By Scott Kacsmar
Cold, Hard Football Facts Comeback King

What is it about the Colts/Patriots rivalry that leads to so many huge comeback attempts? Even without Peyton Manning, New England still suffered a little scare in the final minute of Sunday’s 31-24 victory.

Colts/Pats: Great for Comebacks

Though playing out much differently (and a bit anti-climatic), the game still falls into line with past meetings where someone tried to make a comeback.
November 30, 2003 – The real start of the Manning/Brady rivalry. After falling behind 31-10 late in the third quarter, Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes in just over six minutes to tie the game. Quick healer Willie McGinest would stuff Edgerrin James in the backfield on a goal line stand to preserve a 38-34 victory that would go a long way in giving the Patriots homefield advantage in the AFC. New England beat the Colts 24-14 in the AFC Championship.
September 9, 2004 – On opening night for the 2004 season, the Colts were behind 27-17 to start the fourth quarter. A touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley pulled Indy within a field goal, but James would fumble at the one-yard line. On their final drive, it was McGinest once again making a big play, sacking Manning for a 12-yard loss. Mike Vanderjagt missed the 48-yard game-tying field goal with 0:19 left, preventing the game from going to overtime. Once again the head-to-head win would lead to New England having homefield over the Colts in the postseason; this time a 20-3 victory.
November 5, 2006 – On Sunday Night Football, the Colts led 27-17 in the fourth quarter at New England. After the Patriots added a field goal, their former kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 46-yard field goal for his new team, and Brady had one last chance. He threw his fourth interception of the game as the Colts held on for a critical win. Both teams would finish 12-4 and meet in the AFC Championship, with this game giving the Colts homefield.
January 21, 2007 – In the AFC Championship, the Patriots jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the first half. The Colts would add a field goal just before halftime, and tied the game in the third quarter. They scored 32 points in the second half on their way to the biggest comeback in a championship game in NFL history. Joseph Addai’s game-winning touchdown run came with 1:00 left. Down 38-34, Brady tried to lead a touchdown drive in the final seconds, but was intercepted by Marlin Jackson as the Colts would go on to win Super Bowl XLI.
November 4, 2007 – In a “Game of the Century” matchup, both teams were undefeated halfway through the season. The Patriots had been dominating every opponent, while the Colts had one of their strongest teams as well. Fans were able to see the difference from a step up in competition, as the Patriots trailed 13-10 in the fourth quarter. After a Brady interception, Manning scored on a QB sneak to take a 20-10 lead with 9:42 left. Brady would respond with two straight touchdown drives to take a 24-20 lead. New England caused a Manning fumble and the Patriots ran the clock out on offense. Both teams would have disappointing playoff losses, and a dream rematch in the AFC Championship never materialized.
November 2, 2008 – There was no Tom Brady to be found this time, after suffering the ACL injury on opening day. But this was still a primetime event and a very competitive game with Matt Cassel at quarterback for the Patriots. The 18-15 score looks low, but consider each offense only had 7 offensive possessions. The Patriots tied the game at 15 in the fourth quarter before Adam Vinatieri kicked a 52-yard game-winning field goal for the Colts. Cassel was intercepted by Bob Sanders, and then a last-ditch lateral attempt by Randy Moss resulted in a game-ending fumble.
November 15, 2009 – Once again on Sunday Night Football, the 8-0 Colts hosted the 6-2 Patriots in a game that would change the course of the AFC in 2009. The Patriots jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first half. They would lead 31-14 in the fourth quarter before the Colts had two touchdown drives of 79 yards. Then with a 4th and 2 at their own 28 and a 34-28 lead, Bill Belichick decided to go for it with 2:08 left instead of punting the ball back to Manning. The Patriots did not convert, and the Colts took over at the NE 29 with two minutes left. Reggie Wayne caught the game-winning touchdown with 0:13 left to complete the 17-point comeback in the fourth quarter. The game will always be remembered for the “4th and 2” decision.
November 21, 2010 – The Colts returned to Foxboro for the first time since 2006. Just like the previous year, the Patriots had a 31-14 lead in the fourth quarter. And once again the Colts started putting together long touchdown drives in a hurry. This time it was a pair of 73-yard drives. Brady’s third down pass was nearly intercepted, and the Colts had 2:25 left to drive for the tying field goal or game-winning touchdown. But after reaching the NE 24, Manning was pressured and intercepted by James Sanders with 0:31 left. The Patriots stopped the comeback this time, in what could be the last game ever between Manning and Brady, ending one of the greatest rivalries in NFL history.

2011’s Manning-less Edition

Go back to this past Sunday, and no one would have predicted another big comeback attempt, especially with the Patriots taking a 31-3 lead into the fourth quarter over the 0-11 Colts. That’s when Dan Orlovsky, making his first start of the season, led the first of three touchdown drives that would cover 86, 93 and 90 yards. In between was a bad interception, which was the first of Jerod Mayo’s career.
New England recovered the last-minute onside kick and Brady was able to take a knee to secure the 31-24 victory. The Colts therefore didn’t have a comeback opportunity, keeping their streak at 14 consecutive comeback losses. But Orlovsky finished 30/37 for 353 yards and the offense scored more than 20 points for just the second time this season, though most of that production came in the fourth quarter.
Still, it was stunning to see another game between these teams where the Patriots went into an offensive shell and the Colts kept stringing together long touchdown drives. The 21-point favorites from New England are now 0-5 against the spread since 2007 when favored by 20+ in a game. It was the third game decided by one score out of those five.

The “Losingest” QB’s of the Last Half-Century

The Colts now have two quarterbacks, Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter, who hold a most embarrassing distinction. They are both 0-8 as starters in the NFL, which added together equals 0-16. Orlovsky was already part of the NFL’s only 0-16 team (2008 Detroit Lions).
But it gets worse.
Most QB Career Games Without a Win (Since 1960)
QB Overall Record As Starter
Dan Orlovsky 0-17 0-8
Curtis Painter 0-11 0-8
Spergon Wynn 0-10 0-3
John Beck 0-9 0-7
Parnell Dickinson 0-8 0-1
That’s right. Using the pro-football-reference Play Index as a guide, Orlovsky has the most losses without a win (17) by a quarterback since 1960 in any game they played. Orlovsky is 0-16 in the 16 games he’s attempted a pass, and lost a 17th appearance at Philadelphia last season; stepping in for Matt Schaub on the final snap.
His teammate Painter has the second worst record at 0-11. His first appearance was the infamous game in 2009 when the Colts rested Peyton Manning in the third quarter with a small lead and 14-0 record. Painter played in Buffalo in Week 17, and the Colts lost both games. They’ve lost all 9 games Painter played in this season. 
  • Parnell Dickinson played for the 1976 Buccaneers, who of course finished 0-14.
  • Spergon Wynn was drafted 16 picks ahead of Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft.
  • Brodie Croyle is 0-10 as a starter for the Chiefs, but has gone 2-16 in his career appearances.
  • Brian Dowling was 0-8 in all the games he threw a pass in (0 starts), but did play in 6 career wins. He just did not accumulate any stats in those games.
  • Epic Colts’ bust Art Schlichter was 1-12 in his 13 career games (0-6 as a starter). He was the 4th overall pick of the 1982 draft. That was quite the gamble (pun intended).
Somehow the Colts are going to try avoiding 0-16 with two quarterbacks that don’t know what it’s like to leave the field after a victory they participated in. Who said we can't have 16-0 and 0-16 in the same season?