With the Colts clinging to a 15-10 lead in the third quarter, the Colts made the decision to pull All-Universe quarterback Peyton Manning and many of the team's other starters in favor of backups. Rookie QB Curtis Painter was charged with protecting the slim lead.
After a three-and-out on the first series, disaster struck on the first play of Painter's second drive at the Colts' 20. The Jets' Calvin Pace knocked the ball from Painter's hands, Tom Santi couldn't recover the loose ball, and New York's Marques Douglas recovered the fumble for a touchdown. After a two-point pass from Mark Sanchez to Dustin Keller, the Jets held a 18-15 lead with one minute, 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Colts went three-and-out on the next two series, as well, and the Jets added a Jay Feeley field goal and a long drive, capped by a touchdown and two-point play for a 29-15 lead. The Painter-led Colts wouldn't score again.
Perfect season over.
NFL-record winning streak over.
Fans' four-month lovefest with the 2009 Indianapolis Colts over.
The fans at Lucas Oil Stadium lustily booed the decision to remove the starters, particularly Manning, from the game. And when Painter and Co. failed to hold the fort, the frustration at seeing a perfect season slip away was apparent among both players and fans.
The Colts built a lead with a first-quarter TD on a scintillating, 21-yard run from Joseph Addai, but the extra point was blocked. Adam Vinatieri, in his first action in 10 games, added a second-quarter field goal, and Donald Brown, in his first action in four games, added the Colts final touchdown in the third quarter.
Manning completed 14-of-21 passes for 192 yards in just over two quarters of action. Addai had just six carries, but led the team with 40 yards. Brown managed just 22 yards on 16 totes.
Austin Collie caught six passes for 92 yards to lead the team. Dallas Clark had four catches for 57 yards, and Reggie Wayne had three receptions for 33 yards, but both Clark and Wayne dropped what looked like sure touchdown passes in the second quarter, which could have given the Colts a commanding lead by halftime and made an unpopular decision much easier for the team and its fans to swallow.
The Colts finish the regular season with a trip to Buffalo next week. The Jets can clinch a playoff berth with a win at home against the Cincinnati Bengals next week.
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