Have Game? Will Travel!

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Greatest NFL Regular Season Game: Patriots at Colts

After watching Iowa and Ohio St. go to overtime Saturday afternoon, it was hard to believe that the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts could play a more dramatic game, but Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick pulled it off.

Pre Game Dining
We arrived in Indianapolis around 2:00 pm and parked in a downtown parking lot for $20. We wandered around downtown for a bit before settling down at the Ugly Monkey located at 373 S. Illinois St. Surprisingly, the Ugly Monkey was a fun bar between the free shots and waitresses whipping (more like beating) every Patriots fan who walked through the door. I would definitely recommend it before a Colts game.

After the Ugly Monkey, I walked into the Slippery Noodle Inn which is another great bar. It has good music and seems to be built in an old house and trying to pass people in the hallways is not that easy.

Obtaining Tickets
When we first arrived in Indianapolis I went to the Lucas Oil Stadium box office to see if any tickets were available. There were, but the tickets cost $277 in the club level at the 50 yard line. That was too much for me.

About two hours before the game (6:20 pm), I started walking around Lucas Oil Stadium looking for a ticket. However, ticket prices were hovering around $150 to $200 each for upper deck seats. After a couple of loops around the stadium I decided to check with the box office again. I went to one ticket window and the cheapest seat they had available was $236. Since that ticket was cheaper than the ones they had earlier in the afternoon I decided to ask the next ticket window if there were any tickets available. Somehow she pulled up an upper deck seat for $74. I bought it immediately as I figured somebody must have returned a ticket and it would not last long. As it turned out Chris Baker, second string tight end for the Patriots, returned the ticket as I was sitting next to his cousin, aunt and uncle.

My Greatest NFL Regular Season Game
Last night’s game may have been the best regular season NFL game I have ever attended. First, it was between the Patriots (6-2) and the Colts (8-0). Below is a list of other games I have seen where both teams had at least twice as many wins as they had losses at the time they played. Only the Jets at Patriots game had a higher combined winning percentage:

October 24, 2004: Jets (5-0) at Patriots (5-0)
October 14, 1996: 49ers (4-1) at Packers (5-1)
November 15, 1992: Saints (7-2) at 49ers (7-2)
November 20, 2005: Panthers (7-2) at Bears (6-3)
November 27, 2005: Bears (7-2) at Buccaneers (6-3)
November 25, 2002: Eagles (7-3) at 49ers (7-3)

Second, the Colts won they game with 13 seconds left in the 4th quarter in dramatic fashion. The 49ers scored with 46 seconds left to win 21-20 on November 15, 1992 and the 49ers and Packers went to overtime on October 14, 1996.

Note: The worst NFL game I have ever seen was back on November 28, 2004 when the 49ers (1-9) hosted the Dolphins (1-9). While I have seen a lot of Bears games when they were bad, I do not think any of those games could beat that barnburner.

The Game
The Patriots and Colts more or less traded touchdowns during the game except for the second quarter then when the Patriots scored two consecutive touchdowns and a field goal to take a 24-7 lead halfway through the quarter.

All this helped setup the most controversial call of the season. The Colts drove 79 yards on 6 plays in 1:49 to score a touchdown and cut New England’s lead to 34-28 with 2:23 remaining in the 4th quarter. The Patriots had the ball with 2:23 left in the game and could just run out the clock with a decent drive. However, the Patriots drive stalled as they faced a 4th and 2 at their own 28 yard line. This is when Bill Belichick decided to take a chance and go for it.

Brady’s pass came up short to Keith Faulk and the Colts took over on downs. Manning now had a 29 yard field to work with to win the game for the Colts and he took advantage – scoring the final touchdown with 13 seconds left in the game to win 35-34.

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