AFC Championship Live Blog: Steve Tasker, Baby!

Mothereffing Steve Tasker on the sideline report! Solomon Wilcots is also working the ‘lines. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are in the booth. I have no problem with any of these guys.

New England gets the kickoff and fools Indianapolis with a draw to Kevin Faulk on 3rd and long. Phil Simms just said that Indianapolis essentially plays two types of defense, and I’m supposed to still believe that Tony Dungy is a defensive genius. From this point forward, I can only assume that these defenses are named “Sieve” and “Craptastic”. To its credit, Craptastic forces an incompletion on third down and borderline insane punter Todd Sauerbrun kicks it away. Nice return for 16 yards by Mathis.

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Rodney Harrison is not playing tonight, and on Indy’s first offensive play, Richard Seymour tenderly clutches at his foot. The crowd is booing Seymour, although I’m not entirely sure why they’re upset. Manning unleashes a pass down the right sideline, but leads Joseph Addai by six inches too much. Sexy time. And by “sexy time”, I mean another punt.

Fine, I’ll say it. I can’t hear the name “Maroney” and not be reminded of this guy:

Sorry, I couldn’t find a picture of Mahoney and his “One In The Oven” t-shirt.

After wriggling out to midfield, New England presses their luck on 4th and one inch. No whammies, as Corey Dillon busts a long run. Two plays later, New England faces 3rd and a foot at the Indy 4. An absolutely AMAZING play unfolds, as Brady and Maroney fumble the exchange. The ball squirts underneath no less than six Colts defenders inside the four yard line, eventually rolls into the end zone, and is recovered for a touchdown by a New England lineman. Logan Mankins, welcome to the box score! New England 7, Indianapolis 0

In response, Indianapolis moves to midfield and narrowly misses a touchdown on a bomb to Harrison. Dallas Clark makes a great catch to keep the drive going, and the Colts barely convert a 3rd and inches at the Pats 26. From that point, Indy goes backward. Penalty, incomplete deep ball (another great play by a New England defensive back), third down swing pass for nothin’, and a nice draw to Addai on 3rd and 19 to give Adam Vinatieri a chance at a 42 yarder. The kick ducks inside the right post, and Vinatieri still hasn’t missed inside the RCA Dome. You know we’re going to have a Gary Anderson Moment in the fourth quarter, right? We’ve already established this.

New England 7, Indianapolis 3.

I’d like to thank CBS for broadcasting this game in high-definition. If this was a regular season game, it would probably look like this:

We’re in the second quarter, and the Patriots chip their way down the field. They’re doing quite well running to the right side. On 3rd and 10, they call a perfectly timed screen as Indy blitzes, but Raheem Brock hustles downfield from his defensive line position to slow up the play. It’s still a five yard gain to the Indy 34, which is enough to cause Belichick to call timeout and examine his fourth down options. I think they end up kicking the field goal. I’ll probably be wrong. As expected, Brady is on the field and he hits a slanting, 54 year old Troy Brown, who runs inside the Indy 10. Indianapolis blitzed on that play, and nobody laid a finger on Brady. The Pats hand off to Corey Dillon, who puts a paralyzing juke on Jason David and walks into the end zone.

New England 14, Indianapolis 3

The Colts should really think about tackling somebody today. It might help. They did a hell of a job tackling straight-line runners the past few weeks, but are struggling mightily today. Suddenly, it’s an important drive for the Colts offense. Let’s see how Manning responds.

New England 21, Indianapolis 3

Okay, then. Manning is intercepted by Asante Samuel, who runs 39 yards for a New England touchdown. It’ll get lost in the talk of “Manning chokes again”, but Marvin Harrison didn’t exactly put a big fight for that pass. Same goes for Harrison and other Indy receivers on the earlier deep passes.

Now it’s an outright shitstorm for the Colts. A poor kickoff return, two consecutive sacks, and a delay of game penalty have them backed up in a 3rd and 24 situation at their own 3. Manning evades a sack in the end zone and gets creamed by Roosevelt Colvin while throwing a beautiful deep pass to Marvin Harrison. Harrison, true to form this evening, drops the ball after it hits both of his hands.

The team is collapsing around Peyton. The defense is sagging badly, the offensive line is getting owned, and the receivers aren’t physical enough to win individual, one-on-one battles. The Colts are compelled to punt, and New England takes over at midfield. Bill Carollo gets a call from upstairs, and his crew nails New England on consecutive offensive pass interference and illegal motion penalties, the former wiping out a Ben Watson catch for a first down. Brady is harmlessly sacked on 3rd and 20-something, and New England punts.

NFL.com already has the recap of the play: 4-27-IND 49 (3:13) T.Sauerbrun punts 37 yards to IND 12, Center-L.Paxton, fair catch by T.Wilkins. NE-A.Spann was injured during the play. His return is Probable.

Now that’s some serious diagnosis. Bill Frist would be proud!

Oh, that Vinny Testaverde commercial is going to keep me happy for the next two weeks. Well done, Mastercard.

I guess now the Colts mean business. They start at their own 12, put Manning in the shotgun, and reach the Indy 8 with 24 seconds and two timeouts remaining. Dominic Rhodes gets nothing on first down — timeout. It’s no secret that Indy needs seven points here. On second down, Manning throws off his back foot and into the end zone, Dallas Clark can’t fight off the New England defender and the ball bounces off Clark’s face mask. Third down, it’s an incomplete fade to Reggie Wayne after lengthy discussion of possible pass interference.

New England 21, Indianapolis 6

Vinatieri kicks a cheapie, and we’re at halftime. A small confidence builder for Indy as they head into the locker room, but it’ll be an uphill slog for the Colts in the second half.

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