It may be hard to hear with the top about to blow off the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana, but if you listen closely you can hear a sigh of relief from the Colts, namely from Pro-Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning.
After completing the largest comeback win in AFC/NFC Championship history, the Colts are finally headed for the Super Bowl.
For all his accolades in the regular season throughout his career, Manning has struggled mightily in the playoffs. In some circles, Manning has even been called the “Dan Marino” of this era because of his playoff struggles.
Enter Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He has been referred to as the “Joe Montana” of this era for his success in the playoffs. He has won three Super Bowls in this decade. When it matters the most he is cool, calm, and collected.
Sunday, however, was a day of vindication and redemption for Manning and company.
For any football fan familiar with recent Colts-Patriots playoff match-ups, the scene looked all too familiar in the early going.
The Patriots were dominant in the first half and Tom Brady executed the game plan flawlessly, while the Colts’ offensive line struggled to give Manning enough throwing time.
Patriots’ rookie running back Laurence Maroney fumbled on a goal-line rush attempt in the first quarter; left guard Logan Mankins pounced on the ball in the end zone for the first touchdown of the game.
Things only worsened for the Colts in the second quarter.
Peyton Manning telegraphed a pass intercepted by Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel, who then returned it 39 yards for a touchdown and extend the lead to 21-3.
The Colts looked like a beaten team and it appeared that history was repeating itself.
However, the Colts showed they have what it takes to succeed in the playoffs as they rallied from an 18-point deficit.
In the fourth quarter, with the score 28-21 Patriots, the Colts returned the favor to the Patriots when Colts running back Dominic Rhodes fumbled on a rush attempt and center Jeff Saturday recovered the ball in the end zone, tying the game again.
With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Colts led with a score of 38-34, and the Patriots had their last chance to win the game. However, Brady threw an interception and the Colts finally beat their nemesis in the playoffs.
The Super Bowl is now set. The Indianapolis Colts versus the Chicago Bears in Miami, Florida.
Where will you be on February 4th?