Colts Edge Jaguars, 28-25

In a battle for AFC South supremacy, the defending Super Bowl champion Colts once again showed the Jaguars that they still are the team to beat. The Indianapolis offense led by quarterback Peyton Manning was precise, as they were only forced to punt twice and shredded the Jacksonville secondary for 279 yards through the air.

The Colts converted on 10 of 13 third-down conversions for an unbelievable 77% conversion rate, en route to their 28-25 victory.

Jaguars safety Sammy Knight talked about the Colts offense and Jaguars defense--

"We tried to mix it up on third down, to keep him guessing, but he kept outsmarting us, I guess. As a defense, that's exactly what you want, especially against that offense, to keep them in third-and-long. But we'd get them into that situation and we couldn't knock them off the field. When they needed a play on third down, they got it. When we needed a stop, we just couldn't come up with it, and that really was the biggest difference. It's disappointing, because we played pretty well in most other aspects of the game."

As well as the Colts played offensively, they needed the assistance of the team in stripes as well to help secure the victory. Indianapolis was the recipient of quite a few extremely questionable calls including an overturned Colts fumble by Ben Utecht in which the officials somehow derived that despite Utecht catching the ball, then taking two steps and fumbling, never had true possession of the football. Instead of a Jaguars recovery, the Colts scored a touchdown on the very next play with a 48-yard catch by wide receiver Reggie Wayne. In total, the Jaguars committed eight penalties for 64 yards, while Indianapolis was flagged just twice for 15 yards.

Indianapolis got started early as they forced and then recovered a David Garrard fumble on the Jacksonville 10 yard line. The Colts cashed in on that drive with a five-yard pass from Peyton Manning to Dallas Clark, his first of two touchdown receptions on the day to take a 7-0 lead. The Colts went up by two scores early in the second quarter when Manning hit Reggie Wayne on the 48-yard bomb following the ridiculous overturned fumble.

Jacksonville came back on their third possession with a 16-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that eclipsed 11 minutes and 10 seconds. The Jaguars found success on that drive mixing up their play calling, as David Garrard went 7/7 passing, for 56 yards on the drive that was capped with a short Maurice Jones-Drew two yard touchdown run to cut the Indy lead to 14-7.

The Colts answered the Jaguars drive with a 14-play, 80-yard drive of the own right before halftime. Peyton Manning hit on 7 of 8 passes on the drive for 66 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark to put the Colts up 21-7 at the half.

The second half saw more of the same from both teams. The Jaguars scored on three of their four possessions, but it wasn't enough, as the Colts scored once more, on a drive which effectively put the game away with 8:30 left to play, as Peyton Manning threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day, a one-yard shuffle pass to Luke Lawton to put the Colts up 28-17.

Offensively, the Jaguars were sharp for most of the day. They outgained Indianapolis 411-342 in total yards, 168 of which came from the Jaguars powerful rushing attack. David Garrard played another fine game as he threw for 257 yards, while completing 24 of 29 passes with two touchdowns. Garrard's errorless streak came to an end when he had a fourth-quarter pass tipped and then intercepted by Colts safety Antoine Bethea when the Jaguars were driving deep into Indianapolis territory. Despite the interception, Garrard finished with a quarterback rating of 112.2, one of his highest totals of the season.

Fred Taylor had his second consecutive 100-yard rushing performance, as he gained 104 yards on just 14 carries. Maurice Jones-Drew added 52 yards on 11 attempts including a rushing touchdown, his eighth of the season. Ernest Wilford led the Jaguars in receiving as he caught five passes for 72 yards, and Reggie Williams chipped in with four receptions for 69 yards. Marcedes Lewis caught a touchdown for the second consecutive game, and finished with five catches for 42 yards.

Peyton Manning played one of his finest games of the season for the Colts, as he completed 20 of 29 passes for 288 yards, including four touchdowns and an interception. Manning finished with a passer rating of 118.6. Reggie Wayne led all receivers with eight catches for 158 yards and a touchdown, and Dallas Clark finished with seven catches for 60 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars defense kept Colts star running back Joseph Addai in check as he finished with just 67 yards on 21 carries.

Colts tight end Dallas Clark described the play of quarterback Peyton Manning--

"It was uncanny the way Peyton (Manning) kept getting us into the right play on all of those third-down situations. On most of them, especially early on the game, he audibled or checked off to the play. And on most of them, obviously, he was right on the nose. He called a tremendous game in general, but he was especially sharp on third down. He was really unbelievable in tough situations."

Mistakes were the story of the game for the Jaguars. Jacksonville turned the ball over twice, had numerous key penalties, and missed a field goal early on. Despite the mistakes that led to the defeat, the Jaguars have a lot to feel good about. The Jaguars found an effective passing game to go along with their devastating rushing attack, and racked up more yards than the Colts. The team from Duval county controlled time of possession with a 35:45-24:15 advantage, and despite shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly, it took a poor call and a tipped ball interception for the heavily favored Colts to win against a Jaguars team that was missing four starters due to injury or suspension. The loss leaves the Jaguars with an 8-4 record and likely playing for a wildcard berth, and at the moment they hold a one-game advantage over Tennessee, which sits at 7-5.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.

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