Jets lose 38-31 in thriller

The Jets lost their seventh game of the season to the Indianapolis Colts 38-31 in a shootout that was decided on a fake field goal. The loss keeps Gang Green in last place at 3-7 and any miracle hopes of a playoff berth appear to be gone with six games left on the schedule. <BR><BR>

The Colts came into the game minus many key players including Marvin Harrison and Marcus Pollard on the offensive side of the ball. But two-thirds of Indianapolis's triplets ultimately stepped up to help Tony Dungy's squad improve to 8-2. They are in a first place tie with the Tennessee Titans whom they beat 33-7 in the second game of the season.

The trio of Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, and Harrison are usually the players counted upon to bring the Colts to victory. But with Harrison out with a hamstring injury, Manning and James had to pick up the slack if the Colts had any thoughts of staying at the top of the AFC South division. And Manning and James did just that as their contributions were a key reason why Indianapolis was able to pull it off.

Manning completed 27 of 36 passes for 401 yards and a touchdown and James had 160 yards altogether with three scores. But the team's All-Pro quarterback and runner were not the only ones who came up big. The Colts also got production from players that normally go unnoticed with stellar performances from wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Troy Walters and tight end Dallas Clark. Wayne led the team with nine receptions for 141 yards and Clark added five catches for another 100 yards. Walters hauled in Manning's lone touchdown pass and finished the day with five receptions of his own for 88 yards.

Although the Colts showed their endurance by pulling out the victory, the game was decided on a successful fake field goal resulting in a touchdown. Indianapolis appeared to be lining up for a 38-yard attempt with the score tied at 31 late in the third quarter. However, holder Hunter Smith took the snap and raced 21 yards for the winning score. The Jets were unable to put together a scoring drive to tie the game allowing the Colts to escape. It was a major relief for Dungy and company as Gang Green would not go away and fought them to the end.

"Championship teams find different ways to win," said Dungy who motivated his team by reminding them of last year's 41-0 blowout loss to the Jets that knocked them out of the playoffs. "It comes down to making plays to win games."

Gang Green was out-gained by the Colts 538 to 324 but was able to keep it close with big plays of their own. Quarterback Chad Pennington threw three touchdown passes from 28, 48, and 62 yards. They scored 21 points in the third quarter as Pennington threw two of his touchdowns passes and kick returner Jonathan Carter took back a kickoff 98 yards. It was a fight to the finish as both offenses gave the opposing defense their best shots. But the Colts were victorious as they proved to have more ammunition in their arsenal.

"In my background, being a defensive guy - I haven't been around too many games like this," Dungy said as the Jets were only the second team to score over 30 points in a game against them this season. They needed this game to get rid of the bad taste in their mouths from an upset loss the week before to Jacksonville and fortunately for them, they got it.

The Jets now find themselves in the position of spoilers for the rest of their season with their chances of making the playoffs being extremely slim. They have been competitive throughout the year against tough competition but have not been able to pull many of them out. Their remaining schedule includes games against teams fighting to get in the playoffs in division rival Miami and New England and the burning hot Tennessee Titans. But despite the Jets staying in last place for the entire season so far, opponents fighting for a playoff spot better beware and not overlook them with Pennington and the rest of team gelling together.

The Jets have a home game next week against Jacksonville in the Meadowlands. The Jaguars have a 2-8 record and are in last place themselves in the AFC South. They dropped a 10-3 decision to the Titans after upsetting the Colts last week.

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