Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Closer than we think?


They stopped Peyton Manning as no other team ever had. The Jaguars held him to 122 yards passing and no touchdowns, intercepted him once and hung a 44.0 passer rating around his neck. Then, the Colts turned to the run.

It's how the Colts rallied to beat the Jaguars in week two. Against the Jaguars' pass-conscious 3-3-5 defense, the Colts ran the ball 14 times in a 17-play, 88-yard, game-winning touchdown drive. Edgerrin James finished the game with 128 yards rushing and the Colts were 2-0 on their way to 12-0.

This Sunday, of course, the Colts can claim the AFC South title and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win in Jacksonville. The irony is that had the Jaguars found a way to win that game in Indianapolis, the Jaguars would take the lead in the AFC South and homefield playoffs chase with a win over the Colts this Sunday.

That's how little separates these two teams; just the seven points by which the Colts won in week two; coach Tony Dungy's and Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore's decision to turn to the run late in that 10-3 win in week two, after the Jaguars had unnerved Manning to the point of surrender.

"I don't think people can line up and pound us. They want to run the ball so they can throw it. They're not a pound it team. Pittsburgh is a pound it team," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said of the Colts.

Late in that week-two game, however, the Colts were a pound it team. They pounded it 14 times against a defense designed to stop Manning, and it became the drive of the year for the Colts.

Ten weeks later, the Colts are considered to be almost invincible. Media people are all but conceding the Super Bowl title to them. The only question would seem to be: Will Dungy go for the undefeated season, or rest his starters for the playoffs?

Here's another question: Can the Jaguars beat the Colts this Sunday?

"What kind of head coach would I be if I stood up here and said we have no chance to win?" Del Rio said.

Whatever chance the Jaguars have of beating the Colts would seem to rest with quarterback David Garrard. He will be under center for the third consecutive game, as Byron Leftwich continues to walk with the aid of crutches in his recovery from the broken ankle he suffered on Nov. 27.

Indianapolis is the team against whom Garrard made his first-ever pro start, in the final game of his rookie season. That Colts team had Manning and James and Marvin Harrison, but it didn't have much of a defense. That's the difference between the Colts of previous years and the Colts of this year.

"The big difference is what they're doing on defense. They are not complex. They are very basic. They have good football players playing fast. It's an active, productive defense that challenges you," Del Rio said.

"They have much better players now," Garrard said. "They fly around. They're fast."

In this year's previous meeting, the Colts defense ravaged Leftwich. They sacked him six times and left him to limp from the field. They kept the Jaguars offense out of the end zone.

Will the Jaguars fare better on offense in this rematch?

"I feel like we can move the ball against anybody. The guys in this room are ready for the challenge," Garrard said.

And what if the Jaguars beat the Colts and ended their pursuit of an undefeated season?

"It would mean a lot," rookie tackle Khalif Barnes said. "We played them tough at their place. It would make us feel good. It would make us feel like we're getting closer."

Maybe they're closer than we think.

Meanwhile, center Brad Meester has elected to undergo surgery on his torn biceps and will be put on the injured reserve list, effectively ending his consecutive games started and played streak at 92. This Sunday's game will be the first game he has missed in his career.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content