FOXBORO, Mass.—It could have been a compelling storyline. Instead it will be one that's run its course.
Which one Colts fans will prefer will depend on what happens six days from now.
For a second straight season, John Harbaugh's team went on the road as a sixth seed in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and pulled out the victory, this time in dominating fashion over the New England Patriots 33-14 Sunday in Foxboro.
Ray Rice rushed for 159 yards, including an 83 yard touchdown on the opening play to set the tone for the Ravens, who led 24-0 at the end of one quarter. The turnover-happy Ravens defense picked off Tom Brady three times and got another turnover on a fumble while never allowing the Patriots to hold a lead.
This will mean another meeting between the two teams, which features the Colts playing a team from the city to which they unceremoniously departed from back in 1984. The Colts survived a defensive slugfest at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22nd, using a Matt Stover field goal and a late Gary Brackett interception to stay undefeated with a 17-15 victory.
From Week 11: Jeremiah Johnson's Notebook from M&T Bank Stadium following Colts over Ravens
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Photos: Colts and Ravens in Week 11
Had New England won, the Colts would have had been in the uncomfortable position of facing a Jets team they helped to make the playoffs when the put most of the regulars on the bench up 15-10 in the fourth quarter of their game at Lucas Oil Stadium December 27th. New York went on to win that game and then beat the Bengals twice-once at home in the regular season finale and then in the wild card game in Cincinnati Saturday-to advance to the divisional round.
Such a result has been the norm for the Colts against their AFC rivals, since they have won the last seven matchups, and are 8-2 overall against the Ravens since their move to Baltimore in 1996. The Colts have also never lost to Baltimore, winning all four games at the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium, including a 34-3 victory on October 12, 2008.
On the road to a Super Bowl XLI championship, the Colts beat Baltimore 15-6 in the divisional playoffs behind five Adam Vinatieri field goals at M&T Bank Stadium.
Kickoff for the game will be at 8:15 P.M. Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.