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(Sunday, December 27th)
Final Score: NY Jets 29, Indianapolis 15
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Marques Douglas' score off a Curtis Painter fumble in the third quarter put the Jets in front for good, as New York capitalized on the Colts resting starters to hand Indianapolis its first loss, 29-15, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts, who had already locked up the AFC's top seed, carried a 14-0 record and an NFL-record 23-game winning streak into the contest. But the undefeated season and the streak both ended after Peyton Manning was removed late in the third quarter, along with a number of other Colts starters.
Manning finished with 192 yards to become the fourth player all-time to throw for 50,000 yards in his career, but had to watch from the sideline -- with his helmet still on -- as the Jets (8-7) finished the game with 19 consecutive points to take the victory.
"Every guy out there, you ask him, they want to go," Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said. "They want to go the distance. It's up to us to make the decisions and so we did. The main focus for us is to make certain we're ready to go. The most important season is the one that's coming up."
New York now controls its playoff destiny, and can get into the postseason with a win at home next week against Cincinnati, which clinched the AFC North title earlier Sunday.
"That's your goal when you start training camp and everything else," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. "We're excited about this opportunity. Get to play in front of our home crowd. Let's see what happens."
Thomas Jones ran for 105 yards and a score for the Jets, while Mark Sanchez was an efficient 12-of-19 for 106 yards, with no interceptions. Brad Smith returned the second half's opening kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown.
In Manning's place, Painter was 4-of-11 for 44 yards, with an interception and the critical fumble. Donald Brown and Joseph Addai had rushing scores in the loss, the first in the regular season for Indianapolis since October 27 of last season against Tennessee.
"Obviously disappointed we didn't win the game," Manning said. "Certainly put Curtis Painter in a tough position. That's an excellent defense. Tough spot for him to be in."
The Colts held a 9-3 halftime lead, but the Jets went on top on Smith's return. He got to the right sideline and began speeding down the field, escaping an ankle tackle before getting across the goal line.
"It was one of the most exciting plays in my life," Smith said. "Knowing the situation of the game and seeing the guys on the sideline."
But Indianapolis came right back down the field, as Manning's 19-yard pass to Dallas Clark set up a 1st-and-goal. Brown bowled through a few people to get to the one, and scored on the next play. He was bottled up on the two-point conversion try, though, keeping the Colts' edge at 15-10.
After the Jets punted, the Colts kept Manning on the sideline and sent in Painter. They went three-and-out, though got the ball back with 1:38 in the third after another New York punt.
"I was prepared that potentially could be the plan," Manning said. "I was told to be flexible throughout the game. That wasn't a surprise when that news was told to me. We tried to score as many points as we could. Liked to have scored some more points while we were in there."
On the first play of the series, Painter was sacked from behind by Calvin Pace and lost the ball. It bounced back toward the end zone, and Douglas leapt on it before crawling across the goal line for a score that was upheld after a Colts challenge. The two-point conversion made it an 18-15 game, and the Jets didn't trail again.
The Colts again went three-and-out, gaining no yards, to allow the Jets to start a drive at the Indianapolis 45. Jay Feely drilled a 43-yard field goal, pushing the Jets' lead to 21-15 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
New York essentially put the game away with a 79-yard scoring drive on its next series. Jones' 29-yard run down the right sideline got the ball to the one, and after he was stuffed twice, got into the end zone on 3rd-and-goal. Another two-point conversion made it 29-15.
Painter completed a 22-yard pass to Tom Santi on the opening play of the next Colts drive, but he was intercepted by Dwight Lowery just two plays later, as the Jets cruised to the victory.
Aside from their first drive of the third quarter, with Manning at the helm, the Colts had just 23 net yards and one first down in the second half.
Indianapolis took the lead on Addai's 21-yard touchdown run with 6:55 left in the first quarter, though a deflected extra point kept it a 6-0 game. Adam Vinatieri connected on a 22-yard field goal shortly into the second quarter, and Feely's 35-yarder with 1:44 left trimmed the Jets' deficit to 9-3 heading into halftime.
The Jets hold a tiebreaker over Houston (head-to-head), Pittsburgh (conference record) and Baltimore (common opponents). The Texans, Steelers and Ravens are all 8-7 and aiming for one of the AFC's wild card spots...Manning entered the game with 49,841 passing yards. Brett Favre, Dan Marino and John Elway are the other quarterbacks who have thrown for 50,000 yards...Smith's return tied for the second-longest in NFL history...The Colts had a chance to set a franchise record for most wins in a season.
12/27 22:08:53 ET
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