Familiar Story for Jaguars

The Jaguars successfully blew a 17-7 halftime lead to fall just short of upsetting the Indianapolis Colts, as the team was outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter en route to a 31-24 defeat in its final home game of the year to conclude with a disappointing 2-6 home record.

Jacksonville (5-10) started off the game by looking like last season's 11-5 squad, as the team marched down the field 62 yards on its opening series to take an early 7-0 lead. During the drive, David Garrard was nearly flawless, going five-of-six including a perfectly placed ball over Dennis Northcutt's shoulder for a 28-yard score.

After the Jacksonville defense held Indianapolis (11-4) in the following series, the Jaguars received the ball on their own seven yard-line following a holding penalty on Indianapolis punt. Again, Garrard and the rest of the offense looked like an elite unit, as the team blended precision passing and a strong rushing attack to go 93 yards on a 9:35 drive that ended in a Garrard scramble for two yards to put Jacksonville up 14-0.

Maurice-Jones Drew helped in Jacksonville's offensive rejuvenation, as he led the team with 91 rushing yards on 20 carries while also grabbing seven receptions for 71 yards.

Peyton Manning, who completed his first 17 passes, then woken the Colts offense as he began to pick apart the Jaguars secondary. Manning found a wide open Reggie Wayne on a 41-yard bomb to cut the lead in half. Wayne wiggled free from Reggie Nelson, who completely blew the coverage against Wayne. On the game, Wayne finished with a game high seven receptions for 108 yards.

Jacksonville finished off an extremely inspired first half with a 44-yard Josh Scobee field goal just before halftime to give the Jags a 10 point lead at 17-7 into intermission.

Indianapolis struck back on the first drive of the second half, as Manning continued to build on his phenomenal game while he orchestrated a 75-yard drive which resulted in another touchdown to take the game to 17-14. Manning threw his first incompletion of the game during the series but still went six-of-seven including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Rhodes.

The Jaguars responded on their first possession of the half, dinking and dunking down the field for nearly an eight minute long drive which was capped off by a two-yard Montell Owens run. Maurice Jones-Drew proved to be a workhorse for the Jaguars on the series, pounding the ball up the middle play after play against the undersized Indianapolis defense.

After taking a 24-14 lead, Garrard's brilliance wore off and Jacksonville's defense became stagnant, as the unit could not cover the Wayne and Clark combination.

In the fourth quarter, Manning again led the Colts down the field and found tight end Dallas Clark for a one-yard touchdown to take the game within three points, at 24-21.

Manning completed a brilliant game during the team's next season by moving the ball down field to set up a 45-yard field goal for Adam Vinatieri, which he nailed to redeem himself after missing a chip-shot in the first half. Vinatieri's field goal tied the game at 24 with over six minutes left.

While Manning finished 29-of-34 for 364 yards and three touchdowns, he was not the only hero of the game for Indianapolis.

Trying to recapture his first half magic, Garrard and the Jaguars took over on offense, but after two Jones-Drew rushes, Garrard misfired on a pass that was intercepted by Colts safety Keiwan Ratliff, who took the ball back to the house which gave the Colts a 31-24 lead.

With one final chance for redemption, Garrard, who finished with 329 passing yards, made several key passes to take the Jaguars into Colts' territory. With no timeouts remaining at Indianapolis' 17, Garrard found Jones-Drew for 10 yards with 48 tics left. However, Jones-Drew was injured on the play and the Jaguars suffered a 10-second runoff to take the clock down to 19 seconds.

Garrard threw one incompletion to a wide open Reggie Williams, and then with 12 seconds remaining, Garrard was sacked by Dwight Freeney to end the game.

"We had our opportunity; you can't take a sack on the last play there, unless the clock runs out," said Jack Del Rio. "The ball has to be thrown in the end zone, so you have a shot for it to be completed or incomplete. You have to get it out there."

It was a similar story of not enough big plays for the Jaguars as their forgettable season dredged on with a familiar close loss. The Colts have now defeated the Jaguars in 12 of their 16 meetings, and the Jaguars spoiled an opportunity for their first ever sweep of Indianapolis. Jacksonville closes their regular season next Sunday as they travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.


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