INDIANAPOLIS – For the fifth straight season, the Colts will have a Thursday night matchup against an AFC South foe.
Indianapolis has had an annual string of divisional battles on Thursday night, a stretch that includes Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville and dates back to 2008 when the Colts and Jaguars met in prime-time.
The Colts and Jaguars met both in 2008 and 2009 in prime-time in Jacksonville, and Indianapolis won each of those games.
Now, Indianapolis will be looking for a split in the season series when it travels to Jacksonville for an 8:20 p.m. kickoff on Thursday on the NFL Network.
The teams met in week three of the season, and Jacksonville completed a fourth-quarter comeback with a 22-17 victory.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew dominated on the ground with 177 yards on 28 carries, including a 59-yard third-quarter touchdown that cut into an 11-point Indianapolis lead.
Jones-Drew did most of the damage for the Jaguars’ offense, but it was a play through the air that made the difference.
The 22-17 defeat came after the Colts had a 14-3 halftime lead.
Luck executed the first of many two-minute scoring drives on the season when he led the offense on a 14-play, 80-yard drive to close out the first half. The payoff on the drive was a four-yard touchdown pass to running back Mewelde Moore.
The Colts will be looking for a reverse of the outcome on Thursday night. The team battled hard throughout the September outing, but gave up the deciding score in the end. It marked the third straight loss to Jacksonville, the Colts’ longest series drought. The loss to Jacksonville is the only home loss to date for Indianapolis.
Jones-Drew has been ruled out of the game by Head Coach Mike Mularkey. Mularkey made the announcement on Monday as his team headed into the short week. Jones-Drew has not played since leaving a 26-23 loss at Oakland on October 21.
Jones-Drew’s 177 yards rushing against the Colts are 100 more than he has had in any other game this season. The Jacksonville rushing game has struggled most of the season as well. The Jaguars had 113 rushing yards in the opener against Minnesota, but they have not topped 70 yards in any games other than against the Vikings and Colts.
Rashad Jennings rushed 12 times for 45 yards in the Jaguars’ game last Sunday at home against Detroit.
Rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon has started to become more of a force in a balanced receiving corps. Blackmon scored his first career NFL touchdown last Sunday.
2012 Record: 1-7, Fourth in the AFC South.
Head Coach: Mike Mularkey, first season as Jaguars head coach and third NFL season as head coach (15-25 overall regular season).
2012 NFL Rankings: Offense – Overall, 32nd (254.4); Rushing, 28th (84.0); Passing, 32nd (174.0) Defense – Overall, 27th (392.9); Rushing, 27th (137.4); Passing, 25th (255.5).
2012 Leading Passer: Blaine Gabbert (142-245 comp., 1,429 yards, 58.0 pct., 9 TDs, 5 INTs, 78.4 rating).
2012 Leading Rusher: Maurice Jones-Drew (86 carries, 414 yards, 1 TD).
2012 Leading Receiver: Justin Blackmon (23 receptions, 225 yards, 1 TD), Marcedes Lewis (23 receptions, 198 yards, 2 TDs) and Cecil Shorts (23 receptions, 456 yards, 3 TDs).
2012 Leading Sacker: Jeremy Mincey and Terrance Knighton (2.0).
2012 Turnover Breakdown: -2.0 (T19th).
2012 NFL Draft Results: The Jaguars chose wide receiver Justin Blackmon with the fifth overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. He has three catches for 24 yards on the season. Second-round pick Andre Branch is starting at right defensive end and was a college teammate of Colts tight end
2011 Review: The Jaguars were 5-11 last season as quarterback Blaine Gabbert started 14 games in his rookie season. Interim Coach Mel Tucker took over for long-time Coach Jack Del Rio for the final five games of the season. Tucker again is the defensive coordinator. He was placed back in the role when Jacksonville chose former Buffalo head coach Mike Mularkey to lead the team. Mularkey’s 22-man coaching staff reflects 15 new assistants.
Last time in Playoffs: 2007 season. Lost in the Divisional playoffs to New England, 31-20.
Last time in Super Bowl: Never.
Super Bowl Championships: None.
2011 Pro Bowl Selections: Maurice Jones-Drew RB, Montell Owens (special teams).