Over the last decade, the Patriots-Colts rivalry has been one of the best in football. Most matchups were competitive until the very end largely because of the elite quarterback matchup between Tom Brady (right) and Peyton Manning, who moved onto Denver prior to the 2012 season. And now the impressive Andrew Luck (left) — one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL –has taken the reigns in Indianapolis.
The two rivals will face off Sunday for the 16th time since 2003 and for the 79th time in the history of the franchises, and a trip to Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona will be on the line.
The Patriots and Colts clashed in 10 straight regular seasons (2003-12), met again in Indianapolis in Week 11 this year, and also faced each other in the playoffs following the 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2013 seasons.
Let’s check out some of the highlights from the most recent meetings between the two teams.
Nov. 16, 2014: Patriots 42, Colts 20
In a game that was billed as a battle against two of the league’s elite quarterbacks, it was an unheralded third-string running back that stole the prime time show. Jonas Gray — previously known for his prowess on the Patriots practice squad — put himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated after running for a franchise record four touchdowns to go along with 201 yards in the Patriots 42-20 thumping of the Colts at Lucas Oil Field.
The Patriots rushed for 246 yards in game while the Colts could only muster 19 on the ground. While Gray provided the scoring punch, Tom Brady — who started shaky — finished 19-for-30 for 257 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Andrew Luck would turn in a 23-for-39 performance good for 303 yards along with two touchdowns and one pick.
Jan. 11, 2014 — AFC Divisional Playoff: Patriots 43, Colts 22
Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount had a record day with four touchdown runs and 166 yards as the Patriots crushed the Colts, 43-22, in the AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium sending New England to their third straight AFC Championship game.
Blount’s fourth touchdown was a 73-yard run. His four touchdowns set a Patriots record for rushing touchdowns in a game and his 166 yards tied a Patriots playoff record — along with Curtis Martin — for yards in a game. The Patriots rushed for six touchdowns in all, a team record for any game, regular season or playoffs.
Nov. 18, 2012: Patriots 59, Colts 24
After a decade with Peyton Manning behind center, the Colts had a fresh face at quarterback for this one in No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck. But Luck’s first visit to Foxborough was a rough one, as the Patriots put on a convincing show after falling behind, 14-7, in the first quarter.
Tom Brady went 24 of 35 for 331 yards and three touchdowns while Luck only connected on 27 of 50 and was intercepted three times.
Dec. 4, 2011: Patriots 31, Colts 24
The Patriots won this contest, which featured a Colts team with Manning sidelined with a neck injury, but not before Indianapolis battled back from a 31-3 deficit in the fourth quarter. Overall the Colts were no match for Brady’s 289 yards and breakout tight end Rob Gronkowski (pictured) and his three touchdowns.
Nov. 21, 2010: Patriots 31, Colts 28
The Colts rallied and were pushing toward a go-ahead or tying score late in the fourth quarter. But safety James Sanders ended the comeback with an interception of a Manning pass on first and 10 from the Patriots 24. The Patriots were ahead, 31-14, but Manning led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, and New England was forced to punt after failing to convert on third down with 2:38 left in the game, setting up a final attempt by the Colts.
Nov. 15, 2009: Colts 35, Patriots 34
This will be known forever as the “fourth-and-2’’ game. The Patriots faced fourth and 2 on their own 28, and coach Bill Belichick decided to go for it in an attempt to seal the victory, but Brady’s pass to Kevin Faulk (pictured being stopped short) didn’t get the yardage, and the Colts used the two minutes remaining to hammer home the winning touchdown with just seconds left. The Patriots dominated the second quarter to pull ahead by 10 at halftime and went up, 31-14, in the fourth quarter when Randy Moss caught his second touchdown. The Colts answered with two touchdowns while allowing only a field goal to set up the decisive situation. Manning’s 1-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne completed the comeback, and the Colts improved to 9-0 on the season.
Nov. 2, 2008: Colts 18, Patriots 15
The Patriots traveled to Indy with a 5-2 record, and had Matt Cassel at quarterback because of Brady’s knee injury. The Colts were a surprising 3-4, but Manning finished with 254 yards and two touchdowns. Cassel threw short passes, and the Patriots never found the end zone through the air, scoring only one rushing touchdown and three field goals. The winning play came with 8:05 remaining in the fourth quarter when Adam Vinatieri nailed a 52-yard field goal. Pictured: Colts cornerback Bob Sanders (21) had a late interception, and Benjamin Watson made the tackle.
Nov. 4, 2007: Patriots 24, Colts 20
The Colts and Patriots both entered with perfect records, and with 704 total yards combined by the teams, it was one of the better games they played. The Colts were up, 20-10, with 10 minutes remaining, but it wasn’t enough. Brady led two touchdown drives that gave Rodney Harrison (37) and the Patriots the edge on their way to an undefeated regular season. Manning finished 16 of 27, for 225 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Jan. 21, 2007 — AFC Championship: Colts 38, Patriots 34
The Colts made it three straight wins over the Patriots, this time in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots got off to a 21-3 lead before Manning brought the Colts back. The teams exchanged scores until Manning led the Colts on an 80-yard drive to put them up for good. Brady had one minute to try to steal a win, but an interception sealed the victory. Indianapolis went on to defeat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Former Patriot Dan Klecko (61) spiked the ball after scoring a second-half touchdown that tied the score, 21-21.
Nov. 5, 2006: Colts 27, Patriots 20
For the second year in a row, the Colts entered 8-0. Vinatieri found himself on the Indianapolis sideline for the first time in the rivalry and was 2 for 4 on field goal attempts. Manning finished with 326 yards, two touchdown passes, and one interception. Brady threw four interceptions, including this one by Cato June with less than two minutes left.
Nov. 7, 2005: Colts 40, Patriots 21
The Colts entered the Week 9 matchup 8-0 and the Patriots were 4-3. Manning was 0-7 against New England, and seemed to take the game personally, throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns. The other elements of the Colts’ offense made great contributions as well: Edgerrin James ran for 104 yards, and Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne (87) each caught nine passes for 128 and 124 yards, respectively.
Jan. 16, 2005 — AFC Divisional Playoff: Patriots 20, Colts 3
For the second year in a row, the Patriots and Colts met in the playoffs, this time in the divisional round. The Colts had an offensive explosion in the wild-card round against the Broncos and put up 49 points. Against the Patriots, they couldn’t find the end zone. The Patriots had a 15-minute advantage in time of possession. Manning threw for 238 yards. Brady was 18 of 27 for 144 yards and one score. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl over the Philadelphia Eagles. Here, a dejected Manning walked off the field as the Patriots began to celebrate.
Sept. 9, 2004: Patriots 27, Colts 24
The rivals opened the 2004 season at Gillette Stadium and the Colts were looking for revenge from their last meeting. Indianapolis led by 4 at halftime, but Brady’s two third-quarter touchdowns put the Patriots up for good. The Colts had a chance to tie the game as time expired but Mike Vanderjagt—who had hit 42 straight field goal attempts—shanked his kick. Here, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork took a fumble recovery out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Manning finished with 256 yards passing (16 of 29), with two touchdowns and one interception.
Jan. 18, 2004 — AFC Championship Game: Patriots 24, Colts 14
In the AFC Championship game, the Colts had 446 total yards to the Patriots’ 402, but one extra turnover by the Colts helped the Patriots hold on for the win. Manning was 23 of 47 for 237 yards, but threw four interceptions. The Patriots went on to defeat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Nov. 30, 2003: Patriots 38, Colts 34
The teams did not meet in the 2002 season, the last year they did not play. In 2003, the Patriots entered the game with a 9-2 record. Brady threw two TDs and two interceptions while Manning had four scores and one interception. One crucial play came with 11 seconds left in the first half when Bethel Johnson (81) returned a kick 92 yards to give the Patriots a 14-point lead. The Patriots made a goal-line stand at the end of the game to preserve the win.
Oct. 21, 2001: Patriots 38, Colts 17
At halftime, the game was all but over, with the Patriots up, 28-6. The Colts had more offensive yards, but the Patriots’ defense held Manning to just one touchdown. Brady threw for three touchdowns, two to David Patten (pictured). It was a game for receivers: Marvin Harrison had 157 yards, Troy Brown had 120, and Patten finished with 117.
Sept. 30, 2001: Patriots 44, Colts 13
Brady’s first NFL start was against the Colts, and while the defense played a central role in the victory (four turnovers, two interceptions returned for touchdowns), Brady didn’t make any major mistakes. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 168 yards. A week earlier, Drew Bledsoe had been knocked out of a game vs. the Jets—a hit that changed the course of Patriots history. Manning finished with only 196 yards passing, going 20 of 34 with three picks to go against one TD pass.
Oct. 22, 2000: Colts 30, Patriots 23
Two weeks after their first meeting of the season, the Colts and Patriots met again, this time in Indianapolis. Edgerrin James (seen here eluding Henry Thomas) ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, while Manning had 268 yards through the air. The Patriots held a 23-14 lead entering the final quarter, but after 16 unanswered Colt points, they fell to 2-6 on the season.
Oct. 8, 2000: Patriots 24, Colts 16
The Patriots used three quarterbacks and won at home. Manning threw 54 passes, completing 31 for 334 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. The Patriots used Drew Bledsoe (15 of 23, 142 yards, 2 TDs), Lee Johnson (1 of 1, 18 yards), and Michael Bishop (pictured here, throwing his only pass: a 44-yard touchdown to Tony Simmons on the last play of the first half)