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(Thursday, December 17th)
Final Score: Indianapolis 35, Jacksonville 31
Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - Peyton Manning's 65-yard touchdown strike to Reggie Wayne streaking down the left sideline proved to be the game-winner in the fourth, as Indianapolis remained perfect and staved off division rival Jacksonville, 35-31.
Manning didn't miss a pass in the first half, finishing 23-of-30 for 308 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception. Wayne caught five passes for 132 yards and Dallas Clark added a game-best seven catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns for the Colts (14-0), who are the third team in NFL history to start a season 14-0.
"We have had some extremely close games. We feel fortunate to be undefeated. The key is we have got better during the season, and hopefully we are playing our top level of football down the stretch," said Manning.
David Garrard threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns, but threw one fatal interception high over Mike Thomas and into the hands of Jacob Lacey in the closing seconds in Indianapolis territory. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 110 yards and a touchdown, while catching five passes for 30 yards and another score. The Jaguars (7-7) are still in the mix for one of two final berths in the AFC playoffs as a wild card entry.
"Take your hats off to the Colts. They have found a way all year. Peyton is special," said Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio.
Jacksonville used a keep-away offensive approach throughout the first half, starting its first drive of the game off with a healthy dose of Jones-Drew. Also included in the 13-play march was three third-down passes to Mike Sims- Walker, and Josh Scobee booted through a 50-yard bomb for the game's first points.
Indianapolis wasted little time on its opening march, moving 80 yards and 14 plays in a drive that didn't end until the second period. Manning completed three third-down passes, including a 20-yard strike to Clark. Manning found his tight end in blanket coverage near the back of the end zone, as Clark bobbled the ball but corralled it on his back for a six-yard score.
Again, Jones-Drew bulldozed his way through the Indy defense with success on Jacksonville's second possession. Punishing seven- and eight-yard runs preceded a nine-yard scoring pass from Garrard, who rolled to his right on the play, to Jones-Drew for a 10-7 lead.
The edge was short lived as Chad Simpson took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and a 14-10 advantage. The Jaguars were unfazed, moving 71 yards on 10 plays on another drive ending with their star running back in the end zone. A 25-yard toss to the tight end Marcedes Lewis and a 10-yard sprint off left tackle by Jones-Drew keyed a drive finished off by Jones-Drew's three- yard bull rush up the middle.
Manning was again perfect in the two-minute drill, and he finished the first half a perfect 12-for-12. He found Wayne for 22 yards after a 15-yard Joseph Addai run and later threaded the needle to Austin Collie for a 23-yard score and a 21-17 game.
Indianapolis blinked first as Manning's pass to Clark was tipped by the tight end into the waiting arms of the Jaguars, who then marched 39 yards for the go-ahead score on Garrard's 16-yard TD toss to Sims-Walker.
The Colts answered in a hurry, moving 80 yards on seven plays in just over three minutes. Manning ate up chunks of yardage on 21- and 16-yard tosses to Wayne then found Clark down the seam, and the tight end bounced off a tackler and crossed the field and into the end zone for a 27-yard score and a 28-24 lead.
After a Thomas 43-yard kickoff return, the Jaguars moved into position thanks in part to a 17-yard pass to Torry Holt and a 11-yard toss over the middle to Jones-Drew. Thomas then registered a touchdown as Garrard stood in the pocket and deftly sneaked a pass into a crossing Thomas' arms for a 13-yard trip to paydirt and a three-point lead entering the fourth.
The Colts have won seven games when trailing at one point in fourth quarter...Addai ran for 59 yards for the Colts...Sims-Walker caught six passes for 64 yards...Collie caught three passes for 27 yards.
12/17 23:54:09 ET