David Garrard wasn't overly disappointed. He figures the next game between the two teams will be more important.
"We're going to see them again, so we need to put this one behind us and focus on the rest of the season," Garrard said following the Jaguars' 28-25 loss to the Colts on Sunday, which all but clinched the Colts' fifth consecutive AFC South title and relegated the Jaguars to pursuit of a wild-card playoff berth.
Garrard threw his first interception of the season, but at all other times turned in another outstanding performance. He finished 24 of 29 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and a 112.2 passer rating.
"I thought David played pretty well. Having a quarterback playing the way he's playing gives us a legitimate chance to play anybody in the league," coach Jack Del Rio said.
The Jaguars offense amassed 411 total net yards against what was the second-ranked defense in the league. The Jaguars passed and ran at will, with Fred Taylor topping the 100-yard mark for the second consecutive week. The Jaguars executed touchdown drives of 84, 69 and 78 yards.
Why didn't they win? The answer was obvious: The Jaguars defense experienced its third meltdown game of the season, allowing 288 yards and four touchdowns passing to Peyton Manning, as the Colts converted 10 of 13 third-down attempts.
"Didn't do enough to get off the field on third down. We had some breakdowns we'll need to clean up," Del Rio said of the Jaguars' greatest failing. "The same things we were able to do to get them into third and long you have to be able to do to get off the field on third down."
Manning's receivers ran wide open in the Jaguars secondary. Cornerback Rashean Mathis, returning from a groin strain, was targeted early. Manning also went after the Jaguars' young linebackers with his tight ends, as Dallas Clark caught seven passes for 60 yards. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne punctuated the Jaguars' pass-defense failings by beating cornerback Brian Williams for a 48-yard touchdown reception.
"We didn't quite get it done today but there were a lot of good things I saw. I'm really looking forward to getting these next 24 hours past us and move on to the next game. We just need to hold up a little better with the coverage," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars were angered by officiating they believed was tilted in the Colts' favor. Defensive end Paul Spicer, who continues to play the best of any Jaguars defensive lineman, was pointed in his remarks.
Spicer was seen to counsel wide receiver Reggie Williams along the sideline following a personal foul penalty that killed a potential touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Williams was flagged for retaliation.
"That guy was doing stuff after the whistle and Reggie retaliated. I said we're in Indianapolis and (Colts president Bill) Polian gives them a little extra in the check," Spicer said.
"You know what it is. You watched the game. You know," Spicer said, hinting at the subject of his criticism but stopping short of being specific. "The people at home were probably wondering what was going on out there.
"The Colts are known for that stuff, late stuff. That's just what they do and we can't get sucked into that. Reggie didn't too much; just get off me," Spicer said.
"We definitely could've played better in the first half. When you're going against a team like Indy, you can't have blown assignments. Teams like the Colts; there are other teams in the league like that. They'll capitalize on mistakes. If we have mistakes (in the playoffs), it's gonna be one and done," Spicer added.
The Jaguars committed eight penalties; the Colts committed two. Two false-start penalties early in the game put the Jaguars in a hole and the Colts were able to capitalize and take a 14-0 lead.
Colts pass-rusher Robert Mathis made the first big play of the game, beating tackle Khalif Barnes, sacking Garrard from behind and forcing a fumble that was first ruled to have been recovered by the Jaguars. Colts coach Tony Dungy "challenged" the ruling, however, and replay review reversed the call and gave the Colts the ball at the Jaguars' 11-yard line.
"I was angry at myself because Dave expects me to be his blindside tackle. That fumble shouldn't have happened. That's my responsibility," Barnes said.
The Jaguars offensive line struggled early with the combination of crowd noise and tactics by the Colts defensive line intended to make the Jaguars' offensive linemen jump. Del Rio referred to "barking" by the Colts defensive linemen.
"We key on the cadence. Some defenses yell different stuff. We know they do that. It's one of those things we have to overcome. It was so loud I could hardly hear anything anyhow. It's one of those things you have to deal with," center Brad Meester said.
In time, the Jaguars were able to deal with the difficult environment. They dominated time of possession by 10-and-a-half minutes. What they couldn't do, however, was slow down the Colts' passing game.
"They were the better team today. We played hard. In a perfect world, we'll get a chance to play them again," Fred Taylor said. Taylor averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
"We turned the ball over too many times," said Garrard of a 2-1 differential that favored the Colts. "We felt we could move the ball any time we were out there. We had some bad penalties as well. We felt like we were playing uphill the whole time.
"I feel so much better about this team after this game, the way this team fought. It was a tough environment. We weren't getting the calls but the guys stayed resilient and that's the mark of a good football team," Garrard added.
At 8-4, the Jaguars remain in the lead for a wild-card playoff berth.