EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 12, 2014

Patriots versus Colts is a Hall of Fame rivalry

Pats-Colts rivalry could continue as a marque match-up minus Manning


Or the most criticized call of Pats Coach Bill Belichick’s head coaching career in 2009, when he gambled that his team — with a six-point lead in the closing minute — could pick up two yards on a fourth down situation from the Pats’ own 28 instead of punting the ball. The Pats failed to get the first down, giving the Colts great field position on New England’s 29-yard line. Manning threw a one-yard touchdown with 13 second left in the game. Matt Stover kicked the point for the victory.

How fortunate the sports fans of New England and Indianapolis were to witness such an era of greatness — the clash of Titan teams that were clearly the best and perennial favorites by the experts in preseason football power rankings or the odd makers in Las Vegas. What a run it was for both teams, until 2011 when Manning sat out the entire season after neck surgery. New England made it back to the Super Bowl that season, while Manning would never take another snap as the Indianapolis signal caller.

After a 2-14 season, the Colts took a chance by drafting Andrew Luck to become Manning’s successor. And Luck has had tremendous success in his first two years, leading Indy to consecutive 11-5 seasons with playoff appearances. Last season, he broke several major record for rookie quarterbacks in league history, including most passing yards, wins and game-winning drives.

Luck showed his potential to become the NFL’s next great quarterback in the playoff game that earned the Colts last night’s match-up with Brady and the Pats. Down by 28 points to the Kansas City Chiefs, Luck threw four touchdowns and scored another on a fumble recovery for a 45-44 win — the second largest comeback in NFL playoff history. After two seasons, he’s also tied with Denver Broncos quarterback legend John Elway has having the most wins (14) in his first 20 games.

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