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Pats stop Manning, advance



Published: Mon, January 17, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



New England QB Tom Brady is now 7-0 in the postseason.

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- The New England Patriots kept the ball away from Peyton Manning most of the game and shut him down when he had it.

The Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 20-3 on Sunday behind Corey Dillon's 144 yards rushing in his playoff debut and a dominant defense that was missing three key players but not many tackles.

"I think our defense is what made this game successful," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "Three points to one of the best offenses in the history of football is incredible."

Deja Vu

The outcome was all too familiar for Manning.

For the second year in a row, his path to the Super Bowl ended on a snowy New England field where once again his MVP brilliance was eclipsed by a punishing defense.

For the defending champions, one more win in Pittsburgh and it's on to Jacksonville, Fla., for their third Super Bowl trip in four years.

Manning is now 0-7 in Foxboro. Brady is 7-0 in the postseason.

Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest and Coach Bill Belichick's defense spent the day frustrating Manning, who was 27-for-42 for 238 yards. In a stunning failure for the NFL's most prolific passing attack, the Colts managed only a field goal.

The conditions were just right for the Patriots' strategy: run the ball, throw short passes and watch the clock tick down, putting together their three most time-consuming drives of the season.

"I think they were tough conditions," Brady said. "The wind was really blowing hard. The field was muddy. We were just glad to make plays when we had to."

Frozen horses

The cold temperatures couldn't have helped Indianapolis, which plays home games in the 72-degree warmth of the RCA Dome. Last year in Foxboro, Manning threw four interceptions in a 24-14 AFC title game loss.

"You usually don't talk about the first game having an effect on the playoffs," he said. "But we talked about it at the time. We felt we'd play them again and because of that loss, we felt we'd probably play them here."

Dillon keyed a ball-control offense that kept Manning on the sideline, while Brady threw for one touchdown, ran for another and completed 18 passes in 27 attempts for 144 yards.

New England (15-2) led 6-0 on Adam Vinatieri's field goals of 24 and 31 yards in the second quarter with the first one capping a 16-play, 78-yard march that lasted 9 minutes, 7 seconds.

Indianapolis (13-5) scored on Mike Vanderjagt's 23-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.

Pulling away

When Brady threw a 5-yard scoring pass to David Givens to cap a third-quarter drive that lasted 8:16, Manning had to make his remaining possessions count against the hard-hitting defense.

He didn't -- and Brady followed with a 94-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard touchdown run.

Facing a 20-3 deficit with 7:10 left, even Manning couldn't do much.

The Patriots proved once again they could win without their best defenders. Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour was sidelined with a knee injury, and starting cornerbacks Ty Law and Tyrone Poole are on injured reserve. But the Patriots' defense still stifled the fifth-highest scoring team in NFL history.

The season ended for the Colts right where it started. They lost the opener in Foxboro 27-24 when Vanderjagt missed a 48-yard field goal attempt in the final minute.




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