Colts Win to Seize Control of AFC South
Sunday, December 2, 2007; 4:26 PM
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts are on the verge of their fifth straight AFC South title. They can thank Peyton Manning and instant replay.
Manning threw four touchdown passes, two after the Colts won replay challenges, to beat Jacksonville 28-25 Sunday and take a two-game lead with four games to go.
It was the second victory by the Colts (10-2) over the Jaguars (8-4) this season, essentially giving them a three-game lead with four games left in a division they've controlled since Tennessee won it in the first year of its current configuration.
The Colts' first two TDs came in a bizarre first quarter in which there were three replay challenges _ two won by Indianapolis, the other lost by Jacksonville.
The first one came on the Jaguars' first possession when Robert Mathis sacked David Garrard and knocked the ball free. The officials first ruled Jacksonville recovered at its 11, but Colts coach Tony Dungy appealed and referee Terry McAuley ruled the Colts' Raheem Brock recovered.
Two plays later, Manning threw a 5-yard TD pass to Dallas Clark.
On the Colts' next possession, the officials ruled Ben Utecht fumbled. Dungy appealed, McAuley ruled it an incomplete pass, and on the next play, Manning threw a 48-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne.
Manning, who was 19-of-28 for 288 yards, also threw a 14-yarder to Clark and a 1-yard shovel pass to running back Luke Lawton for scores. He now has 23 TD passes for the season, tying him with Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to throw more than 20 in each of their first 10 NFL seasons.
Jacksonville, which ran for 168 yards, finally got going after the second Manning TD pass. The Jags took more than 11 minutes to go 84 yards in 16 plays to cut it to 14-7 on Maurice Jones-Drew's 2-yard run.
But Manning drove the Colts right back downfield, hitting Clark from 14 yards to make it 21-7 at intermission. The Jaguars cut it to 21-14 on another time-consuming drive to start the second half on Garrard's 2-yard pass to Marcedes Lewis.
Reggie Nelson's end-zone interception of Manning ended an Indy threat and Josh Scobee's 47-yard field goal cut the Colts lead to 21-17 early in the fourth quarter. But the Colts scored again on the shovel pass to Lawton, who was just signed this week after being cut earlier in the season.
Antoine Bethea's interception of Garrard, the first against the Jacksonville QB in 231 passes this season, stopped one drive. But he threw a 17-yard TD pass to Dennis Northcutt, then bulled in for a 2-point conversion, cutting it to 28-25 with 2:47 left.
Indianapolis ran out the clock to win it.
Garrard was 24-of-29 for 257 yards for Jacksonville. Fred Taylor had 104 yards in 14 carries, his second straight 100-yard game after having none this season.