Be honest, you thought the Patriots were going to blow this one, too.

In a game where Pats fans were feeling deja vu, the Patriots’ defense once again did just enough in the closing minutes to squeak by with a 31-28 win.

Trailing by 17 points in the fourth quarter, Peyton Manning took the field and began to pick apart the Pats’ secondary one throw at a time. After scoring 14 unanswered points, it was time to hit the panic button. This looked eerily similar to last season’s game in which New England blew a 17-point lead en route to a 35-34 loss.

This time, though, Manning threw one pass too many. James Sanders picked off a pass intended for Pierre Garcon. It was the second pick in as many games for Sanders.

“[Manning] is trying to drive that stake in our heart,” Sanders said. “Peyton, he’s that kind of quarterback. If he has enough time he’s going to try to win the game. He’s not playing for field goals. We played hard for 60 minutes and we came out on top.”

With two of the NFL’s best under center, it was apparent early on that this would be an air affair. But in a game that featured so much offense, it was the defensive stand that made the difference.

“We’ve seen in the past, that’s not enough,” Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. “I think going into this week, the offense realized they had to score points. And I think our defense, we realized, ‘Hey, there’s going to come a point where we’re going to have to stand up and basically be a man out there.’ And we did.”

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