Photo: AP Photo/Darron Cummings
With all the accolades I'm throwing at Jacksonville, you'd think they won the game. But, they didn't, and the reason they didn't was Peyton Manning.
- Jags dominated running the ball, but that was negated because the Colts dominated on third down. Twice on third and long plays, Peyton Manning hit his receivers for big TD plays; one to Reggie Wayne (8 catches, 158 yards, 1 TD) and one to Dallas Clark (6 catches, 60 yards, 2 TDs). Manning made one bad throw all game, which resulted in a Reggie Nelson INT. If not for that INT, the Colts might have won by double digits. Just like the game earlier this season in Jacksonville, Manning was surgical, carving up Jacksonville's secondary.
- Two constants with the Jags: Their coach will make a stupid decision in-game, and the Jags will commit a bad penalty that will affect the outcome of the game. I agree with Terry, who stated in the comments that the play of the game was a personal foul penalty on WR Reggie Williams when the Jags were knocking on the door for a potential game tying TD. That penalty, and a 5 yard false start, backed the Jags up 20 yards. Garrard was then sacked on third down. Jags settle for a FG. The other constant was Jags coach Jack Del Rio mishandling his timeouts at the end of the game. Had Del Rio held onto one time out after the two minute warning, the Colts would have had to make three first downs to run out the clock rather than just two.
- The defense was just bad: Sloppy tackling, bad angles, and confusion. Part of it was Jacksonville, a very solid football team. The other part might be re-inserting Tyjuan Hagler as the SAM backer. These kinds of plays were not happening with Rocky Boiman as the SAM. I'm not saying it's Hagler's fault, but if we start to see a trend, Dungy might want to re-consider benching Boiman.
The win secures the 6th straight season of at least 10 wins, all 6 under Tony Dungy. It also, likely, secures the 5th straight AFC South title for Indy. Despite all of Jacksonville's talk about making "a statement," they lose... again. The Colts have dominated the always chirpy Jags in the AFC South. However, it is very possible these two teams will meet in the playoffs. The Jags have a very good team, but per usual the Colts do what is needed to win.
So, 10-2 despite so many injuries it hurts my brain to think about it. Despite the injuries and all the adversity, this team continues to gut it out and win close games. Go Colts!