The Patriots improved to 16-2 by winning their 14th straight game 24-14 over the Indianapolis Colts. The winning streak is the best single-season streak since the perfect Miami Dolphins did it in 1972.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.”To win 14th in a row is great,” New England quarterback Tom Brady said in a post-game interview. “But it means nothing if you don’t get the fifteenth.”The Patriots hope to make the Carolina Panthers their next victim in this Sunday’s Super Bowl in Houston, Texas.The Patriots reached the Super Bowl by harassing the previously unflappable Peyton Manning, who had thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions in his two previous playoff games. Patriot cornerback Ty Law picked off the hapless Colts quarterback three times, and Rodney Harrison intercepted yet another pass as the Pats punched a ticket to their second Super Bowl in three seasons. Defensive end Jarvis Green scrapped for three of New England’s four sacks, as the constant pressure forced NFL co-MVP Manning into quickly making bad decisions. “To go out and pick, pick, pick a guy that everybody was building up – It was huge for us,” Harrison said in a post-game interview, referring to Manning, who was near– flawless in dominant playoff wins over Denver and Kansas City.Las Vegas odds-makers have installed New England as a seven-point favorite. However, a look at New England’s season reveals a fact that does not portend well for the Pats – the Patriots have not played as well away from Foxboro as they have at home. Both of the Pat’s losses have come on the road to Philadelphia and Washington. Although the Patriots give up an average of 14.8 points per game – lowest in the league – that number increases to 21.3 points allowed per game in contests played on the road. In two home playoff games this postseason, the Pats have allowed only 14 points per contest. In one home and two road playoff games this year, the Panthers have surrendered 13 points per game.Those facts and the two teams’ penchant for gutting out close wins suggest that this Super Bowl could be a record-setting affair – the record for lowest point total in Super Bowl history just might be in jeopardy. Although Carolina is the underdog, they do have certain factors working to their advantage.They play the role of underdog this weekend, and they will be looking to prove to everyone that they are deserving of a Super Bowl championship. Tipton can be reached at rtipton@campustimes.org.



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