On a day for good-byes, Maurice Jones-Drew couldn't have imagined a more fitting one.
Jones-Drew, the Jaguars' three-time Pro Bowl running back, rushed for a season-high 169 yards Sunday afternoon, a record-setting effort that defined a 19-13 victory for the Jaguars (5-11) over the Indianapolis Colts (2-14) on a sun-splashed New Year's Day Sunday at EverBank Field.
Even when it was over, it wasn't over.
Moments after the gun sounded on Wayne and Delores Weaver's final game as Jaguars owners, coaches and players remained on the field. Some who had headed for the locker room returned.
As a group, they circled the field.
Players shook hands with fans. Fans shook hands with players.
Each group thanked the other, and on an afternoon when Jones-Drew not only clinched his first NFL rushing title, but also broke Fred Taylor's franchise single-season rushing record, he said there couldn't have been a more fitting ending scene.
"Coach (Mel) Tucker wanted to give thanks to all the fans for coming out," Jones-Drew said after the Jaguars took a 10-3 halftime lead and never let the Colts get closer than four throughout the second half.
"It was Mr. and Mrs. Weaver's last game and that's very important. For those fans that come out and show the support, even when there's nothing else on the line. That's big.
"We just wanted to tell them thank you for sticking with us throughout this tough season."
The Jaguars honored the Weavers, the owners since the team's 1993 inception, by placing them in the Pride of the Jaguars at halftime in an emotional ceremony. Shahid Khan will take over as Jaguars owner Wednesday.
Before and after halftime, the Jaguars' main storyline was a familiar one.
Jones-Drew, who entered the game leading the NFL in rushing, essentially clinched that title when the Philadelphia Eagles deactivated LeSean McCoy before their game. Jones-Drew led McCoy by 128 yards entering the game, so whatever slim chance there was Jones-Drew wouldn't win his first rushing title ended before kickoff.
Not that Jones-Drew eased into anything Sunday. Not even close.
Jones-Drew, a six-year veteran who underwent off-season knee surgery and started all 16 games this season, started strong Sunday and finished stronger.
He rushed 84 yards on 16 first-half carries, averaging 5.3 yards a carry, and by halftime he was 52 yards from breaking Fred Taylor's franchise record for rushing yards in a single season. Taylor rushed for 1,572 yards, and at halftime Jones-Drew had 1,521.
Jones-Drew passed Taylor in fitting fashion.
The Jaguars, who had taken a 10-3 halftime lead with a 23-yard first-quarter touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Chastin West and a 25-yard field goal by Josh Scobee just before halftime, held the Colts to a field goal on the first possession of the third quarter.
"We started fast and we finished," Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas said. "We played a pretty good game today."
The Jaguars took possession at their 29 after the Colts' second field goal, and on the ensuing play, Jones-Drew ran into history.
He took a handoff from Gabbert, cut back through the middle of the Colts' 29th-ranked rushing defense, and broke into the clear. By the time Colts cornerback Kevin Thomas chased Jones-Drew out of bounds, Jones-Drew had run for a season-long 56 yards.
At that time, Jones-Drew had 1,576 yards on the season.
"It was a huge thing," Jaguars center Brad Meester said. "We were really focused on that as a goal this week. We wanted to get that for him (Jones-Drew)."
Jaguars offensive linemen had said for several weeks their focus was getting Jones-Drew not only the rushing title, but the franchise record. Jaguars veteran guard Uche Nwaneri had said with two games remaining Jones-Drew without question would get the record.
"I knew that was going to happen," Nwaneri said. "I'm not surprised. His work speaks for itself. You just watch the way he plays, and how explosive he is."
Not that the game was over after Jones-Drew's record-breaking run.
Three plays after Jones-Drew' s run to the 15, Scobee converted a 32-yard field goal to make it 13-6, Jaguars, and when Russell Allen intercepted Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky and returned it to the 19, the Jaguars converted that opportunity into a 47-yard field goal.
Jaguars 16, Colts 6.
With 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, Scobee's 39-yard field goal – his fourth of the game with no misses – capped a seven-play, 25-yard drive and made it 19-6, Jaguars.
The Colts moved quickly on their ensuing possession, with Orlovsky completing seven of eight passes for 82 yards. His 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Austin Collie made it 19-13, with 3:22 remaining.
The Jaguars took possession at their 20 needing two first downs to clinch the victory. On 3rd-and-4, after the Colts used the last of their timeouts, Jones-Drew rushed for five yards for a key first down just before the three-minute mark. One play later, his 11-yarder gave the Jaguars a game-clinching first down.
All season, Jones-Drew had run against defenses stacked against the run, something teammates and coaches said made his title all the more impressive. On his final run of the season, Jones-Drew said, "They knew what play we were running."
"We still got 10-to-12 yards out of it," said Jones-Drew, who finished the season with 1,606 yards and eight touchdowns on 343 carries. "It's kind of ironic."
Ironic, and like the rest of the day, not just a little fitting.
Also around the Jaguars Sunday:
*Defensive end Jeremy Mincey registered 2.5 sacks, bringing his team-leading season total to a career-high eight. He had 2.5 sacks against the Colts in mid-November. "I'm starting to understand the art of pass-rushing," Mincey said. "I always had the ability. Now, I've just got to learn the art and it's evident I'm learning because I made some big plays."
*The Jaguars' victory gave them their first season sweep of the Colts since the teams joined the AFC South in 2002. No team had swept the Colts since 2002. "We did not emphasize that," Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker said. "We knew that there were a lot of things surrounding the game, but we have learned down the stretch that we are going to play hard, we are going to give effort and we are going to play with toughness, but we have to execute. So the focus this week was on execution and finishing."
*Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Polsuszny left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. He had played all but two snaps this season entering the game.
*Tucker finished 2-3 as interim coach after replacing Jack Del Rio. Khan has said Tucker will be a candidate in the search for a permanent head coach, but Tucker declined speculation on the situation Sunday. He also declined speculation if he will stay on as defensive coordinator should another permanent coach be hired. "It's premature talk right now, I think, about what I would do and things like that," he said. "Those are hypotheticals I would rather not get into. This is a time right now to enjoy this win."