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(Sunday, January 1st)
Final Score: Jacksonville 19, Indianapolis 13
Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - The Indianapolis Colts are officially on the clock.
After winning two straight games to put some drama into which team would secure the first overall pick in April's NFL Draft, the Colts dropped a 19-13 decision to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday and will finish the season with the league's worst record.
The Colts (2-14) are now faced with an enviable dilemma. Do they select near- consensus No. 1 Andrew Luck, or trade it away with Peyton Manning set to come back from an injury that kept him sidelined for the entire dismal season?
Despite not taking a snap this season, Manning may have proven himself irreplaceable. The 35-year-old future Hall of Famer sat out after offseason neck surgery and watched his team stumble to an 0-13 start. The Colts rebounded with back-to-back wins -- possibly saving head coach Jim Caldwell's job -- but struggled in Sunday's finale.
Dan Orlovsky threw for 264 yards with a touchdown, two picks and a fumble, and Donald Brown led the Colts with 24 rushing yards on eight carries.
"It's been a long year," said Orlovsky. "I'm gonna shut my brain off from football for a while."
The Jaguars (5-11), meanwhile, were led by Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran for 169 yards to capture the league's season rushing title. Jones-Drew finished with 1,606 yards on the year and was a rare bright spot in a season which featured upheaval from the top down.
Change began in September, when the team cut ties with long-time quarterback David Garrard, continued in November with the firing of head coach Jack Del Rio and reached a head in December when Shahid Khan purchased the club from owners Wayne and Delores Weaver.
"It's easy to take all the credit," said Jones-Drew, "but [the offensive line] did a heck of a job blocking two, three guys, running down field getting extra blocks and it made it easier on me."
Rookie Blaine Gabbert, who started 14 games this season, completed 11-of-19 passes for 92 yards and a 23-yard touchdown pass to Chastin West, which gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead late in the first.
Adam Vinatieri responded with a 48-yard field goal early in the second, but Josh Scobee hit a 25-yarder shortly before the half to make it 10-3.
Vinatieri opened the third with a 20-yarder but the Jaguars, who had lost five of six entering Sunday, capitalized on a pair of Orlovsky turnovers and leaned on the legs of Jones-Drew and Scobee to close the season on a high note.
Jones-Drew reeled off a 56-yard run on the Jaguars' first drive of the second half, setting up Scobee's 32-yard boot. Less than a minute later, Orlovsky was intercepted in his own territory by Russell Allen and Scobee was good from 47 yards for a 16-6 lead.
Early in the fourth, Jeremy Mincey's strip sack of Orlovsky gave the Jaguars the ball near midfield, leading to Scobee's 39-yarder. Orlovsky, who split time with Curtis Painter this season in Manning's absence, responded with a touchdown pass to Austin Collie on the Colts' next drive.
The 12-yard catch-and-run made it 19-13 with 3:22 left, but Jones-Drew picked up a pair of first downs on the Jags' ensuing drive to seal the win.
Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998's draft, turns 36 in March...Mel Tucker acted as the Jaguars interim coach after Del Rio's firing...Gabbert was selected with the 10th pick in last April's draft out of Missouri...Khan will officially take over as Jacksonville's owner on January 4...The Jaguars won both meetings with the Colts this year.
01/01 18:36:29 ET
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