I think most Jaguar fans will happily recall this game from last season. Despite coming off back-to-back 25 point losses, including the worst home loss in franchise history the week before, the city and the team were fired up for a showdown with the division rival Colts. As the first division game of the season for the Jaguars, the season was wide open. The Jaguars always bring their best against the Colts, so a win in this game would be considered a season-changing victory. The Jaguars have a consistent game plan, especially against the Colts: run the ball to counteract their fantastic pass rushers, have a 2:1 ratio of time of possession in the game, thus keeping the hot Colt offense behind Peyton Manning on the sideline as long as possible, and limit the big plays on defense as much as possible. Justin Durant and Sean Considine were both injured, so Russell Allen and Gerald Alexander got the start.
An interesting comparison going in (although I think there is no comparison): through three games, Peyton Manning had thrown for 1,013 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. David Garrard had thrown for 4 touchdowns, but 5 interceptions.
- The Colts offense sets the tempo of this game from the first drive. A nice kick return followed by an Addai run for 5 already have the offense at midfield. A hitch to Reggie Wayne, followed by a screen to Dallas Clark had the defense on their heels. Those tight end screens seem to be an issue as Jaguar linebackers never seem to be in the right position. A couple passes and runs put the offense deep in Jaguar territory. An easy stretch on 1st and goal to Joseph Addai, the Colts' bread-and-butter running play, springs him into the end zone untouched. 7-0 Colts. The Colts only encountered one third down deep in Jaguar territory the whole drive.
- The Jaguar offense isn't phased by the score and sticks to the plan. Maurice Jones-Drew runs of 5, 9, and 8 yards gets the ball moving. On a 3rd and 1 Jones-Drew takes a toss for 4 yards to make sure the drive continues. A bubble screen to Mike Thomas nets 21 yards, as it's perfectly executed, Sims-Walker holds his block, practically on two defenders, and the speed of Mike Thomas is quickly noticed. From the Indianapolis 25, Dirk Koetter unveils a masterful play that leaves the stadium erupting:
- David Garrard takes the snap looking like a toss to Jones-Drew, bootlegs in front of him, turns on the jets on what would be an option play, makes the safety miss on the fake pitch to Jones-Drew, and barrels through a couple of small defensive backs into the end zone tying the game 7-7. The stadium goes nuts at the masterful nature of the play and the perfect execution of it.
- The Jaguar defense steps up and causes a three and out. David Jones breaks up a pass to Wayne on first down, Morrison penetrates on a shotgun draw to Addai that loses 5 yards, and on third down Manning is forced to roll out from the pressure, throws across his body to a covered Dallas Clark, which falls incomplete.
- The Jaguar offense continues to roll. Starting at the Colt 45 (no pun intended), a run by Jones-Drew, followed by a whimsical reverse to Mike Thomas for 19 yards, and finally another run by Jones-Drew on a cutback for 14 yards puts the Jaguars in scoring position to start the second quarter.
- A couple Jones-Drew runs for 5 yards leaves the offense at a 3rd and goal from the Colts' 1 yard line. An easy blast to Jones-Drew up the middle gets into the end zone and the Jaguars take the lead 14-7. The game is looking well and the team that failed to put up points the week before was 2 for 2 on offense already.
- The Colts offense takes back momentum. A couple quick out routes to Reggie Wayne (a recurring theme that was there all day) and a couple Addai runs put the Colts at midfield. I will take credit in calling this next play before it happened. All day, Wayne was burning David Jones on the out routes because he'd have a 7 yard cushion off of him to start every play. Wisely, as any aware quarterback would do, Manning directed Wayne to run a double-move the next play, which Jones proceeded to bite on, trying to jump the out route, and leaves Wayne open for a 26 yard hookup. The drive continues and at the Jaguar 7 yard line, Manning points something out to Dallas Clark before the play, probably noticing no one was matched up on him. Immediately as the ball is snapped, Manning fires it to a wide-open, uncovered Clark for an easy touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 going to halftime.
Key stats at half time: Indianapolis Colts: 118 passing yards, 22 rushing yards, 140 total
Jacksonville Jaguars: 73 passing yards, 113 rushing yards, 186 total
Both offenses have been rolling well, and besides a nice 3 and out forced by the Jaguar defense, it's been all offense by both teams.