INDIANAPOLIS — It's always nice to go out with a win.
For the Indianapolis Colts, despite missing out on postseason action for a second straight year, they'll head into the offseason with at least a little momentum after their 24-20 Week 17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
But Sunday's game certainly didn't start out with such good feelings, as Jacksonville jumped out to a 17-0 lead into the second quarter.
But Indianapolis, which finishes with an 8-8 record for a second straight season, responded with 17 points of its own in the second and third quarters, setting up a drama-filled fourth quarter.
That final period included lost fumbles on promising drives by both quarterbacks, and then Jaguars kicker Jason Myers missed a 54-yard field goal with 3:30 left. But thanks to a blocked punt, Myers was able to redeem himself with a 41-yard field goal with 1:38, giving the Jags a 23-20 lead.
With no timeouts, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck saved his best play for his last drive of the year, going 6-for-6 for 70 yards, and eventually finding tight end Jack Doyle for a game-winning touchdown to end the contest.
The game was also cause for celebration for three other major reasons: former Colts Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime; it was the final game of Colts' great pass rush specialist Robert Mathis' career; and Frank Gore became the first running back older than 33 since John Riggins in 1984 to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing plateau.
Here's the Top 10 quotes from Sunday's win over the Jaguars from Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and his players:
• "That was the last time and last opportunity for that group of men in that room. That was the last opportunity that we had and they took full advantage of it. Again, I can't be more proud of those players and those coaches for sticking together and fighting this thing out. It has been one hell of a roller coaster ride as everybody knows." — Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, on his reaction to his team's comeback Week 17 victory against the Jaguars.
• "I think it was a lot of jitters in the first half. We were going out there and we weren't lined up in the right gaps, we weren't blocking, we weren't doing the simple things. The second half came and we started doing the little things that matter and that is when we turned it around." — Colts safety Mike Adams, on what changed for his team at halftime to come back and get the win against the Jaguars.
• "I think it was a lot of jitters in the first half. We were going out there and we weren't lined up in the right gaps, we weren't blocking, we weren't doing the simple things. The second half came and we started doing the little things that matter and that is when we turned it around." — Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, on the difference between the first and second half against the Jaguars.
• "It's a blessing, especially coming here and haven't gotten it done since 2007. It is special to me because the guys up front who all have been here just hearing what they can't do and they proved people wrong, so it's real big." — Colts running back Frank Gore, on what earning 1,000 rushing yards means to him.
• "It was great. We wanted to end it the right way for Rob (Robert Mathis). We came in and made adjustments. The energy was low in the first half and they just kind of exploded on us. In the second half, we wanted to come out and straight dominate again." — Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, on being able to close out the season with a victory over the Jaguars.
• "He taught me more off the field than he did on the field. On the field all you have to do is cut the tape in and you can learn from just the tape alone. But off the field he teaches you how to be a pro, how to take your time, he teaches you patience, teaches you a lot of things. I didn't grow up with a dad so these are like my brothers and there are father figures in this locker room and he is definitely one of them and he has taught me a lot and he means a lot to me." — Colts nose tackle Zach Kerr, on what Robert Mathis means to him personally and professionally.
• "It felt good to get that touchdown at that moment. There were times earlier this year that we didn't finish games when we had the chance in the two-minute drill or a four-minute drill. So to get that one was very joyous and maybe released a little frustration." — Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, on throwing for the game-winning touchdown in Sunday's game against the Jaguars.
• "I have to give a lot of credit to my defensive line, my trench guys. They wanted to make sure I got to that quarterback at least one more time so they cleared the way and gave the old man a nice little going away present." — Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis, on his emotions ending his career with yet another strip-sack and fumble recovery.
• "We just looked at each other, and we knew that we were playing for each other. And we wanted to send Robert (Mathis) on his way with a great win, we wanted to end this season with a great win, and we didn't want to wake up tomorrow and look back and say, 'We could've done this or that.' So we just decided to bow up; we had our back against the wall, and we decided to play for each other, calm down, because we had plenty of time — we had a whole half." — Colts inside linebacker Edwin Jackson, on the Indy defense limiting the Jaguars to just three-second half points to help earn the victory.
• "I tried to find an open area there, an if you find an open area, Andrew will find you. … We motioned out to an empty backfield and (offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) did a great job on going over their red-zone stuff and we knew they were going to drop into a zone and see the holes that are there. Just tried to find one and it worked out and Andrew found me." — Colts tight end Jack Doyle, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Sunday's victory over the Jaguars.