The moment New England Patriot fans have been waiting for finally arrived Sunday.
Doug Flutie came off the bench at the start of the fourth quarter and sparked a 14-point rally, including a winning 13-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds to play to lead the New England Patriots past the Indianapolis Colts, 21-17.
The Colts had just taken a 17-14 lead when rookie quarterback Chris Chandler (14 of 26, 172 yards) hit receiver Bill Brooks on a 48-yard touchdown pass play with 2:23 remaining.
The winning 80-yard scoring drive brought back memories to area fans and Flutie, who won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year at Boston College.
"I went on the field and said to myself, 'Here we go again,' " said Flutie, who was know for exciting finishes as a collegian.
It took 8 plays to put the ball on the Colts' 13-yard line. The Patriots (2-3) took their last time out, and Flutie headed for the sidelines to confer with Coach Raymond Berry and injured Steve Grogan, who was replaced by Tom Ramsey as New England's starting quarterback.
"I said, 'I may be crazy, but what about the boot?' " Flutie said of a possible fake handoff. "But he (Berry) and Steve had already talked about the play. Steve and I were on the same wave length. I took it and ran for the corner."
Flutie faked the ball to John Stephens, circled left and beat Colt linebacker Duane Bickett to the left corner of the end zone.
Flutie took over for Ramsey at the start of the fourth quarter, after Ramsey (8 of 19 for 77 yards) could only generate a first-half touchdown.
"I went to Doug because we were dragging a little bit," Berry said. "I feel confident in him that he could get the job done."
Flutie (12 of 16 for 132 yards) needed a little more than 4 minutes to move the Patriots 70 yards in 6 plays, ending with a 26-yard scoring pass to Stanley Morgan. The two hooked up on a 27-yard pass earlier in the drive.
But Flutie's winning run haunted Colt Coach Ron Meyer.
"The 80-yard drive to beat us was a killer," said Meyer, whose team dropped to 1-4. "I said before the game that the team that lost would be in difficult shape. But it doesn't mean we're dead. We just have to play hard against the Bills next week."
After the Patriots moved ahead, 14-7, the Colts nearly ruined Flutie's first appearance of the season on the next New England series.
Chris Goode intercepted Flutie's pass and returned it 18 yards to the Patriot 20. But the Colts settled for a 20-yard field goal by Dean Biasucci, making the score 14-10.
NFL rushing leader Eric Dickerson ran for 118 yards in 29 carries and a touchdown. It was the fourth time he ran for more than 100 yards this season and the 48th time in his career, third all-time behind Walter Payton and Jim Brown.
"I seem to have a good day individually against them," Dickerson said. "But I never seem to be able to win games against them."
Dickerson had 93 yards in the first half, 43 of which came during the Colts' scoring drive, which tied the score, 7-7. It was Indianapolis' only time over the 50-yard line in the first 30 minutes.
The Patriots took a 7-0 lead on the first possession of the second quarter on a 1-yard dive by Robert Perryman. That culminated an 81-yard drive.
Neither team generated much offense in the first quarter, though the Patriots threatened late.
Following Rohn Stark's 59-yard punt and Fryar's 11-yard return, New England moved from its own 37 to the Colts' 14 with 1:06 to play. But Teddy Garcia's 31-yard field goal attempt went wide left.