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A Warren report on Patriots-Colts

New England DE reviews the rivalry

Defensive end Ty Warren was a rookie in 2003, but he remembers hearing all about the Patriots and Colts.

"There was something there before I got here, and that has kind of led to what we have now," he said.

At the time, Warren was hearing chatter of how coach Bill Belichick and his former defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel, had gotten the better of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Another story line was how Manning's personal house of horrors was in Foxborough.

Warren since has experienced the Patriots-Colts rivalry six times, and Sunday's meeting between the teams in the AFC Championship game will add a seventh chapter to what arguably has become the AFC's top annual battle.

"It's probably the battle amongst all battles, just because of the way the series has gone," Warren said. "Right now, the series is in their favor. Of course, we have to do what have to do -- to turn it back in our favor and try to get the win."

Part of what has made Patriots-Colts a special matchup in recent years are the high stakes and electric environment in which the games have been played.

Call it a Tour with Ty, as we recap the rivalry as viewed through Warren's helmet.

Nov. 30, 2003

The Site: RCA Dome.

The Setup: Patriots enter 9-2 on a seven-game winning streak; Colts are also 9-2.

The Summary: Trailing by 4 points, the Colts drive to the 1-yard line with 14 seconds left and face a fourth down. Outside linebacker Willie McGinest stops running back Edgerrin James for a 1-yard loss, as he's seemingly tipped off by Manning tapping his buttocks, a signal for a run play.

The Final: Patriots 38, Colts 34.

Warren's View: "I just remember it being a hard-fought game, kind of equivalent to the Steelers game [in 2005], in the sense that it went all the way to the end. I think that score could have went either way, if Peyton had run it in or completed a pass. I do remember that game being a momentum game going into the playoffs, and the games leading into that."

Jan. 19, 2004

The Site: Gillette Stadium.

The Setup: AFC Championship game; Patriots enter with a 15-2 record; the Colts are 14-4.

The Summary: In a game played in occasional snow, the Patriots jump to a 15-0 halftime lead, but the Colts cut it to 7 and have the ball at their 20 with 2:01 remaining. The Patriots defense, which forces four turnovers and sacks Manning four times, ultimately closes it out.

The Final: Patriots 24, Colts 14.

Warren's View: "I think that was pretty much the same song, one of those Colts games where the ball ended up in their hands in the latter part of the game. Jarvis [Green] getting those big sacks for us, it was a big effort, and Ty Law and Rodney [Harrison] with some big interceptions. There were a lot of key plays in the game, turnovers in that victory. As a rookie, when you realize you're going to the Super Bowl, that's a feeling I still can't explain, four years later."

Sept. 9, 2004

The Site: Gillette Stadium.

The Setup: NFL opener on Thursday night.

The Summary: In a back-and-forth thriller, the Colts open leads of 10-3 and 17-10 before the Patriots charge back. Two second-half fumbles by James, including one at the Patriots' goal line, are crucial. The Colts still have a chance to tie with 24 seconds left, but Mike Vanderjagt's 48-yard field goal attempt is no good. Vanderjagt had made 42 attempts in a row before the kick.

The Final: Patriots 27, Colts 24.

Warren's View: "Again, the same thing, a game that went all the way to the end. The field goal could have tied it, but it was one of those that I really felt whoever had the ball at the end of the game was going to win."

Jan. 16, 2005

The Site: Gillette Stadium.

The Setup: AFC playoffs; Patriots enter at 14-2, the Colts at 13-4.

The Summary: Another playoff game against the Colts, and more snow falling. Domination by the Patriots, who recover two fumbles, intercept Manning once, and ring up 210 rushing yards to win the time-of-possession battle, 37:43 to 22:17. The Patriots advance to the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row, this time at Heinz Field against the Steelers.

The Final: Patriots 20, Colts 3.

Warren's View: "It was one of those games where we kind of had things clicking on all cylinders -- special teams, defense, offense. It was an all-around well-executed game. It was one of those games that even though you know you're capable of playing, it's still kind of surprising because they're still dangerous and can score pretty much on any down, at any time."

Nov. 7, 2005

The Site: Gillette Stadium.

The Setup: "Monday Night Football." Patriots enter at 4-3, the Colts at 7-0.

The Summary: Manning enters the game with an 0-7 record in Foxborough but carves up a shorthanded Patriots defense that is without defensive lineman Richard Seymour. The Colts open a 28-7 lead early in the third quarter and don't look back, as James (104) and receivers Marvin Harrison (128) and Reggie Wayne (124) all total more than 100 yards.

The Final: Colts 40, Patriots 21.

Warren's View: "I'm sure that with Peyton pulling it off, it made them feel as if they had gotten over a hump on those Peyton vs. Brady/Belichick story lines. I'm sure that gave them more confidence."

Nov. 5, 2006

The Site: Gillette Stadium.

The Setup: "Sunday Night Football." Patriots enter at 6-1, Colts at 7-0.

The Summary: The two top teams in the AFC clash once again as the Colts are bolstered by the return of sparkplug safety Bob Sanders and become the first team to start consecutive seasons 8-0 since Green Bay in the 1920s. The Patriots commit five turnovers, and Manning finishes with 326 yards passing and Harrison with eight catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots never lead.

The Final: Colts 27, Patriots 20.

Warren's View: "If you look at the past couple of games they've been successful against us, look at third down. That had us on the field for longer drives. Part of the reason for that is that we were losing the battle on first and second downs, allowing them to have third-and-shorts. You can't do that with Peyton, and I think that's been at the root of the problem."

Mike Reiss can be reached at mreiss@globe.com.

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