out to a 34-21 lead with 4:12 left in the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts, undefeated at the time, would use a Joseph Addai touchdown to bring the score to 34-28, and on the Patriots' ensuing possession, they faced a critical 4th and 2 from their own 28-yard line. Reluctant to immediately put the ball back in Peyton Manning's hands, Belichick called for a halfback pass to Kevin Faulk, but the Colts' Melvin Bullitt stopped him short of the first-down marker (yes, replay still confirms this).
Three plays later, Manning found Reggie Wayne for a one-yard touchdown pass, and Matt Stover added the extra point to secure a 35-34 comeback win for the good guys.
Prior to that game, whenever Belichick would come to Indianapolis — like for the league's annual NFL Scouting Combine each offseason — he, uh, wouldn't exactly feel the love. After that game — well, it's been a different story.
Belichick talked about those experiences this weekend during a brief appearance on the NFL Network's Combine coverage. Speaking to his former linebacker Willie McGinest, the two recalled how McGinest had made huge plays in back-to-back plays to secure wins against the Colts, but how they don't tend to bring those stories up while they're in the Circle City.
Belichick: "You know, Willie, one of my best memories is right here on this field, when you make a short-yardage stop down there against the Colts. And then the next year we open with them, and you made the sack that took Vanderjagt out of field goal range, and I think that's where Vrabel got them on the fake timeout, too. Then they changed the rule on that. But anyway, but you got the Colts back-to-back two years in a row: here, and in Foxboro."
McGinest: "Coach, you know when I talk about those Colts stories here, the service becomes a little bit slower, I don't get my room made up as fast. It's not a warm welcome. So I don't tell those stories when I'm here. Only when I'm away from here."
Belichick: "Yeah, trust me, Willie: when I came to Indianapolis, everything — they threw stuff at me, yelled at me, and everything else. Then when I went for it on 4th and (2) and we got stopped, ever since then it's been, 'Hey Coach! Good to see you! How's it going?'"
That story, of course, drew plenty of laughter from McGinest and the NFL Network's Mike Mayock and Rich Eisen.
And, yeah, it is pretty funny.
But what was that he said under his breath about a fake timeout?
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