INDIANAPOLIS—Somewhere in the crowd or maybe on the field, someone reached in their pocket to pull them out.
They've haven't been used two much in this enormous new home for the Indianapolis Colts-which is nearly double the size of the old RCA Dome-and has lost some of its noise due to the open roof and window.
They rang when the Colts made stops and scored points to pull out a 35-34 comeback victory over the Patriots in a game that reminded many of the classics played across the street at the old dome. But thanks to Sunday's win the Colts have an inside track to doing what they used to do all the time at the old building-host a playoff game.
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At 9-0 the Colts are the lone undefeated team in the AFC and have a two-game lead over the Bengals, whose win over the Steelers puts them at 7-2. New England and Denver are three games back while a collection of five win teams sit staring up at the Colts, who hold a four game lead in their division.
"It is a huge win. That was really the main reason we wanted to win it," said quarterback Peyton Manning of the conference race. "The main reason is its an AFC team, certainly a home game. Teams in our division are winning. Tennessee is kind of getting hot. Jacksonville is getting hot. Houston, we certainly know how good of a team they are.
That is what we are trying to do, staying ahead of those teams."
Especially New England, who despite the loss on Sunday figures to be the Colts' biggest road block to a Super Bowl appearance.
"Just winning another game nine (and) giving those guys three losses, essentially we get the tiebreaker," said linebacker Gary Brackett. "We still have a lot of football left but it feels good always to be on top of those guys."
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A Small Awakening
The spoils of victory can sometimes put on the blinders for a player or a team. Inconsistent plays can be overshadowed by the big ones at critical times, and can put a rosy outlook on even some of the most glaring of errors.
But at the end of Sunday's comeback 35-34 victory over the Patriots, Jim Caldwell didn't forget that his team learned something about itself, and not all of it was good.
"There were a lot of things," said Caldwell when asked about some of the struggle the Colts had on defense for the better part of three-and-a-half quarters against New England.
Before making a big four down stop on the Patriots with just under two minutes to play in the game, quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Randy Moss turned the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium into a playground. Moss caught nine passes from Brady for 179 yards and two touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch in the second quarter for a score to put New England up 17-7. Brady ended up 29-of-42 for 375 yards-his third-highest total of the season-along with three touchdowns as the Patriots drove up and down the field for most of the night.
An interception and a forced fumble inside the 20 by the Colts kept New England from scoring more points in the third quarter.
"We certainly can't give up big plays, and early on Moss was having his way with us, and he's a great player and a very talented guy, and if you get him where he's even with you, and Brady's not gonna miss him," said Caldwell.
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