Authored by Andrew Perna - 24th January, 2010 - 2:40 pm
Stay tuned to RealGM throughout the afternoon as Deputy Editor Andrew Perna blogs through the AFC Championship Game between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
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2:38PM EST - In my humble opinion, the AFC Title Game has more intriguing storylines than the NFC's tilt. Like a majority of the nation, aside from Bristol, Conn. (home of the Worldwide Leader), I'm tired of Brett Favre and his race against the clock and towards either retirement or another comeback.
The matchup between the red-hot Jets, who are playing with house money, and the Colts, who are where many expected them to be months ago, is a more entertaining one.
3:05PM - Finally, after a week of waiting the kickoff is here. For what it's worth, I'm picking the Colts over the Jets by a score of 24-13.
3:09PM - Impressive first series for the New York defense. After a first-play, first down, on a pass from Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne (who wasn't covered by Mr. Revis) the Jets sack the NFL's MVP to force a punt.
3:13PM - With Robert Mathis a fraction of a second away from forcing a fumble by Mark Sanchez, the rookie quarterback connects with Jerricho Cotchery for an amazing 14-yard gain. The game is just five minutes old, but the momentum appears to be in the Jets' corner.
3:17PM - The Jets are going to have to beat the Colts through the air. Indianapolis is daring Sanchez to beat them as they sniff out back-to-back runs with their lightning-quick defense.
3:18PM - Jay Feely does his best Nate Kaeding impression and boots a kick to the right. Just like that we're already witnessed one huge momentum shift.
3:22PM - If the Colts are going to force the Jets to throw the ball, the Jets appear focused on forcing the Colts to run the ball. A sack, decent run and a deflected pass leads to a rare three-and-out by Indianapolis.
3:27PM - This first quarter is going to be all about field position as the Jets punt after three plays and pin the Colts down at their own 11-yard line. You have to figure that Peyton needs just a few more plays to figure out exactly what Rex Ryan's crew is bringing at him.
3:31PM - Joseph Addai is being taken to the locker room with an undisclosed injury, but the Colts don't look any worse for the wear. A connection between Manning and Dallas Clark, a dash by rookie Donald Brown and a catch by Pierre Garcon, followed by a hurdle over a New York defender, has Indianapolis across midfield. They've accumulated 44 yards on three plays.
3:33PM - Lito Sheppard gets beat by Garcon, who makes a beautiful turning 36-yard catch. The Colts have the Jets on their heels as the road team calls a timeout. I'd be surprised if Sheppard, who was rumored to be benched prior to the game, makes it off the sideline again in the first half (assuming Donald Strickland is able to return).
3:38PM - The Colts tried to beat a blitz with a screen pass to Garcon, but the Jets sniffed it out and the first quarter ends with Matt Stover ready to try and put Indianapolis on the board first.
End of First Quarter: Jets 0, Colts 0
3:42PM - Just four ticks into the second period, Stover gives the Colts a 3-0 lead with a 25-yard field goal. All we can ask is that this game isn't decided by poor kicking.
3:45PM - Braylon Edwards fools the Indianapolis secondary as Sanchez throws a beautiful pass to give the Jets a 7-3 lead over the Colts on an 80-yard touchdown strike, New York's longest of the season. After a scoreless first quarter, 10 points have been scored in 15 seconds.
3:52PM - Austin Collie drops a sure first-down, but the Jets have too many men on the field on third down to give the Colts new life. Manning doesn't waste time, thanking the Jets for the complementary first down by hitting Wayne for 25 yards.
3:58PM - Addai returns to run for 18 yards on three plays and Manning finds Collie on third-and-short to get the ball inside the 5-yard line. Peyton is completing almost every pass not thrown in the direction of Revis.
4:00PM - Collie reaches out to try and get into the end zone, but the officials say he's short. On third-and-goal, the Jets stuff Manning on a quarterback sneak and rookie coach Jim Caldwell will trot out Stover for another three-pointer. He connects, cutting New York's lead to 7-6.
4:06PM - Brad Smith runs a great fake and throws a 45-yard bomb to Cotchery, putting the Jets at the 12-yard line. New York is running well, but they are matching the Colts in the big-play department.
4:12PM - Mark "Manchez" takes a lick, but finds tight end Dustin Keller on a third down to give the Jets a 14-6 lead with less than five minutes left in the first half. New York will get the ball first in the third quarter, so a score to end of the half would be huge for Caldwell's Crew.
4:17PM - Addai fumbles the football on a hit by Calvin Pace, allowing Jim Leonhard to recover the football inside the 30-yard line. Just like that the Jets are knocking on the door again. The rhythm Manning and Co. had early in the quarter has vanished into thin air.
4:20PM - Indianapolis weathers the storm, limiting the Jets to a field goal by Feely. With 2:11 left, New York leads 17-6.
4:27PM - In need of a scoring drive, Manning connects with Collie on back-to-back plays, two catches for 62 yards, and the Colts have scored their first touchdown. Stover drills the extra point and the Jets lead 17-13 as 30 points have been scored in the second quarter.
4:29PM - Manning, who has perhaps the highest forehead in all of sports, looks like he's headed to the dentist's chair despite the fact that he just threw the 25th touchdown of his postseason career.
4:33PM - The Jets have had success making big plays, but Ryan is content entering halftime with a four-point lead and the ball.
End of First Half: Jets 17, Colts 13
4:48PM - How many writers can put up a shelf during halftime of an NFL game? By my count, just one.
4:52PM - The Colts bent, but they didn't break on the first possession of the second half. Feely's 52-yard field goal attempt is wide and Indianapolis is a touchdown away from the lead.
4:57PM - It's becoming clear that Collie is Manning's top target this week. The rookie receiver catches a 7-yard pass for a first down, giving him six receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown.
5:00PM - I wonder if Manning plays Call of Duty. If so, I'd bet my life savings that he's a sniper. A 4-yard connection to Garcon gives the Colts a 20-17 lead with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
5:08PM - Thomas Jones will have to carry the load for the Jets with Shonn Greene on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury. Sanchez throws a beautiful pass to Keller for a first down in Indy territory.
5:10PM - New York loses five yards to a penalty, but they have moved the ball well on this drive. The way the Colts have been clicking on offense, the Jets need to a long drive that results in at least three points.
5:13PM - Sanchez and the Jets can't put any points on the board as they punt and pin the Colts inside the 20-yard line. We've seen quite a few long drives this afternoon and an 80-yard one certainly isn't out of the question with Collie and Garcon both over the 100-yard mark.
5:19PM - New York does their job and Indianapolis punts to put the ball at the 11-yard line. This is the point in the game where Sanchez tended to make mistakes in the regular season.
End of Third Quarter: Colts 20, Jets 17
5:24PM - Cotchery makes a terrific catch to keep the Jets' drive alive, but after a run Sanchez makes his first really bad decision of the game. Trying to fight off a sack, he launches the ball across the field and is lucky it finds the ground before a defender can scoop it up.
5:29PM - The Colts get the ball back and even though there are more than 12 minutes left, you get the feeling that a touchdown might send Indianapolis to Miami.
5:31PM - The Jets were a bounce from a huge play after Wayne recovers his own fumble following a first down. A majority of New York probably needs a new pair of bloomers following Wayne's juggle.
5:34PM - Already motoring, the Colts advance the ball following a first down by Dallas Clark on a facemask penalty. They are in the red zone and well into field goal range.
5:35PM - Eli Manning looks on as his older brother hooks up with Clark for a touchdown. The Colts lead 27-17 and the Jets need to stop the bleeding quickly.
5:40PM - The Colts force a quick three-and-out as the Jets gain just five yards on the drive. The clock is ticking the New York needs a huge defensive play to claw back into the game.
5:46PM - The Jets are being physical with Garcon, but he's still catching the football. On third-and-3, Manning finds Garcon for a first down. Hopes are beginning to face in New York. Cinderella didn't live forever.
5:48PM - The Colts have as many rushing yards as the Jets. Their offense has looked dangerously dynamic.
5:51PM - Reggie Who? Garcon is over 150 yards on the afternoon as the clock ticks under four minutes.
5:55PM - On fourth-and-1, Stover comes on to kick a 21-yard field goal, pushing the Colts' lead to 30-17 with just 2:29 left in regulation.
5:59PM - The extra-large lady has spoken. Sanchez throws a pass that is tipped and intercepted by Kelvin Hayden. It wasn't the rookie's fault, but it seals the game nonetheless.
6:03PM - The Colts have scored 24 unanswered points. By 24-13 prediction wasn't quite right, but at least I picked the right team.
Caldwell saves a little face, earning a trip to Miami less than a month after he famously pulled his starters against the same Jets, which led to the team's first loss of the season.
6:08PM - It's over. The Colts beat the Jets 30-17, advancing to their first Super Bowl. I'm not alone in considering Peyton Manning the G.O.A.T., but another Lombardi trophy could convince some of his detractors.
Andrew Perna is Deputy Editor of RealGM.com. Please feel free to contact him with comments or questions via e-mail: Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com. You can also follow Andrew on Twitter: APerna7.