EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 6, 2006

Turnovers sting Pats in showdown

FOXBORO - The Indianapolis Colts can play a little defense, too.

Or at least, just enough.

The Colt defenders, ridiculed for their 22 points allowed and 335.4 yards surrendered per game, took it right to the New England Patriots last night, forcing five turnovers in a 27-20 victory at Gillette Stadium.

Even when the best clutch kicker in the game - Adam Vinatieri - failed Indy with a potential game icer in the final two minutes, the resilient Colts responded like an unbeaten should.

Cato June pounced on a tipped Tom Brady toss that eluded Kevin Faulk for an interception to finish the Pats off for the second straight time on this field.

Brady, so good a week ago, threw four costly interceptions on the night, and New England's assumed advantage in the running game never materialized.

The result was the Colts' eighth straight win, against no losses, putting Indy in complete control of the AFC's No. 1 seed. It also shoves the AFC East-leading Pats - now 6-2 - into a four-way stalemate for No. 2 in the conference with Baltimore, Denver and San Diego.

The Colts, with Chicago's loss yesterday, remain the only unbeaten team left in the NFL. They also hold valuable tie-breaking wins over Denver and the Pats.

Amazingly in this matchup of the league's two most heralded quarterbacks, defense made the difference.

Indy made just enough halftime changes, holding the Pats out of the end zone with the bend-don't-break attitude - usually a Patriot trademark.

Rookie Steve Gostkowski made good on 2 of 3 field goal attempts, but Peyton Manning (20 of 36, 326 yards, 2 TDs) and Marvin Harrison (8 catches, 145 yards) hooked up from five yards out, a head-shaking, sideline juggling act/catch that pushed Indy's lead to 24-14 in the third.

It would be the only touchdown of the second half, and it was enough.

Still, the Pats went to the fourth quarter in the game, down 24-17, with the football on Indy's half of the field but couldn't convert.

Vinatieri and Gostkowski traded field goals, keeping the margin at seven.

But the one time New England needed a stop, with the Colts taking over at their own 39 with 5:53 left, the Pats did not step up.

Manning moved the chains once with a 10-yarder to Harrison and a second time with a 13-yard connection to Ben Utecht.

On the one third down of the march, the Pats finally stood strong and held Joseph Addai on third and five. But all that did was bring on Vinatieri, who missed.

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