A year ago, this was the game in which the Jaguars offensive line came of age. This Sunday, the Jaguars will need a repeat performance.
"We came in at halftime down 20-7. A lot of times like that you throw out your game plan. We stuck with what we had and it worked for us. We pounded them," left tackle Mike Pearson remembered of the Jaguars' dominant performance in the second half of that 28-23 victory.
When the Jaguars trotted onto the field for the second half of that game, the Colts were 7-1 and had a 13-point head-start on 8-1. The Jaguars were 1-7 and in danger of seeing their season get real ugly.
Then, it changed.
The Jaguars took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in 13 plays. Most importantly, the Jaguars took control of the line of scrimmage.
Late in the third quarter, the Jaguars began another touchdown drive. This one went 93 yards in seven plays. They ran it and they threw it. The Jaguars were gashing the Colts defense.
The game-winner occurred late in the game. Fred Taylor went 32 yards for the game-winning touchdown, mowing down safety Mike Doss in the process. It was the defining moment in the Jaguars' otherwise dismal season.
"We have to establish the running game again and give Byron time; let our receivers run after the catch. We have to be a ball-control offense. We've had our defense out on the field way too long," Pearson said.
Pearson is a key figure in this Sunday's game. He plays on a line that must have its way with a somewhat soft Colts defense, and Pearson must hold his own against star pass-rusher Dwight Freeney. If there's a player on the Colts defense capable of being a difference-maker, it's Freeney.
"It's Freeney. Nothing else needs to be said. He's a good player and I hope to play good against him," Pearson said.
Freeney had no sacks in last year's game at Alltel Stadium. He had three tackles; that's all. Freeney was a non-factor.
The Jaguars made it an un-Freeney kind of game by making him play run. Freeney's specialty, of course, is rushing the passer.
"We have a good offense. We just don't have the numbers to prove it," Taylor said on Thursday.
The Jaguars will need numbers to beat the Colts. In this game last year, the Jaguars held the ball for 20 minutes and seven seconds of the second half. That kept Peyton Manning on the sideline for all but 23 plays. Imagine that, just 23 plays. Yeah, that's how you beat the Colts.
Cornerback Dewayne Washington was with the Steelers in 2001 when they held the Colts to 10 points in a Monday night game. "We put a little pressure on him in that game; trying to get him off rhythm. He's definitely a rhythm quarterback," Washington said of Manning. "And I think our offense kept the ball. That's what happened. We were on the bench."
Taylor rushed for 152 yards in last year's win over the Colts. His counterpart, Edgerrin James, rushed for only 44 yards. Manning threw for 347 yards, but he threw two interceptions.
"I have to stop trying to make so much happen," Taylor said of his early-season slump this year. "It'll come. First daylight, go north and south."
Through three games this season, Taylor has rushed for only 196 yards on 50 carries. Those two figures will probably have to rise sharply for the Jaguars to have any chance of beating the Colts, and the Jaguars' offensive line will have to lead the way.