By: Ian Logue/
September 06, 2004

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FOXBORO, MA -- Ask any New England Patriots fan and they'll likely tell you the same thing.

It's about time.

Preseason is over, and in three days the Patriots will kick off their 2004 season against the Indianapolis Colts as they look to begin their Superbowl Championship title defense.

The game will likely receive a lot of hype due to the fact that it was the Colts that New England defeated in the AFC Championship Game back on January 18th, and in a shameless attempt for TV ratings the NFL has decided to reunite these two teams for the opener on Thursday night in front of a nationally televised audience.

Tom Brady calling signals during the AFC Championship against Indianapolis last season.
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Expectations are high for both teams. Patriots fans expect their team to repeat while Colts fans believe their team was shortchanged on a couple of bad calls in the AFC Championship game that kept their team from a title shot. There are also many in the media who have last year's Co-MVP Payton Manning's team slated to make it to the Superbowl this year.

The Carolina Panthers preseason game two weeks ago had plenty of hype that went along with it and that game didn't count.

This one will.

"I think it's going to be like a mini-Super Bowl going on out there with everything that's going on as far as the pregame hype,” Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour told the Boston Herald recently. "As a player you want games like this because you know the fans are into it. There is more hype around a game like this. It makes for a better atmosphere to play in and that's just the way it is.”

"To kick the season off against the Colts on national TV, you name it, and it's going into this game.”

New England owns a 40-24 regular season series advantage over the Colts and swept Indianapolis in both regular season meetings last season. They've also had success against them in recent years, with Indianapolis' last series win coming back on October 22, 2000.

To make matters worse, the Colts haven't had much success in their trips to New England. Indianapolis' last victory in Foxboro was back on November 19, 1995, with the team's overall record sitting at 9-22 when playing at the Patriots' home field.

Along with their loss back in Foxboro last January, the Colts also suffered a disappointing 38-34 loss in Indianapolis back in November of last season. The Colts rallied from 21-points down and had a chance to capture a last-second win, but failed to score from one yard out on three chances in the final seconds of the game.

Needless to say with all the history involved between these two teams, it creates plenty of storylines that even Colts head coach Tony Dungy knows will likely accompany the outcome of the game.

"It's our opener and we're trying to get off to a good start," Dungy told the Indianapolis Star recently. "Whoever wins on Thursday probably will be anointed for two days as the team to beat."

Five Yard Rule On Display

One area that will likely be watched Thursday night will be how the officials treat the defensive backs as they look to enforce the five-yard contact rule this season. The Colts were reportedly among several teams who complained about the physical play of the Patriots defensive backfield, but Belichick feels that it should be a problem for both teams.

"[The penalty] has been called a few times on us and it has been called a few times on our opponents,” Belichick told the media on Sunday. "It should be called the same way for both teams on both sides of the ball.”

"If they hit them beyond five yards, I'm sure they are going to get called.”

The Last Time - Tune In

For fans who would like to "break down film" of the last meeting between these two teams, NFL Network will be rebroadcasting the Patriots and Colts AFC Championship match-up on Tuesday night at 9pm. Earlier that evening at 5:30pm they'll also be airing the 2003 highlights from last season as well.