What is a classic battle is well-recounted in this Indy Star article.
Familiar foe, in the dome
Patriots meet Colts for crown in AFC
By Mike Chappell
Brace yourself, Indy, for the most important football event that’s ever visited the Circle City.
One step away from their first Super Bowl appearance in more than three decades, the Colts will attempt to take that monumental step against nemesis New England on Sunday evening in the RCA Dome. The No. 4-seeded Patriots earned their spot in the AFC Championship Game by upsetting No. 1 seed San Diego 24-21 on Sunday, sending the conference title game to Indianapolis.
The third-seeded Colts (14-4) reached their third AFC title game since 1995 by stuffing the second-seeded Baltimore Ravens 15-6 Saturday. They then sat back and waited for their opposition to be determined.
Hello, Patriots. They advanced when rookie place-kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a 31-yard field goal with 1:10 remaining.
Talk about instant karma. The Colts KO’d the Ravens on the strength of five field goals by former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri, who was replaced in New England by Gostkowski.
“There will be a lot of (story) angles there, with them finally having to come here, with Vinatieri on our side, with all the history between the two teams,” Colts coach Tony Dungy said before Sunday’s game when asked to address the possibility of the Patriots visiting Indy.
All will unfold in front of what promises to be a raucous sellout crowd in the RCA Dome.
“Playing at home,” Dungy said, “is what you like for your fans.”
Now, it’s up to the Colts to seal the deal. And there’s perhaps no more appropriate final hurdle to clear than the Patriots.
New England (14-4) has won three of the past five Super Bowls, and used the Colts as steppingstones twice, each time in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots dismissed the Colts 24-14 in the AFC title game after the 2003 season, then dominated them 20-3 the following season in the divisional round.
The Colts have gained a measure of revenge in the past two regular seasons, again in Gillette Stadium. They snapped a six-game losing streak to the Patriots in 2005 with a 40-21 victory, then posted a 27-20 win on Nov. 5.
New England, Dungy said, “obviously is an organization and team we have a lot of respect for.”
“Tom Brady is still doing all those things that cause you to win games,” he said. “I don’t think they’re a team anyone wants to play.”
The Colts, though, welcome the opportunity. The last time the franchise reached the Super Bowl was after the 1970 season, and it still called Baltimore home. The Colts defeated Dallas 16-13 to win Super Bowl V.
There won’t be a lack of story lines:
Brady versus Colts’ counterpart Peyton Manning. Brady is 12-1 in the postseason, Manning 5-6.
Vinatieri kicking against the team that opted not to re-sign him after the 2005 season. All he’s done for the Colts is convert all eight of his field goal attempts in the postseason.
Manning and offensive coordinator Tom Moore matching wits with Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots making their first visit to Indy since 2003, when they stopped running back Edgerrin James short of the goal line in the closing seconds to preserve a 34-31 win.
The Colts attempting to finish what they were unable to a year ago. They squandered home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by losing to Pittsburgh 21-18 in the RCA Dome in the divisional round.
Dungy attempting to become the first black coach to take his team to the Super Bowl.
All Dungy requires of his Colts is to continue to play at a high level and with poise even though they must do so on a pressurized, national stage.
“If you can do the things you normally do . . . when the stakes are really high, that’s what it takes,” he said.