FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Peyton Manning had just thrown for nearly 400 yards, completed more than 73 percent of his passes and had a season-high four touchdown tosses. But it was his last throw of the day that left him steaming after the game.
With the Colts in position to at least tie the game with a field goal with 31 seconds remaining, James Sanders picked off an errant Manning pass to seal a 31-28 victory for New England. It was Manning’s season-high third interception of the game.
“I’m just sick about not extending the game,” Manning said. “There’s just no excuse just not to extend the game there and give [Adam] Vinatieri a chance for a field goal. Certainly, we were going for the win. We had some time, had some timeouts and felt like we had a good play call. [It was] just a poor throw and it’s really sickening.”
Manning was pressured on the play by Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, but after the game the Colts’ quarterback said he didn’t think that affected his throw.
“I certainly didn’t get everything on the throw that I wanted,” Manning said. “We had the matchup that I wanted and I took a shot at the end zone and I just did not -- I can’t tell [you] the reason -- [but] I just did not get everything I wanted on the throw."
Manning also took the blame for his other two picks.
“I made a poor decision on the one down the right sideline,” Manning said. “Pierre ran the right route, and I kind of made the wrong read, wrong decision. And the same on another in-route ... Pierre did the right thing. New England was moving their coverages. They were really mixing them up and moving them around. I had a couple of misreads on the coverages, so it wasn’t anything on Pierre, that’s for sure. Pierre made a couple of big, huge plays during the second half."
Manning called his interceptions “inexcusable”, especially “against a good offense like [the Patriots].”
Despite the mistakes, Manning was his vintage self for stretches in the second half. He led the Colts on back-to-back fourth-quarter touchdown drives of 73 yards. Each drive took seven plays and just over 2 minutes. It was a clinic of the hurry-up offense at its best.
But thanks to Sanders’ interception, it wasn’t enough.
"Anytime you’re playing against Tom [Brady] and that offense, you feel like you do have to score points and we got some momentum there in the end, but we would have liked to have kept it a little more even-keel throughout the game and not have had to have been in such an up-tempo mode, [coming] from behind,” Manning said. "Every play is just a lot of pressure on you in the fourth quarter because you feel like you’re just playing against the clock as well. Those are tough circumstances to play in. We did a good job until the end, had a chance to win it and [it’s] just sickening that we didn’t have a chance to extend the game."