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 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes to Anthony Gonzalez, and the Indianapolis Colts led the New England Patriots 15-12 at the end of the third quarter Sunday night.
The Colts led 7-6 at halftime, but the Patriots opened the second half with their third time-consuming scoring drive of the game. New England went 72 yards in 15 plays, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis capped the possession with a 6-yard touchdown run that gave the Patriots a 12-7 lead. Kevin Faulk was stopped short on the 2-point conversion try.
Indianapolis' Pierre Garcon returned the kickoff 39 yards to the Colts' 43. That eventually led to Manning's 9-yard touchdown connection with Gonzalez on third-and-goal. The Colts went for a 2-point conversion, and Reggie Wayne held onto the ball after a hard hit by Brandon Meriweather to give Indianapolis a 15-12 lead with 3:18 left in the third quarter.
Gonzalez' first scoring catch, a 12-yarder with 2:22 left in the first quarter capped a 15-play, 91-yard drive that took 9:02 off the clock. Manning completed 7 of 8 passes for 69 yards on the Colts' longest possession of the season in plays, yardage and time consumed.
New England dominated the second quarter, but couldn't finish two long drives.
Stephen Gostkowski made a 29-yard field goal with 10:20 left in the second quarter to cut Indianapolis' lead to 7-3. The 13-play, 56-yard drive took nearly seven minutes off the clock. Gostkowski made a 35-yard field goal with 1:27 left in the half to cut the Colts' lead to 7-6. That concluded a 13-play, 61-yard drive that took just over six minutes.
d the half.
New England's top receivers were held in check in the first half. Randy Moss wasn't even targeted in the first half, and Wes Welker caught two passes for three yards.
The rivals have met in two of the last five conference championship games, most recently in 2007, when the Colts won 38-34.
The Colts gave the Patriots one of their toughest tests during their unbeaten regular season last year. New England prevailed, 24-20, last November in a battle of undefeated teams.
This season, Indianapolis (3-4) had lost two straight and is trying to get back into the playoff hunt. New England (5-2) had won two straight.
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