Colts survive encounter with Jaguars
Peyton Manning wouldn’t mind a stress-free second half once in
But his Indianapolis Colts keep on winning … and winning
… and winning.
The ninth and final lead change of the game — with 5
minutes, 23 seconds remaining — gave the Colts an NFL-record
23 consecutive regular-season victories and kept Indy unbeaten this
“That just means we’re screwing up enough early to have
to come back,” said Peyton Manning, who completed his first
13 passes and finished 23-of-30 for 308 yards and four touchdowns.
It marked his 21st four-TD pass game as a pro, tying him for second
with Dan Marino on the all-time NFL list.
“There is no panic. I will say that. Guys are saying, ‘here’s
what we have to do … let’s go do it. But I don’t like not being
able to put the game away when we have the chance.”
Manning connected with Reggie Wayne for a 65-yard touchdown
pass with less than six minutes to play, to beat the playoff-hungry
Jacksonville Jaguars, 35-31. Colts coach Jim Caldwell called the
game “an old-fashioned shootout at the OK Corral” in front of a
season-high 63,753 at the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
There are still two regular-season games to be played in the
Colts’ (14-0) dual quest with the Saints (13-0) to match New
England’s 16-0 regular-season record of 2007, but the victory gave
the Colts one NFL record: they’ve rallied seven times from
fourth-quarter deficits to win.
The victory on a short week gives the Colts 10 days before
playing the New York Jets at home Dec. 27. It’s also plenty
of time for debate — about being unbeaten and the merits of
resting players — to unfold, since the AFC South was clinched
“This is not a lobbying setup,” Manning said. “We don’t have
one guy in the locker room who doesn’t want to play. But whatever
Coach Caldwell says, we will follow.”
Immediately after the victory, Caldwell wasn’t ready to
discuss a strategy for the Jets game.
“Right now, we’re going to enjoy this victory,” he said.
“We’ve got three days off and we’ll deal with next week, next
Said Manning: “It’s disrespectful to the team you’re
playing next to be talking about anything but playing that
Wayne, who caught five passes for 132 yards (his sixth
100-yard receiving game in his last seven meetings with the
Jaguars), is less concerned with the process than the outcome.
“This is who we are,” Wayne said. “We’re built for 60
minutes. It won’t be pretty all the time but we’re getting it
It wasn’t pretty at times against the Jaguars, and it
certainly wasn’t easy, as the home team pushed the Colts to the
edge out of sheer desperation. Jacksonville needed to win the game
to have a reasonable chance at an AFC wild-card berth, but now has
to win out on the road against New England and Cleveland and hope
for some help along the way to play January football.
After the Jaguars took an early 3-0 lead, and Manning
followed with a 6-yard TD pass to Dallas Clark (seven receptions,
95 yards), the teams traded touchdowns.
The Jaguars had their usual problems in producing a pass rush
that would muss a hair on Manning’s head, but the Colts, with
defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis seeing limited
action, had their own problems against quarterback David Garrard
(23-of-40 for 223 yards and three touchdowns) and RB Maurice
Jones-Drew (110 yards rushing and a TD running and receiving).
“A whale of a football game,” said Jaguars coach Jack Del
Rio, who has lost two games to the Colts this season by a combined
six points. “Both teams spent it all. They emptied their buckets
Garrard, maligned most of the season for his tendency to
fumble and take needless sacks, didn’t lay the ball on the ground
and was nailed behind the line twice. He used nine receivers and
for a time, the vocal fans who finally flocked to the stadium for
the team’s final home game, thought his 13-yard TD pass to Mike
Sims-Walker early in the fourth quarter for a 31-28 lead might
But Manning connected with Wayne on the next possession,
after Wayne slipped rookie cornerback Derek Cox and beat the
lunging tackle attempt of safety Reggie Nelson, who arrived to help
a step too late.
“It actually was pretty good coverage by the Jaguars,”
Manning said. “The corners were squatting a little and Reggie
(Wayne) saw there was something downfield. He’s a great team
player. His presence dictates a lot of what the other team does. It
opens stuff up for other guys. But he wants the ball because he
thinks it will help us win.”