Final

Patriots 15

(5-3, 2-2 away)

Colts 18

(4-4, 2-2 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:15 PM ET, November 2, 2008

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 

1 2 3 4 T
NE 0 6 6 315
IND 7 0 8 318

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (IND) - 254 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: K. Faulk (NE) - 10 CAR, 60 YDS

Receiving: R. Moss (NE) - 6 REC, 65 YDS

Vinatieri keeps Colts above water with clutch kicks

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Adam Vinatieri still has it.

The 36-year-old kicker showed his old team Sunday night that age hasn't sapped his distance, accuracy or proclivity for making big field goals. He hit a 52-yarder late in the game to give Indianapolis a desperately needed 18-15 victory over New England -- and Vinatieri a measure of revenge.

Fast Facts

• The Colts moved to 4-4 on the year with an 18-15 win over the Patriots. Indianapolis has won by the same score twice this season (Week 2 vs Vikings).

• Peyton Manning went 21-29 for 254 yards and a touchdown pass, helping the Colts snap a two-game losing streak.

• Wes Welker had seven catches and now has six or more catches in each game this season. He joined Jimmy Smith ('01 Jaguars) as the only players in NFL history to accomplish the feat in the first eight games of a season.

-- ESPN research

"I've got all the respect and admiration for that team," said Vinatieri, who left New England as a free agent after the 2005 season. "I've still got a lot of good friends over there. I guess that's why it's that much sweeter when you have an opportunity to play well and help your current team beat your former team. I'm pretty happy about that."

The kick was Vinatieri's longest since a 57-yarder at Chicago on Nov. 10, 2002, and it should have come as no surprise to the Patriots, who used Vinatieri's right foot to win two Super Bowl titles.

But New England (5-3) couldn't simply blame Vinatieri for this loss.

Of their four time-consuming scoring drives, three resulted in field goals, and Jabar Gaffney dropped a sure touchdown pass late in the third quarter. Then there was tight end David Thomas, who drew a 15-yard dead ball penalty that pushed New England out of field-goal range with 4:45 to go in the game. It sealed the Patriots fate.

"It was a mistake by me," Thomas said. "Obviously, they called it, and I'll own up to it. I felt like that was definitely a critical mistake for me, and it really cost the team."

The result allowed Vinatieri, the Patriots career scoring leader, to show he's still the NFL's best clutch kicker.

Not that the Colts ever doubted him.

"When he kicked in pregame, he said he thought he'd be good from 55 and he made it pretty high in the net," coach Tony Dungy said.

This year's rivalry game had none of the trimmings from recent years. There was no championship at stake, no hype about unbeaten teams or defending Super Bowl titles. Heck, Tom Brady wasn't even playing.

Yet players and fans responded as if this was still the league's best matchup on a day full of headline attractions.

Indy (4-4) used Marvin Harrison as a punt returner. Bob Sanders played the entire game after returning from knee and ankle injuries. Bill Belichick even had a direct snap to Kevin Faulk.

But with both teams facing unusual circumstances -- New England is tied with the Jets and Bills atop the AFC East and Indy is just trying to stay in the playoff chase -- this game carried big stakes.

"We felt we had to win because we had lost two games already, were coming off a difficult game, a short week and I thought our guys showed some resolve," Dungy said. "But we have to get on some sort of streak, so I'm not ready to call it defining just yet."

The new realities forced Belichick and Dungy into a classic chess match, with both reverting to old game plans.

Two-time league MVP Peyton Manning exposed the Patriots' soft middle early, and Indy's second possession produced the best drive of the season: a 15-play, 91-yard, 9-minute, 2-second march that ended with Manning hooking up with a wide-open Anthony Gonzalez down the sideline for a 12-yard TD pass and a 7-0 lead.

Manning was 21-of-29 for 254 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, his best performance of the season.

New England countered with its old style dink-and-dunk attack, which never gave Indy a chance to pull away.

After trailing 7-6 at the half, BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored on a 6-yard TD run to open the third quarter and give New England a 12-7 lead. Faulk's 2-point run fell short of the goal line although replays showed he may have made it.

Manning answered with long passes on a short field, finally connecting with Gonzalez in the corner of the end zone for a 9-yard TD pass and Reggie Wayne hung on to the conversion pass in the back of the end zone after a big hit to make it 15-12.

New England tied the score on Gostkowski's 25-yard field goal with 11:33 left, but Manning drove the Colts 48 yards to set up Vinatieri for the winner.

"Before the half I told [special teams coach] Russ [Purnell] 'I feel good today going that way, if we've got a long one, maybe 60, let's go for it," Vinatieri said. "You've got to have the right situation and the right opportunity, and it worked out all right."

Game notes


Harrison returned his first punt in the regular season since 2005. ... Faulk surpassed the 3,000-yard mark in receiving during the first half. The pass to Wes Welker was Faulk's second career completion. His other completion went to Tom Brady in 2001. ... Randy Moss didn't have a pass thrown to him until 1:25 into the second half. He finished with six catches for 65 yards. ... Welker caught seven passes, giving him at least six receptions in all eight games this season. It's the longest streak to open a season since Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith in 2001.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NE
IND
1st Downs2218
Passing 1st downs
1216
Rushing 1st downs
102
1st downs from penalties
00
3rd down efficiency
8-146-10
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Plays6750
Total Yards342301
Yards per play5.16.0
Total Drives77
Passing202254
Comp-Att
26-3521-29
Yards per pass
5.88.8
Interceptions thrown
10
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-00-0
Rushing14047
Rushing Attempts
3221
Yards per rush
4.42.2
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-42-2
Penalties2-201-0
Turnovers20
Fumbles lost
10
Interceptions thrown
10
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession34:2425:36

Passing Leaders

NEC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Cassel25/342046.0010-0
Faulk1/1-2-2.0000-0
INDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Manning21/292548.8200-0

Rushing Leaders

NECARYDSAVGTDLG
Faulk10606.0015
Green-Ellis15573.8110
INDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Addai17321.905
Rhodes4153.805

Receiving Leaders

NERECYDSAVGTDLG
Moss66510.8020
Faulk5387.6011
INDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Wayne56513.0017
Clark46315.8020

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNEIND
indTD2:22Anthony Gonzalez 12 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)
Drive info: 15 plays, 91 yds, 9:02
07
SECOND QUARTERNEIND
neFG10:24Stephen Gostkowski 29 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 13 plays, 56 yds, 6:58
37
neFG1:31Stephen Gostkowski 35 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 13 plays, 61 yds, 6:18
67
THIRD QUARTERNEIND
neTD7:18Benjarvus Green-Ellis 6 Yard Run (Kevin Faulk Run For Two-Point Conversion is No Good)
Drive info: 15 plays, 72 yds, 7:48
127
indTD3:18Anthony Gonzalez 9 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Peyton Manning Pass to Reggie Wayne For Two-Point Conversion is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 57 yds, 4:00
1215
FOURTH QUARTERNEIND
neFG11:38Stephen Gostkowski 25 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 15 plays, 69 yds, 6:39
1515
indFG8:09Adam Vinatieri 52 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 48 yds, 3:28
1518