A quote from Michael Felger of the Boston Herald:<quoted text>
At full strength these teams are about as evenly matched as 2 teams can be. The rest of the league is miles behind these 2. It's a shame these teams can't meet in the SB. Maybe it's time to consider a seeding system so the 2 truly best teams will play in the final every year.
The differences between the Colts and Patriots on Sunday were so few and far between it takes a magnifying glass to find them on the stat sheet.
There were, really, only three that stood out:
1. The Pats scored touchdowns in the red zone on 3-of-4 trips. The Colts were only 1-of-3. 2. The Pats dominated the return game, gaining 182 yards on punts and kickoffs, compared to just 57 yards for Indianapolis.
3. The Pats had a tougher time with the officials, taking 10 penalties for a franchise record 146 yards, compared to just four flags for 25 yards for Indy.
Otherwise, it was split right down the middle. Consider:
The Colts had 23 first downs; the Pats had 21. The Pats had 342 total yards; the Colts had 329. The Pats converted 7-of-12 third-down plays; the Colts were 5-of-12. The Pats ran 62 offensive plays; the Colts ran 61.
Here’s where it gets weird: Both teams averaged exactly 7 yards per pass play. Both averaged 3.8 yards per rushing attempt. Each team had three punts. Each team had two turnovers.
If you are a Pats homer/fan boy, you can say shoddy officiating made the game as close as it was. You can claim that without the touch fouls, the Pats win comfortably. If you’re a Colts chronic, you can point to injuries as being the difference. You can claim with Marvin Harrison, starting left tackle Tony Ugoh and two starting linebackers back in the fold, the game probably belongs to the Colts.
If you’re objective, you can say that the affairs have simply become too close to call."