INDIANAPOLIS—The Jaguars are back.
They returned from the dead on Sunday at brand-new Lucas Oil Stadium with two 100-yard rushers, more than 41 minutes time of possession and the kind of physical butt-whipping that harkens memories of those 375 yards rushing they laid on the Colts in 2006. This time, it was a mere 236 yards rushing in a 23-21 victory that, despite the Jaguars' physical domination, required a heart-stopping last-minute rally.
Physical dominance of the once-mighty Colts? No question about it but the Colts are no doubt pointing at a pass-interference penalty on fourth down that allowed the Jaguars to rally and the Colts' protestations to the call are not baseless. Hey, sometimes even bullies need a little luck.
The Jags got the break they needed after quarterback David Garrard threw incomplete on fourth and one at the Jaguars' 29-yard line. The Colts were already celebrating when the late flag came flying. Pass interference was the call against Colts linebacker Freddie Keiaho, who appeared to have had the misfortune of bumping into wide receiver Reggie Williams as Williams appeared to be in the process of "picking" Keiaho.
Whoa! What do you think Colts President Bill Polian's opinion of the call is? He will no doubt voice it loud and clear this week.
You know the rest. Garrard moved it downfield, leaving Josh Scobee with a 51-yard field goal attempt to win the game.
"It would've been good from 65," coach Jack Del Rio said of Scobee's kick.
All right, enough of that, because this game wasn't about kickers. This game was about runners and blockers and the Jaguars' were dominant for the first time this season, after failing to rush for 100 yards in consecutive games for the first time in four years.
"I got a massive headache," Fred Taylor said in the postgame locker room. "The first play of our last drive, they dinged me pretty good. They said stay down, stay down but your pride's got to stand up. You didn't see those jelly legs?"
Until that play, Taylor's legs had the look of youthfulness. He bounced it right and cut it back to the left. He plowed straight ahead, spun out of tackles and fought for extra yardage. He's back, having rushed for 121 yards on Sunday, nearly doubling his output of the first two games.
Del Rio asked Taylor to address the team on Saturday night.
"We got a boulder in front of us and we've got to move it; can't go around it, gotta move it," Taylor said to his teammates. "I'm thinking about taking Obama's spot," he joked.
The Colts weren't much of a boulder. With Bob Sanders out of the lineup, the Colts more closely resembled a loose impediment.
Taylor had help. Yeah, his old accomplice, Maurice Jones-Drew, is also back from the depths of his two-game slump. He failed to get a carry in the first half of the loss to Buffalo and that caused Jones-Drew to pop off in a radio interview last week.
He wanted the ball more and his coach made sure he got plenty of work on Sunday. Jones-Drew rushed 19 times for 107 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 59 yards.
Jones-Drew took a risk. He denied it during the postgame interview but there's no denying that he put a lot of pressure on himself to produce. When you demand more carries, you better do something with them when you get them. He sure did.
"I was frustrated. I got caught up in the moment and the guys backed me up," Jones-Drew said.
This was a game of resurrection. The Jaguars' running game was resurrected and so were their division title hopes. With two home games just ahead, the Jaguars have a chance to get over .500 and take aim on the high expectations everybody had for them before they started the season with consecutive defeats.
"Showed a lot of resolve and grit. This was a big weekend in the AFC South. It was important that we find a way to get a victory here," Del Rio said.
Important? Had they lost, you could've thrown dirt on them.