Early in Peyton Manning’s career, the New England Patriots had a stranglehold on the Colts.

The Patriots beat the Colts six consecutive times, with several of those wins coming in convincing fashion.

Timely turnovers was the key ingredient to the Colts' victory Sunday, but the focus has been on Hoodie.

An unknown Tom Brady led the Patriots to two regular-season victories over the Colts in 2001 by a combined score of 82-30.

And who could forget the Colts’ ugly playoff losses in Foxborough following the 2004 and 2005 seasons? In those games, Manning tossed just one touchdown pass to five interceptions as the Colts put up a combined 17 points.

But enough with the past, this series is owned by the Colts of late.

With their miraculous 35-34 victory over the Patriots Sunday the Colts have now defeated the Patriots in five of the last six meetings, including their AFC Championship victory in 2007.

Speaking of Sunday’s victory, isn’t it amazing how the masses get fixated on one play – the infamous Belichick fourth-and-2 call? I’ve yet to hear anyone mention one of the game’s biggest plays – Phillip Wheeler’s strip of Laurence Maroney at the goal line late in the third quarter.

But I digress. The Colts have taken grip of this rivalry lately, but the Patriots still hold the edge.

Since 2000, the Patriots are 8-6 overall against the Colts, and 2-1 in playoff meetings. Fittingly, the winner of those playoff showdowns has gone on to win the Super Bowl each time.

So is it the rivalry of the decade, as NBC told you every 30 seconds Sunday? Sure, why not. No other ones come to mind for me.

Every time the Colts and Patriots face off something is on the line, whether it is homefield advantage or playoff survival.

The last five times these two teams met, the game was decided by one score or less. In each of those contests, the losing team had a chance to win in the game’s final moments.

It seems inevitable these two teams will meet again. The Colts hold a four-game division lead, the Patriots a two-game division lead – and it would be hard to imagine either team not holding on.

A rematch would be interesting.

The Colts’ secondary isn’t going to get much healthier – Kelvin Hayden should at least return – and the Patriots’ passing game isn’t going to get any worse.

Then again, Manning’s young receiving corps should improve by playoff time and Ty Law isn’t walking through that door.

One thing is certain, should there be a Colts/Pats rematch prepare to hear about Belichick’s fourth-down call approximately 1,255 more times.