The Patriots beat Peyton Manning’s Colts 24-14 to advance to the Super Bowl back in 2003, then won a rematch in the divisional round a season later.
In 2006, Manning’s Colts won a 38-34 AFC Championship shootout in Indy, and in Andrew Luck’s first post-season match-up, the Patriots won 43-22 in the divisional round.
“We’ve played this team quite a few times over the last few years and none of them as important as this game here. So, I’m sure they’re going to be doing the things they’re most confident in, we’re going to do the things and we’re most confident in and see how it all shakes out,” said Tom Brady.
For Brady and Bill Belichick, it’s their 9th AFC Championship game. Sunday will be a rematch with the Colts, from week 11, when the Pats won 42-20. Now the question is, have the Colts improved enough to trump the Pats?
“We are playing good complimentary football. Three phases are complimenting one other. We had that happen during a 5-game win streak earlier in the year, coming off an 0-2 start at the beginning of the season,” said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
“A team that’s different now than the last time we faced them. A lot better team. I think they played well together as a team in all three phases. They’re coached well. They have great playmakers, a great offense, I mean Luck is probably one of the best quarterbacks in the game, he’s a young stud,” said Patriots defensive captain Vince Wilfork.
The Colts carry the confidence that comes from shutting down Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver, but Andrew Luck will be faced once again with solving Belichick’s defense.
“Every down is a chess match, is a battle. They do a great job of scheming and they do a great job of having great players. There’s a bunch of studs out there. Their back end is loaded with guys that can play football,” said Andrew Luck.
And guys who have a sense of urgency. Because it’s win or go home.
“They’ve won two games, they’re arguably the hottest team in the AFC, with one of the best young players in this league in Andrew Luck, so we understand that this game is going to be a dog fight,” said Pats special teams captain Matthew Slater.