Who would have thought this could happen?
The Jaguars defense, despite losing safety Donovin Darius with a sprained left knee in the second quarter, shut down and frustrated Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. The Colts quarterback failed to throw a touchdown pass, completed less than 50% of his passes, and finished with just 122 yards passing and one interception. Linebacker Mike Peterson picked off the Colts' stellar quarterback on the first drive of the game at the 6-yard line.
And yet the Jaguars left Indianapolis with their first loss of the season, a 10-3 heartbreaker to their division rivals.
With the teams knotted in a shutout at the half after Josh Scobee missed a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter, the Jaguars slowly moved away from what they did most successfully in the first half -- running the ball. Fred Taylor posted 66 yards rushing on 6 carries while against the Colts during the first 30 minutes, but the Jaguars showed some impatience and moved towards more of an aerial attack.
That played into the Colts' defense's hands who had sacked quarterback Byron Leftwich three times in the first half, and tacked on three more in the second half. Defensive tackle Montae Reagor did the bulk of the damage, getting credit for three of them.
While Taylor ran just five times for 15 yards in the second half, the Colts turned to Edgerrin James who had 43 yards on ten carries in the first half. James responded by bullying his way through the Jaguars defense for 75 more yards on 17 carries in the second half. He finished the day with 128 yards on 27 carries and was the Colts' top receiver 39 yards on four receptions. James set the Colts up at the Jacksonville 8-yard line with just under ten minutes left to play, leaving Ran Carthon to put the touchdown points on the board with a 6-yard run.
The Jaguars tried to respond to the 7-3 deficit from deep in their own territory with 8:20 remaining. But the Colts unleashed a furious pass rush that resulted in three consecutive sacks and almost sidelined Leftwich with an injury. The Jacksonville quarterback's leg was pulled during a sack by Raheem Brock with such force that his upper body jerked backwards. Meanwhile, more Colts slammed into him from the front side, folding him backwards over top of the immobilized leg. Leftwich rolled around on the ground, but then make his way to the sidelines with a noticeable limp.
He returned to the game after the Colts took a 10-3 lead on Mike Vanderjagt's 41-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game. And while Leftwich and the Jaguars made a courageous run at moving the ball, they came up short on the final play of the game when Bob Sanders knocked a potential touchdown catch away near the goal line.
Head coach Jack Del Rio and intended receiver Jimmy Smith thought there should have been a pass interference flag on the play as Smith and defender Nick Harper got involved in some contact that left Smith on the ground. Either the officials ruled that Smith had no chance to catch the ball since Sanders knocked it away before it reached the entangled Smith and Harper, or they felt it was incidental contact.
Smith, who had 130 yards last week, was limited to three catches on the day for 49 yards, the most yards by any Jacksonville receiver.
The Colts (2-0) not only move into sole possession of first place in the AFC South, they also hold a head-to-head tie-breaker edge over the Jaguars -- at least until the two teams meet again in Jacksonville on December 11th. The Colts host the Browns next week in Indianapolis while the Jaguars (1-1) will head to New York to take on the Jets.
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