We move on today in the jaguars.com series counting down the all-time Top 10 Jaguars home games to No. 5. This was a game that was more than just a memorable performance.
It was a historical one – and a record-setting one, too.
And while statistics and numbers often fail to capture the essence of a performance in the NFL, the dominance and one-sided nature of the Jaguars' 44-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at then-Alltel Stadium on December 10, 2006, essentially could be summed up in one impressive number.
Three hundred seventy-five.
That's the number of yards for which the Jaguars rushed, and while there was more to the victory than the running of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew and a dominant offensive line, it's their performance that made it a historic day.
And make no mistake:
That it came against the hated Colts just made it more satisfying to many fans.
"Anytime you smash the Colts, it&39;s soooooo sweet!" Tom Connor of Jacksonville Beach wrote.
"I&39;ll always remember watching a Colts fan tear his Manning jersey in half off of his body... one of the greatest moments of my life," Mike Cagen of Jacksonville wrote.
The Jaguars' rushing total was the most ever against the Colts, and tied for the second-most in league history. It remains a franchise record for rushing yards in a game.
"I&39;ve never seen a team dominate another team like that in the NFL – 375!" Zack Williams of Altamonte Springs wrote.
Not that the Jaguars' running effectively against the Colts was shocking.
While the Colts went on to win the Super Bowl with a dramatically improved run defense, they had struggled in the area to that point in the season, and finished the regular season ranked last in the area in the NFL. The Jaguars featured the veteran Taylor and Jones-Drew – then a rookie – and had run for 191 yards in a loss in the teams' first meeting that season in Indianapolis.
But while many times such pre-game themes mean nothing, on this day the Jaguars' perceived edge in the area came to fruition from the beginning. The Jaguars ran early and just kept running.
"This was one of the most satisfying wins over a divisional opponent and I didn&39;t see it coming," Ed from Jacksonville wrote. "The ease in which the Jags ran over the Colts was awesome. Pure dominance."
The dominance began on the first play, with Taylor running through the Colts' defense for a 76-yard gain to the Colts 18. Although cornerback Jason David saved a touchdown, Jones-Drew scored on an 18-yard run on the next play.
"One of my favorite games to watch," Michael H. from Jacksonville wrote. "You knew it was going to be special when I saw Fred Taylor break that huge run on the first drive."
Jones-Drew finished with 166 yards and two touchdowns, with Taylor rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown before leaving with a sore hamstring.
The team's rushing yardage total was the most since Cincinnati rushed for 407 against Denver in 2000, and the Jaguars averaged nearly nine yards a carry.
"We really showed the Colts what Jaguar football is all about," Crayton Joel Adams wrote. "I loved the dominance in that game."
The Jaguars' defense and special teams made an impact, too, with the defense pressuring Colts quarterback Peyton Manning throughout. He completed 25 of 50 passes for 313 yards and no touchdowns with an interception.
"I remember how frustrated the Colts were," Adam McKuhen of Jacksonville wrote. "It was like we were playing a pop Warner team out there."
The Jaguars controlled the first half, but with Josh Scobee missing a first-half field goal and David Garrard throwing an interception in the end zone, Jacksonville led just 24-10 at halftime.
Then, the special teams made their biggest play of the game.
Jones-Drew, who finished the game with 303 all-purpose yards, picked up a kickoff and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half. That made it 31-10, and the Colts spent the rest of the game unsuccessfully trying to rally. It snapped a three-game Colts winning streak in the series and prevented Indianapolis from clinching the division title.
"There are moments when you stand in disbelief at what is happening before you," Brian "Biff" Fullford of Jacksonville wrote. "This game served as an oasis in the desert that is the Jaguars/Colts history. While most of the games have been close in favor of the Colts, this one was an opportunity to experience the dismantling of the school-yard bully.
"When MJD ran the second half kickoff back for a TD it served notice that no Manning Magic would be enough to stop the onslaught."
How dominant were the Jaguars rushing? With Taylor and Drew out of the game late, third-team running back Alvin Pearman rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
"It&39;s hard for words to describe it," Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio told the Associated press afterward. "It was a great day running the ball, and I felt like we had some things that we&39;d be good at and we executed well."
The Colts talked afterward of needing to regain confidence and momentum, which they did, winning four post-season games and Super Bowl XLI. The Jaguars, after starting the season 2-0, had entered the Colts game needing a victory to stay in the playoff chase. While they got it in impressive fashion, they lost their remaining games to Tennessee, New England and Kansas City by a total of 15 points and missed the post-season with an 8-8 record.
Still, for the fans who attended, what happened in the final three weeks didn't erase the memory of one of the most dominant rushing performances in NFL history – and one of the most memorable home games in the history of the franchise.
"This might not been the emotional climax that other entries were, but as far as an enjoyable game to watch from beginning to end, nothing beats this game," Chris Gregory of Neptune Beach wrote. "Watching MJD and Fred pound it out on the ground against our elite division rival was pure ecstasy each play."
Wrote Donald from Jacksonville, "We could do no wrong. It was a great day. I have never high-fived so many strangers in my life."