'WE WERE GOING FOR THE WIN'Another classic Colts versus Patriots game late Sunday afternoon came down to the end of the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
And while Indianapolis fell, 31-28, and trailed by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter, the team stayed in the contest with the-never-say-die attitude that has brought the team back so many times.
"It certainly felt like (we could come back)," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said on Colts Radio. "I am just sick about not extending the game. It's just no excuse not to give Adam Vinatieri a chance for a field goal. We were going for the win, had some time, had some timeouts and felt like we had a good play called."
Manning completed 38-of-52 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions, but the attempt for a 45th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime fell just short.
"Our guys hung in there and played well in spurts, but just didn't quite get over the hump," Head Coach Jim Caldwell said on Colts Radio. "They hung in there, they fought and the second half was a lot different than the first half."
Manning led the Colts to four touchdowns in four red zone drives. This season, the Colts offense has scored on 35-of-36 red zone trips, including 24 touchdowns. The final two scores came on five-and 18-yard fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rookie receiver Blair White.
White, who entered the game in the second quarter for Austin Collie, caught five passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
"Blair had a lot of big plays, laid out and caught the ball, blocked well and he had a good day," Caldwell said.
White's five-yard touchdown reception with 7:57 remaining in the fourth quarter brought the Colts to within 10, 31-21. His 18-yard score with 4:46 left, a diving catch in the end zone, brought the Colts to within three points, 31-28.
"We would have liked to have been on top or be able to do what we did at the end of the game throughout the game, but that wasn't the case," White said on Colts Radio. "We had a chance to win and it is a tough way to lose, but it's a team effort and I have to get better. We have to get better."
DEFENSE STIFFENS IN SECOND HALF
After surrendering three Patriots touchdowns and allowing New England to convert six-of-six third downs in the first half, Indianapolis' defense rose to the occasion in the third and fourth quarters.
The Colts' defense conceded only one third-down conversion on five second-half attempts and allowed only a field goal in the fourth quarter.
"We got them off of the field and I think that was big," Caldwell said. "Therefore, we gave our offense the opportunity to get the ball with some pretty good field position, too."
At the most crucial times, with Indianapolis trailing 31-14 and 31-21, the defense stood tall and forced New England to punt. The Patriots ran just seven offensive plays in that span, allowing Manning and the offense to narrow the gap to three points.
-Manning and Reggie Wayne connected for their 65th career touchdown pass, placing them in a tie with Jim Kelly and Andre Reed for the fourth-most touchdowns by a quarterback-wide receiver duo.
-Manning (22) surpassed Dan Marino (21) for second-most games with four or more touchdown passes. Manning stands one game behind Brett Farve (23) for the NFL record.
-Manning (63) surpassed Marino (62) for the second-most three-plus touchdown games in NFL history.
-With 396 passing yards, Manning (61) moved one game shy of Farve (62) and two games behind Marino (63) for most 300-plus yard passing games in NFL history.
-Manning became the first NFL quarterback to throw for 20-plus touchdowns and 3,000-plus yards in the first 13 seasons of a career.
-Wayne recorded his 33rd career 100-plus-yard receiving game.
-Tight End Gijon Robinson recorded his first career touchdown catch. He became the 35th player to catch a touchdown pass from Manning.
-Rookie linebacker Pat Angerer led the Colts with 12 tackles.
-Dwight Freeney recorded his 91st career sack.