They made him look like just another quarterback. This was Peyton Manning the Jaguars were facing, and they held him to 122 yards passing, no touchdowns and an abysmal 44.0 passer rating. They even intercepted him once.
The Jaguars dominated Manning so completely that when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter, the Colts turned to their running game. Imagine that. Manning surrendered.
And that was the Jaguars' demise. They allowed 63 yards rushing to Edgerrin James in an 88-yard drive that produced the game-winning touchdown in the Colts' 10-3 win on Sunday at the RCA Dome.
"Three points (makes it) tough to win. You're not going to win many games doing that. We're disappointed by our output," coach Jack Del Rio said following the Jaguars' loss, which left them at 1-1 and tied with the Titans for second place in the AFC South. The Colts, of course, lead the division at 2-0.
The Jaguars defense was one of two stars on Sunday. It was forced to share the spotlight, however, with defensive end Dwight Freeney and the Colts' pass-rush. Freeney took control of the game in the second quarter and pressed his advantage to the end, which left Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich to be sacked six times.
"In the end, they got it done and we didn't," Del Rio said. "We've defended them pretty well over the years and slowed them down. It was enough to slow them down but it wasn't enough to get a win.
"I don't believe in consolation prizes. It's a bottom-line business. We came up short," Del Rio added.
They were hard words to swallow, for this was as hard-fought a football game as any in Jaguars history.
"I'm gonna remember this one until we play them again," middle linebacker Mike Peterson said. The two teams will next face each other in Jacksonville on Dec. 11.
How could the Jaguars defense play any better then? Their performance on Sunday was Patriotsesque. The Jaguars literally forced Manning into surrender. How could the Jaguars not have won this game?
As was the case so often last season, a bulky offense was the culprit again. Scoring points remains the Jaguars' Achilles heel.
"We gotta play better if we want to win," running back Fred Taylor said.
Taylor rushed for 81 yards and a 5.1 yards-per-carry average, but only got 18 carries. James, on the other hand, got 27 rushing attempts, which he turned into 128 yards.
"He ran up on me. I'll get him the next time," said Peterson, the former Colt. "Stopping the run is the number one priority, always,"
With 1:44 to play the Jaguars had one shot to send the game into overtime. Leftwich began a drive at his 28-yard line with no times out remaining.
On third-and-18 at his 34, Leftwich barely got the ball out before being hit, but his pass fell into Jimmy Smith's hands at the Indy 42. Three plays later Leftwich found Ernest Wilford over the middle on third-and-15, and the Jaguars hustled up to the Colts 22-yard line as the clock ticked away. Leftwich spiked the ball with three seconds to play and one shot at the end zone.
His pass was directed at Smith streaking down the right side and into double-coverage. Smith fell. Hearts stopped. There were no flags. The game was over.
"Something happened. I thought it was pass interference. You don't get those calls on the road. Hopefully, somebody will take a look at it," Smith said.
Someone will, of course, take a look at it. You can bet Del Rio will take a look at it.
"That's what I thought," Del Rio said when asked if Smith appeared to have been tripped. "Live, it looked like a pretty obvious call, but you don't want to get to you're begging for a play."
Leftwich was a warrior in the Jaguars' final drive. He was playing on an injury he sustained a few minutes earlier, when he was sacked from behind by Raheem Brock, who went low to the backs of Leftwich's knees. Leftwich was helped from the field and it was thought he had injured his left knee, but following the game he told reporters he had not injured his knee and planned to be in the lineup when the Jaguars play the Jets this Sunday in New York. Leftwich would not divulge the nature of his injury.
"He's awfully tough," Del Rio said of his quarterback. "He took some vicious shots and got up. We gotta do a better job of protecting him."
On this day, the Jaguars defense turned in a performance against Manning that would be the envy of every defense in the league, but it was the Colts' pass-rush that won the game.