INDIANAPOLIS –When the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars meet one thing is almost always guaranteed – a down-to-the-wire football game decided in the final minutes, or the seconds.
In the teams' past 15 meetings, 12 of those have been decided by one possession. Indianapolis has won four of the past five encounters. Six of the last seven games have been decided by seven points or less.
One of those one-possession games occurred on December 2, 2007 when the 9-2 Colts welcomed the 8-3 Jaguars following the Thanksgiving weekend.
The Colts would jump out to a 14-point first-quarter lead, but would have to hold on late in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
On the Jaguars' first drive of the game, defensive end Robert Mathis stripped quarterback David Garrard and Raheem Brock recovered the fumble. Originally ruled no fumble on the play, Head Coach Tony Dungy challenged the call and Indianapolis got a reversal and was in business.
Setting up shop at the Jaguars' 11-yard line, quarterback Peyton Manning took full advantage of the short field, hitting tight end Dallas Clark for a five-yard touchdown pass three plays later to give the Colts an early 7-0 lead.
After Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee missed a 46-yard field goal, Manning led the Colts on an eight-play, 63-yard drive that was capped off when wide receiver Reggie Wayne hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-16. The scoring play came after another replay reversal. On the previous play, tight end Ben Utecht was ruled to have fumbled after a reception. The Colts challenged successfully again, the call was reversed and Manning struck on the next play for a 14-0 Indianapolis advantage.
The Jaguars responded to the adversity with a crusade, marching 84 yards on 16 plays. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew ended the drive that consumed 9:39 when he scored from two yards out, cutting the lead to 14-7 midway through the second quarter.
The Colts then would milk all but the final six seconds of the half with an 80-yard drive. Manning found Clark once again for a touchdown pass, this time from 14 yards out. The scoring play padded the lead to 21-7 at intermission.
The second half would be anything but easy for the Colts as the Jaguars would score 10 straight points to bring them to within 21-17 early in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville chipped away on its first chance in the third quarter, moving 69 yards in 12 plays. Garrard hit tight end Marcedes Lewis on a two-yard strike. Jacksonville then intercepted Manning and kicker Josh Scobee added a 47-yard field goal 3:24 into the final quarter. The Colts pushed the lead to 28-17 on a 63-yard march in response to Jacksonville's comeback. Manning hit a usual suspect, Clark, on the drive. He then found a lesser-known target in Utecht on the drive, and the 30-yard reception put the Colts at the Jaguars' 14-yard line. The payoff play was Manning passing to fullback Luke Lawton for one yard. It marks to this day the only regular season touchdown pass ever by Manning to a player playing a true fullback position.
The Colts' last score came with 8:26 remaining, but the Jaguars would not go down without a fight. Wide receiver Dennis Northcutt caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Garrard, who then scored on a two-point conversion rush to make the score 28-25. There was 2:47 left to play.
After the Jaguars kicked the ball deep on the ensuing kickoff, Indianapolis countered with a 16-yard first-down completion. Following two Jacksonville timeouts and the two-minute warning, running back Joseph Addai converted a third-and-one rushing attempt and the Colts drained the remaining time off the clock.
The outcome gave the Colts a franchise-record six straight 10-win seasons, a streak they would extend through the 2010 season.
Without receiver Marvin Harrison, Wayne led the receivers with eight catches for 158 yards, while Clark added seven receptions. Manning helped the Colts' offense to 10 third-down conversions in just 13 attempts, while this marked the 16th time in his career that he threw for four touchdowns in a game. Garrard was solid by hitting 24-of-29 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Manning joined Dan Marino as the only players with 10 consecutive 20 -TD seasons to open a career, and Manning became the only player to open a career with 10 straight 3,000 seasons.
Manning would extend those streaks through the 2010 season, too.
The second meeting of the 2010 series (on December 19) between the teams came with big stakes attached. The 8-5 Jaguars could clinch a first-ever AFC South championship with a win in Lucas Oil Stadium, while the 7-6 Colts were fighting for post-season survival. A three-game losing streak had lodged the team at .500 after 12 games, and the Colts were coming off a 30-28 win at Tennessee that had kept post-season hopes alive. "You can put it any way you want it, this is a playoff game," said Manning.
The Colts needed a four-game winning streak to end the season and return to the playoffs. The task was to win one game – four times in a row. This was the second opportunity.
Typically, Manning was up to the task. Typically, Jacksonville was, too. Such is the nature of this rivalry.
Manning and wide receiver Austin Collie established a rhythm in the first half, combining on eight completions for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Collie capped off the first drive of the game with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Manning.
The Jaguars answered two drives later with an early second-quarter field goal that capped a 15-play, 77-yard march that consumed 8:41. The Manning-to-Collie combination struck again on the ensuing Indianapolis drive.
On a 2nd-and-18 from the Jaguars 43-yard line, Collie hauled in a 21-yard pass. After a false start penalty on the next play, Collie caught his second touchdown pass, a 27-yarder from Manning that ended a 92-yard drive.
Indianapolis was stymied on its next possession and Jacksonville's Mike Thomas returned a Pat McAfee punt 78 yards for a touchdown to make the count 14-10.
The physicality of the series struck with 1:07 left in the second quarter when Collie was knocked from the game with a head injury. It ended a solid performance by the second-yard receiver.
Indianapolis had 252 net yards at the break and limited the Jaguars' ground attack to 40 yards on 14 attempts.
Forced to have other guys step up, running back Donald Brown answered the bell. Starting in place of the injured Joseph Addai, Brown had a 49-yard burst from scrimmage on the club's first scoring drive of the game. He followed that with a 43-yard touchdown run on the club's second play of the second half, providing the Colts with a 21-10 lead.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals around a Jaguars touchdown, putting the lead at 27-17 with just less than 10 minutes to go in game.
Jacksonville bottled the Colts deep with a punt, then gained possession near mid-field with 3:21 to go. Garrard zipped Jacksonville 51 yards in seven plays, hitting wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker for a one-yard score with 1:54 remaining.
With the division direction in doubt, Indianapolis made the key play. After a defensive penalty on the Colts negated the first Jacksonville onside kick, linebacker Tyjuan Hagler scooped up Scobee's second effort and scored on a 41-yard return. With only one timeout left, Jacksonville could get only to the Colts' 31-yard line before time expired.
Brown carried the ball 14 times for a career-high 129 yards in helping a rushing offense out-gain the Jaguars, 155-67. The evenly-matched gamed showed the Jaguars having one more first down than the Colts (20-19), holding a 44-second time of possession advantage and the Colts having just 20 more total yards than the visitors (376-356). Both teams converted five-of-13 third downs. Eight different Colts had receptions and Manning played in his 206th career game, tying him with John Unitas for the club record.
More importantly, Indianapolis kept its playoff hopes alive, and the club would post season-ending victories at Oakland (31-26) and against Tennessee (23-20) to earn the division title.