Colts Hang On In Opener, 14-12

The Colts weren't exactly a well-oiled machine Sunday, but it's never easy when Indianapolis tangles with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The defense made plays at the right times as the Colts prevailed, 14-12, to take an early one-game lead in the AFC South.

With Tennessee's overtime loss to Pittsburgh in Thursday's opener, the Colts' win over the Jaguars, and Houston's loss to the New York Jets, Indianapolis was the only AFC South squad to win in the NFL's opening week.

It was a struggle from the get-go for Indianapolis, however. Turnovers — an end-zone interception and a Joseph Addai fumble — sabotaged the team's first two drives of the season. Jacksonville grabbed an early 3-0 lead on a Josh Scobee field goal midway through the second quarter.

Freeney and the defense held the Jaguars in check
AP Photo/Tom Strattman

The Colts responded with an 11-play, 76-yard drive, highlighted by a 39-yard pass from Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne and capped by a Joseph Addai touchdown run.

The Jaguars were able to drive for another field goal before the quarter ended, but the Colts held a 7-6 lead at the halfway point. They added to their lead on their first possession of the second half, as Manning found Wayne for a 35-yard touchdown strike to make it 14-6.

The two teams played to a stalemate for the rest of the quarter before Jacksonville found the endzone early in the fourth. A two- point conversion try to tie the game failed, however, and the Colts kept the lead — one that the defense and special teams were able to make hold up with some fine play in the final stanza.

A punt from rookie Pat McAfee, which long-snapper Justin Snow was able to jump high and tip back over the goal-line, buried the Jacksonville offense at their own one-yard line with 6:55 left.

The defense forced a three-and-out, but the Indianapolis offense wasn't able to run out the clock, giving the ball back after a failed fourth-down as the clock hit two minutes.

However, the defense was able to pressure Jaguars quarterback David Garrard into a short completion, then three straight incompletes to end the Jaguars' hopes. When the offense got the ball back this time, they were able to kneel on it and run out the clock.

Despite the early interception, Manning ended with a fine performance, completing 28-of-38 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown for a 94.3 passer rating. Wayne caught 10 of those passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.

The running game wasn't as impressive. Addai managed just 42 yards on 17 carries, and rookie Donald Brown had 33 yards on 11 totes. In all, the Colts picked up 71 rushing yards on 31 carries — a 2.3-yard average.

The defense, however, gave up just 228 yards to the Jaguars' offense and generally held Jacksonville in check. Gary Brackett led the way with 10 total tackles and two quarterback hurries, Dwight Freeney had a sack, and Jerraud Powers and Kelvin Hayden were impressive in coverage.

The Colts did have a piece of sobering news, however, as WR Anthony Gonzalez collapsed without contact early in the game and left with an apparent knee injury. It's not known how serious the injury is.

Indianapolis travels to Miami next week for a battle with the 0-1 Dolphins on "Monday Night Football."

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