Colts get by Jaguars, earn home field

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Dec. 11, 2005) -- With most of their goals accomplished, the Indianapolis Colts can now turn their attention to history.

But don't expect them to look too far ahead.

Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes to Marvin Harrison, Mike Vanderjagt kicked four field goals and the Colts remained unbeaten with a 26-18 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Indy became the fourth team in NFL history to start 13-0, locked up a third consecutive division title and secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The team has little left to play for over the final three games.

Well, except for matching the elusive mark set by the 1972 Miami Dolphins.


"Going 16-0 would be great, but it's not the most important thing," coach Tony Dungy said. "I like history. I appreciate it. But I just think it's best to not look too far ahead."

The Colts joined the 1934 Chicago Bears, 1972 Dolphins and 1998 Denver Broncos as the league's only teams to start 13-0. But the Dolphins were the lone team to finish the regular season unbeaten and sweep through the playoffs.

Dungy and his players have been fielding questions regarding their pursuit of perfection for weeks. They downplayed it for the most part, but have little else to talk about now.

Dungy must decide whether to rest players and reduce the risk of injury or try to run the table and chase Miami's mark.

The Colts host the San Diego Chargers next week.

"We definitely want to win," Dungy said. "We're going to play to win and go from there. We're going to keep our mantra: one game at a time. We're going to do everything we can to beat San Diego and we're not going to look ahead."

Manning picked apart Jacksonville's secondary all game -- something he didn't do in the teams' first meeting. He had 122 yards passing in a 10-3 win against the Jaguars (9-4) in the second week of the season. He nearly doubled that by halftime, and finished 24 of 36 for 324 yards. He was sacked a season-high three times.

Harrison caught six passes for a season-high 137 yards.

Manning directed an 89-yard drive on Indy's opening possession and capped it with a 9-yard pass to Harrison. They hooked up for another score early in the second quarter, a perfectly thrown 65-yard pass.

The Jaguars, who had their five-game winning streak snapped, scored twice in the final 4:08 and looked like they were going to get a final chance to tie the game.

They forced Indy into a third-down play with 1:39 remaining. But Manning completed a 12-yard pass under heavy pressure to Dallas Clark.

"It's one of those plays that you just trust Dallas will be in that spot, but I couldn't really see him," Manning said.

The Jaguars spent much of the week talking about how well they've matched up with the Colts, and repeatedly said they relished the chance to hand their division rival its first loss.

But this one was more of a mismatch until the closing minutes.

The Jags added to their woes with three turnovers and some foolish penalties.

"We beat ourselves up and down -- on offense, defense and special teams," Jags linebacker Mike Peterson said. "We didn't spoil their streak, but we can get another shot at them. They can be beat. This team isn't too much for us. Can we beat them? Hell, yeah."

QB David Garrard, starting his second game in place of Byron Leftwich, fumbled near the goal line. Kyle Brady fumbled three times and lost two. The Jaguars also were flagged seven times for 65 yards.

Coach Jack Del Rio drew one of them for yelling profanity as he threw the challenge flag at an official, a penalty that probably will come with a league fine.

"There are a lot of things said on the sideline that your children shouldn't hear," Del Rio said.

The Jaguars can still make the playoffs by winning their final three games against San Francisco, Houston and Tennessee.

"Hopefully we'll win out and see (the Colts) somewhere again," said Fred Taylor, who returned from a two-game absence and ran 10 times for 19 yards. "They're a good team. I'll give them credit. They're a good team, but we beat ourselves more than them being a good team. They're beatable."

Maybe so. But their record says otherwise.

"We will not let down," Colts defensive tackle Montae Reagor said. "We don't want to lose. 13-0 doesn't guarantee us anything. We want to keep our rhythm, keep our chemistry. We want to keep on playing until coach says no."

Notes: Jimmy Smith became the 13th player in NFL history to surpass 12,000 yards receiving. He finished with eight catches for 102 yards and a score. It was his third 100-yard game of the season and the 46th of his career. ... Manning surpassed 3,000 yards passing for the eighth straight year, the only quarterback to start his career like that. ... Colts LB Cato June was inactive because of injuries to his groin, knee and ankle.

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