JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars were 4-2 when they headed to Indianapolis in October 2004. Jack Del Rio's second season as head coach was off to a good start with a strong running game and a defense that could keep them in any game.
The Colts were 4-1, coming off a bye week. With a loaded roster that included quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, tight Dallas Clark and running back Edgerrin James they were a Super Bowl contender.
The Jaguars simply wanted to show the NFL that after four consecutive seasons away from the playoffs they were on their way back.
The teams had played a slugfest in Jacksonville three weeks before, with James' touchdown run with less than four minutes remaining giving the Colts a 24-17 victory. That game made it clear Del Rio and defensive coordinator Mike Smith had a plan to go toe to toe with the AFC South's best team.
Now the question was, "Could they do it at the RCA Dome?"
The two teams were even in the first quarter, with neither defense allowing the opponent to establish the running game. Jaguars strong safety Donovin Darius made the first move, forcing a fumble by Colts wide receiver Brandon Stokely that linebacker Mike Peterson recovered at the Colts 46.
Runs of 11 and 13 yards took the Jaguars to the red zone, and Taylor's running softened the pass rush of Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis enough for quarterback Byron Leftwich to drop a quick ball into the hands of tight end Kyle Brady and the Jaguars had a precious 7-0 lead.
Manning carved up the defense on the ensuing drive with 16 and 38-yard passes to Stokely, setting up a seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Harrison to tie it at 7-7.
Leftwich talked all week about having an aggressive mindset and matching the Colts. The Jaguars did just that on the ensuing possession when Taylor turned a short pass from Leftwich into a 31-yard gain to the Colts 25 that set up a short field goal by rookie kicker Josh Scobee for a 10-7 Jaguars lead.
Manning quickly drove the Colts before halftime, and when Clark cleared the safety in the end zone, their 17-yard touchdown gave Indianapolis a 14-10 halftime lead.
Still, the Jaguars weren't broken. Leftwich was intercepted on the second play of the third quarter, and the Jaguars' defense pitched a three-and-out. When Leftwich fumbled at the Colts two-yard line on the next drive, the defense forced a punt from the Indianapolis 7.
The Colts led 17-16 with 9:32 remaining. Starting at the Jaguars 32, Leftwich found wide receiver Troy Edwards for 17 yards, Taylor for 16 and wide receiver Jimmy Smith for 25 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars led 24-17 with just over six minutes to play and a monumental task in front of them: Stop Manning again.
They couldn't. Manning's 39-yard touchdown pass to Harrison was the tandem's second touchdown connection of the game and tied it 24-24 with 3:52 remaining.
The Jaguars came out firing, with Leftwich passing to Taylor and tight end Todd Yoder to start the drive. With 1:04 remaining from the Colts 30, Leftwich threw incomplete into the end zone. On third down, the Colts sacked Leftwich to set up a 53-yard field goal attempt by Scobee.
Scobee converted for a 27-24 lead with :38 remaining. That was enough time for Manning to respond. This time, he didn't. The Jaguars left Indianapolis with their first win over the Colts in Indianapolis and the confidence they could hang with Manning and Company.