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Patriots Beat Colts, Head to Superbowl

The New England Patriots (search) didn't need snow to ruin Peyton Manning's (search) perfect postseason. Their defense did it all.

Ty Law had three interceptions, Rodney Harrison added another and forced a fumble, and the Patriots beat the Colts 24-14 to advance to their second Super Bowl in three seasons. Jarvis Green had three of the team's four sacks as the constant pressure made the NFL's co-MVP look very average.

Manning had thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Colts (search) had scored 79 points in wins over Denver and Kansas City.

But Indianapolis could never get going on Sunday. Things were so bad that when the Colts finally had to punt for the first time in the playoffs, the snap went over the punter's head and resulted in a safety.

Tom Brady, meanwhile, was almost as good in the cold weather as Manning had been in his first two games. He finished 22-of-36 for 227 yards and a 7-yard TD pass to David Givens on the first drive of the game. He did, however, throw his first interception in 10 home games early in the fourth quarter.

The weather was far from the perfect conditions enjoyed by the Colts during their first two playoff games. A light but steady snow fell throughout the game and the temperature was right around freezing.

But it didn't bother the Patriots, who have won big games before in foul weather. They are now 16-2 and have won 14 straight games.

With the victory, coach Bill Belichick is 5-0 in the postseason with the Patriots, who won the NFL championship two years ago by beating St. Louis.

The Pats took the opening kickoff right down the field for a touchdown on the pass from Brady to Givens. It was 15-0 at the half on two of Adam Vinatieri's five field goals plus the safety on the botched punt.

The Colts (14-5) cut it 15-7 on Edgerrin James' 2-yard TD run at the start of the third quarter. But Brady led New England to two more short field goals and the defense took it from there. Indianapolis scored with 2:27 left on a 7-yard TD pass to Marcus Pollard, making it 21-14.

But Christian Fauria recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Patriots. The Colts got the ball back on downs, but the Patriots defense held them.

Vinatieri ended up kicking his fifth field goal from 34 yards with 50 seconds left.

Manning finished 23-of-47 for 237 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions.

The Patriots dominated the first half, forcing three early turnovers. Two of them stopped potential scores by the Colts and the third led to a field goal. Still, 15-0 wasn't much of a lead against a team known for coming back from big deficits.

New England went 65 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, with Brady finding a wide-open Givens from 7 yards out for the score. Brady threw for 49 yards on the drive and Givens had four catches. But the key play was a 2-yard sneak by the New England quarterback on fourth-and-1 from his own 44.

Manning seemed ready to counter, driving the Colts 68 yards to the New England 5. But on third down, Harrison stepped in front of Pollard and picked off the ball, the first interception for Manning in three postseason games.

Vinatieri's 31-yard field goal 2:16 into the second quarter made it 10-0.

Law's first interception, a one-handed over-the-shoulder grab, came on Indy's first play of the next series. New England drove 52 yards -- including another fourth-down conversion on a pass from Brady to Troy Brown -- to set up Vinatieri's 25-yarder that made it 13-0.

Then came what was supposed to be Indianapolis' first punt of the postseason. Instead, Justin Snow snapped the ball over the head of punter Hunter Smith, who had little choice but to kick it out of bounds for a safety.

Indy's best chance before intermission came after David Macklin recovered Bethel Johnson's fumble at the New England 41. But five plays later, Harrison knocked the ball loose from Marvin Harrison, Tyrone Poole fell on it, and the Patriots had the ball back.

Indy's first score came on the opening possession of the second half. The Colts drove 52 yards on 12 plays with James going in from 2 yards.

But Brady hit Larry Centers for 31 yards on the first play from scrimmage after the score and then found Brown for 17 to set up a 27-yarder by Vinatieri that made it 18-7. Brady put together another drive that set up Vinatieri's fourth field goal with 1:32 left in the third quarter.