Sunday, Oct. 8 1:00pm ET
Patriots' trick plays trip Colts 24-16

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- Three passers were better than one for New England.

New England's Tony Simmons catches Michael Bishop's "hail mary" 44-yard touchdown pass during Sunday's victory.
Drew Bledsoe, scrambler Michael Bishop and punter Lee Johnson made the big throws for the Patriots in their 24-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Peyton Manning, who went into the game as the AFC's top-rated quarterback, wasn't enough for the Colts, despite his career-high 31 completions.

"Let it be known," Johnson said with a laugh. "There's a full-blown quarterback controversy on the Patriots."

Bledsoe has a lock on the job, especially after throwing six touchdown passes with no interceptions in the Patriots' two straight victories after their 0-4 start.

Despite their 2-4 record, the Patriots are a dangerous team because of Drew Bledsoe and because they're strong defensively (which is coach Bill Belichick's strength).

The Patriots continue to dig themselves out of the early-season hole they got into. Bledsoe had a strong performance in this game for the Pats -- including two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Earlier this season, New England's problem was not making plays down the stretch, which contributed to four straight losses. But Bledsoe changed that in this game.

Early on, the Colts seemed to be in control, but Michael Bishop's Hail Mary toss at the end of the first half seemed to spark the Patriots. The Colts dominated the time of possession, but they had trouble running the football against a stout New England defense.

For the Colts, this has been a tough road stretch that continues next week at Seattle.

This was a game, statistically, the Colts could have won. But you have to give credit to the Patriots -- and Bledsoe, for coming up clutch down the stretch.

Tom Donahoe,'s NFL analyst, was formerly the Steelers' director of football operations.

Bishop, meanwhile, hit Tony Simmons with his first pass as a pro: a desperation 44-yard touchdown throw to tie the game at 10 on the last play of the first half.

"It was a play we practice all week," said Bishop, a seventh-round draft pick last year who used his speed to escape defenders and give receivers time to get downfield. "The key was putting the ball up in the air as high as I could and hoping it got to the right guy."

Johnson, on his sixth pass in 16 NFL seasons, hit Eric Bjornson for an 18-yard gain to the Indianapolis 4 on a fake-field goal play in the fourth quarter. Bledsoe then threw his second touchdown pass, a 4-yarder to Terry Glenn for a 24-13 lead with 7:26 left.

"It seemed like I waited a lifetime for the ball to get to me," said Bjornson, who wasn't spotted by the Colts as he lined up near the right sideline. "The real key the last two weeks is we got points on the board on our first drives. That automatically puts the other team in a defensive mode."

The Patriots (2-4) beat Denver 28-19 last week and scored on their first possession again Sunday on Adam Vinatieri's 21-yard field goal.

The Colts (3-2) took the lead on Manning's 17-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Harrison in the second quarter. But a 14-play drive on their last series of the first half and a 22-play march on their first series of the second half ended only in 33-yard field goals by Mike Vanderjagt.

"Our long drives were good and bad news. We had the two drives but we didn't score touchdowns," Colts coach Jim Mora said. "We lost because we hurt ourselves."

Not even Manning -- who completed 31 of 54 passes for 334 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions -- could overcome that.

"Missed assignments and penalties cost us on both drives," said Manning, who is 0-3 at Foxboro. "I hope this doesn't come back to haunt us, especially in a division game."

With Indianapolis, Buffalo and the New York Jets all losing Sunday, New England's prospects are brighter.

Bledsoe left the game for a play after Simmons' 39-yard kickoff return gave the Patriots the ball at the Indianapolis 44 with three seconds left.

Bishop, with a stronger arm and faster feet than Bledsoe, rolled to his right, dropped back to his 40-yard line and flung the ball into the right corner of the end zone. Simmons outjumped defensive backs Jeff Burris and Chad Cota.

"I have been playing football since seventh grade and I have never completed a Hail Mary in my life," said Bledsoe, who finished 15-of-23 for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

The Patriots played their usual strong second-half defense and yielded only six points, including Vanderjagt's 34-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in the game.

Game notes
Manning's previous career high was 30 completions against New England as a rookie in 1998. ... The Patriots are 8-1 in their last nine games against the Colts, 5-0 at home. ... Indianapolis missed a chance to go 3-0 on the road for the first time since 1977. ... Harrison led all receivers with 13 catches for 159 yards, his second largest output in his five NFL seasons. It was the eighth time in his last 10 games he's had more than 100 yards receiving. ... The Colts' Edgerrin James, averaging 91 yards rushing entering the game, was held to 75 on 24 carries. The Patriots duo of Kevin Faulk (12-for-64) and J.R. Redmond (14-for-45) outrushed him by 34 yards. ... The Colts, with nine sacks in their last two games, sacked Bledsoe three times in the first 17 minutes but none in the last 43.


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 The Patriots' Lee Johnson says the Colts were not ready for a fake field goal.
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