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Throwback Thursday: Beginning of the AFC South

The Colts head down to Jacksonville this Sunday for one of the more heated AFC South rivalries. Today's Throwback Thursday will jump back to the first divisional meeting between the two.

Marc Serota

[Editor's Note: Please welcome Ben Lamers to the site as a contributor.  Give him a warm welcome.  - Josh]

Welcome to the first (hopefully of many) Throwback Thursday post on StampedeBlue. Each week I'll be throwing it back somewhere into Colts history.

For this first post, I was really hoping to find something of great importance that happened on September 18. Turns out, this day is a fairly dull one in Colts history. Instead, this Thursday we'll be throwing it back to the first time the Colts and Jaguars met as members of the AFC South, although they had met twice previously in separate divisions. The Colts won both games.

As I'm sure many of you are aware, the AFC South was a brand-new division in 2002 and it was a patchwork of teams that didn't fit anywhere else. The Jaguars and Titans had come from the crowded AFC Central, but frankly these teams didn't really fit in with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, and the Cleveland Browns.

The Colts, of course, were coming from the AFC East where they had a somewhat established rivalry, in my opinion at least, with the Miami Dolphins. Keep in mind there wasn't the same hatred between the Colts and the New England Patriots at this point in time.

And the final member of the division was the newest franchise in the league: the Houston Texans. Houston had been awarded a team in order to even out the NFL at 32 teams, after the new-Browns had brought the NFL up to 31 teams.

On September 8, 2002, the first week of the 2002 season, the Colts and Jaguars played at Alltel Stadium for the first time as division rivals, and only the third time ever.

This was also a marquee game for the Colts. It was their first in a new division, Edgerrin James was returning from blowing out his knee the year before, Dwight Freeney made his NFL debut, and it was Tony Dungy's first game as the Colts' Head Coach.

In a nutshell, this was a typical Colts-Jaguars tilt in the early 2000s. It was a close game that saw Peyton Manning throw three touchdowns (two to Qadry Ismail) and no interceptions. The game also saw the Colts defense give up over 300 yards, including over 100 to Jaguars' receiver Jimmy Smith.

The Colts were never ahead by more than 10 points, as Mark Brunell kept Jacksonville close all game. After the Jaguars pulled within three points with four minutes left, the Colts had an opportunity to run out the clock, but were unable to do so.

The Jaguars got the ball back with a little over a minute to play. The closest Jacksonville could get, though, was the Colts' 46 yard-line and a failed Brunell Hail Mary was the final play of the game.

Is there any doubt that, if this game happened any time after 2004, Josh Scobee would have come out and somehow drilled a game-tying 63-yard kick?

The Colts would go on to finish 10-6 and qualify for the playoffs as a Wild Card team (and play a game most of us would like to forget). The Jaguars ended up finishing 6-10.

Finally I just want to leave you all with the lead of ESPN's recap of the game:

"The Jacksonville Jaguars saw what their future will be like in the new AFC South -- lots of Peyton Manning, and lots of frustration trying to stop him."