They were doing all of the right things; the two main things you have to do to beat Peyton Manning and the Colts. The Jaguars were gashing the Colts with the running game and dominating time of possession.
The Jaguars were so adept at executing their game plan that Manning and the Colts offense didn't have the ball but for 5:29 of the first half. There was, however, one thing the Jaguars didn't do enough of: score points.
A persistent failure – scoring points commensurate with the team's yardage output – spelled doom in the RCA Dome on Sunday. The Jaguars outrushed the Colts in the first half, 156 yards to 10, but went to the locker room at halftime tied 7-7.
You could smell defeat hanging in the stale dome air. The Jaguars allowed the Colts to escape a half of having their tails kicked all over their home turf. That is not the formula for beating the Colts.
"It was working well," Jack Del Rio said of his team's running game. "We ended up short in the points total for the amount of effort. We came up short in the points total early on when we were dominating time of possession."
That's an understatement. In the first half, the Jaguars were men playing against boys. The Jags offensive line snowplowed the Colts defensive front. Defensively, the Jaguars were frustrating Manning, again, holding him to no points.
The game turned on these critical errors.
• Byron Leftwich sailed a pass over the head of a wide-open George Wrighster at about the Colts 15-yard line and into the hands of Colts cornerback Jason David at the nine. It was a pass that should've led to a 14-0 lead.
• An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Vince Manuwai pushed the Jaguars back 15 yards for a fourth-down punt.
• Chris Hanson's punt was long and angled beautifully toward the sideline, where Terrence Wilkins fielded it at the Colts 18-yard line. Two missed tackles and 82 yards later Wilkins had scored the game-tying touchdown. Had Manuwai not committed the personal foul, Hanson's punt probably would've either been "killed" inside the 20 or booted into the end zone.
• Josh Scobee hit the left upright on a failed 24-yard field goal attempt.
"I wouldn't second-guess that at all. Wide open; Byron just misfired," Del Rio said of the pass for Wrighster.
It was an apt description of the whole day. It was wide open and the Jaguars misfired.
The Colts were ripe for the picking. They were minus several starters and Dwight Freeney was slowed by a leg injury that left him totally ineffective. Freeney registered not a sack, a tackle or a pass-defensed.
Manning was good, but not great. He threw for 219 yards, a touchdown and a 79.9 passer rating, pedestrian numbers for him.
The Colts running game was nearly non-existent.
Given all of that information, coupled with the Jaguars' 19-minute time of possession advantage, you'd expect the visitors to have won going away, yet, it was the Colts who were protecting a big lead in the final minutes.
They didn't score enough points and they gave points away. That was the difference.