The Patriots and Colts had a heated AFC playoff rivalry in the last decade, but it appeared to have ceased in March of 2012 when Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos. Less than two years after that league-altering transaction, the Patriots and Colts are set to renew their rivalry.
Andrew Luck and the Colts will face Tom Brady and the Patriots Saturday night at Gillette Stadium (8:15 p.m., CBS) for the right to advance to the AFC Championship game on Jan. 19. The Chargers, who upset the Bengals Sunday, will face Manning and Denver on Sunday, Jan. 12 (4:40 p.m., CBS).
Brady and the Pats won the only matchup in Indy’s new Luck-led era, a 59-24 blowout victory in Foxboro on Nov. 18, 2012. The Colts had been riding high before losing big to the Pats last season as they had won four games in a row and five of six until New England blew their doors off.
Luck and the Colts are once again on a four game win streak, but all anyone will focus on in the coming days will be their latest victory. Their 45-44 wild card win over the Chiefs this past Saturday will surely be a staple for years to come on NFL Network whenever they trot out “the best of Luck” as Indy completed the second largest playoff comeback in league history. Against KC, Luck tossed three of his four touchdown passes in the second half after the Colts had been down 31-10 at the break. The second-year QB’s gorgeous 64-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter gave Indy the lead for good. Earlier in the fourth, Luck adeptly recovered a Donald Brown fumble at the KC 5-yard line and plunged into the end zone himself to save the Colts’ season.
Luck is already on pace to be one of the league’s greats, statistics-wise, as he became the first player in NFL history to top 8,000 yards passing in his first two seasons. Now the Stanford product has a playoff win under his belt.
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A playoff win on the road over Brady and the Pats? Now that would be league-altering.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS