The difference between the 2009 Patriots and 2010 Patriots was again clearly on display yesterday. While last year’s club simply could not close out games, this year’s version has shown the ability to make that one big play and hold on for the win.

Yesterday, it seemed like a complete repeat of last season’s Patriots/Colts game, as New England  held a 31-14 fourth quarter lead, only to seem Peyton Manning lead two touchdown drives to pull to within 3 at 31-28. Then, with the Colts already in range of a tying field goal, Peyton Manning was picked off by James Sanders with 37 seconds left to end the Indianapolis drive, and the game. Afterward, Manning said that this game felt more like this game instead of last season’s game, probably because of the end result.

A lot of people will be talking about the Patriots defense, which as noted by CBS yesterday is statistically the worst in franchise history in many categories, but they picked off Manning three times yesterday, the last of which sealed the game. They did just enough.

There’s a ton of coverage out there, let’s get to the best:

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Patriots-Colts never disappoints – Christopher Price lines up what we should take away from the game yesterday. Tom E. Curran has five thoughts.

Patriots defense bends, but comes up big in clutch – Karen Guregian says that there’s also something to be said for finding a way through the highwire act, and making plays that ultimately get the job done. Monique Walker has the Patriots defense saving their best for last. Brian MacPherson has the young secondary playing beyond its years. He also has Ryan Westmoreland attending the game.

James Sanders’ adjustment pays off – Mike Reiss has the veteran safety reading the situation that led to his game-sealing interception.

Belichick has Pats edging closer to utopia – Bill Burt notes that the last two weeks have looked a lot like January of 2005.

Poor Decision By Peyton To Get Greedy – Jeff Jacobs says that Manning pulled a Brett Favre yesterday.

Pats survive the siege – Ron Borges has James Sanders knowing that Manning would want one more shot at victory, something perhaps his younger teammates wouldn’t realize.

Rivalry once again meets expectations – Rich Garven says that it is time to start believing the hype.

Precise offense a sight to behold – Greg A Bedard says that if you get past the final 10 minutes of yesterday’s game, you’ll see that the Patriots offense has been dominant in the last two games. Michael Felger would’ve blamed the offense if the Patriots had lost this game.

Patriots keep on winning – Tim Weisberg says that it’s getting harder and harder to come up with grand explanations as to why the 8-2 New England Patriots just keep on winning.

Where have we seen these Pats before? – Rich Levine says that while there comparisons to 2001 here, (polarizing midseason decision, lack of star power, unproven defense) this is a different situation because of history.

Woodhead shows versatility – Monique Walker’s notebook has the diminutive back with another big outing. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has more on Sanders’ pick. The ProJo notebook has Dan Connolly making big plays in the running game. The two-minute drill from Hector Longo covers a lot of ground, including the obligatory Jerod Mayo-bashing. The notebook from Glen Farley has more on Woodhead, while the Sun Chronicle notebook from Peter Gobis leads with the secondary play. The Herald has the best and worst from yesterday.

Here is Peter King’s follow up this morning to his Friday item about the Colts thinking that the Gillette locker room was bugged:

I think, just to make it clear from my Friday item on Peyton Manning and Tom Moore holding substantive conversations outside the locker room the last time they played in Foxboro, I don’t believe there’s any way the Gillette Stadium locker room was bugged. I just think in this hugely intense rivalry, the paranoia antennae are raised pretty high whenever they play.

I think, because he felt the need to clarify today, it means he realizes he was dumb to include it in the first place.

Read more:

The Celtics lost their second-straight game, falling to the Toronto Raptors 102-101, despite having held a three point lead with 20 seconds left.

Losses expose veteran traits – Gary Washburn notes that once again, athletic teams give the Celtics fits.

Back-to-back beatings – Mark Murphy has poor defense leading to the Celtics demise.

Bad trend continues for Celtics – Paul Flannery has another laid-back first half doing in the Celtics.

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