Patriots vs Colts Preview: A Brief History of the Rivalry, Plus a Gronk and Edelman Reunion
Posted by: Gronkowski
The Patriots host the Colts at Gillette Stadium Thursday night, but this is by no means a typical “Thursday Night Football” dud of a game.
For years, the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts matchups been a date on the calendar that sparked excitement and ignited nerves in the hearts of fans for both teams as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning went head-to-head.
Considered one of the most famous rivalries in the NFL, the two teams have combined for six Super Bowl victories (five by the Patriots) and nine AFC Championships since 2001.
It wasn’t always an even match, however, and the Patriots have come out on top in the last seven meetings.
"When you're in Indy, they look at it as a big rival, but when you're in the Boston area, the Colts are looked at as another team,” Matt Hasselbeck, former quarterback for the Colts and Boston College, said on ESPN Thursday.
Patriots vs. Colts has long been must-see TV for decades in both the regular season and the playoffs, including that nail-biting, heartbreaking 2006 AFC Championship game that sent the Colts onto win Manning’s first Super Bowl ring.
The rivalry simpered somewhat when Peyton was traded to the Denver Broncos after missing the 2011 season following neck surgery, and Andrew Luck replaced him under center.
Despite the Brady-Manning QB showdowns then moving west to Denver, the Colts became public enemy number one in New England again after the 2014 AFC Championship game.
The Patriots’ pounding of the Colts in a 45-7 win that led the Patriots to Super Bowl XLIX and a victory over the Seattle Seahawks later turned into the debacle that will go down in history as "Deflategate."
We won’t go into details of the drama that dragged on for two years, dominated the media, landed Brady in federal court (with the worst courtroom sketcher ever) and then on a four-game suspension before another epic Super Bowl run and an historic overtime … but needless to say, Patriots Nation still has a beef with the Colts.
While nothing is neither forgiven or forgotten, the good news is that the Pats are coming into Thursday’s game looking strong after a resounding win over the Dolphins – and the Colts are limping to the starting gate 1-3 with an injury-riddled roster.
Oh, and they don’t have Josh McDaniels as their head coach after he dumped them at the alter to stay with Bill Belichick for another season.
“The rivalry is back on," Colts GM Chris Ballard said in a press conference announcing McDaniels change of heart earlier this year. Ooops …
More good news is that with Julian Edelman back from his four-game suspension and Gronk cleared to play, Brady’s biggest target and his (physically) smallest will both be on the field. Rob and Jules haven’t both been active since Nov. 27, 2016 – yep, that’s almost two years ago, folks!
The last time Edelman played a regular season game was Super Bowl LI, and it’s safe to say that went pretty well … immortalizing “The Catch” in Patriots’ lore.
The Patriots are 10 point favorites at home with their longtime top scorers on the field and the addition of newbie Josh Gordon. But that by no means the Colts should be overlooked. Having made a slow return from shoulder surgery over the summer, Luck has completed 125 of 186 passes (67.3 percent) for 1,126 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He’ll have to find a way to score without TY Hilton, however, and will no doubt be targeting Eric Ebron (30 targets, 17 catches), Nyheim Hines (26/22), and Ryan Grant (22/18).
While the smart money is on New England, it's sure to be a helluva ride as always.
Kick-off is at 8:20 p.m. ET/5.20 p.m. PT and is airing on Fox, so be sure to bounce from work early to pre-game.
Before you go...