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Thursday, January 13, 2011
Searching for AFC South game of the year

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

ESPN.com sent me to 18 games including the playoffs this season.

Ranking them from one to 18 calls for more nuance than I am capable of providing. But a one to five star rating system seems to fit.

Let me make my criteria here clear: It's personal preference. I like close games with tension that come down to the end and are jam-packed with storylines. I hate blowouts no matter how much you think one says about your team.

Let’s zip through the games I saw live, mention a few excellent ones I missed and consider doing some balloting for the division’s game of the season.

Sept. 12 -- Indianapolis at Houston

Arian Foster introduces himself to America in grand fashion. Texans fans begin making calls about Super Bowl tickets. -- Four stars

Sept 19 -- NY Giants at Indianapolis

Only one Manning brother is compelling on "Sunday Night Football," as Eli puts millions to bed. -- Two stars

Sept. 26 -- Dallas at Houston

The Texans plunge back to Earth in disappointing fashion as the Cowboys recover from an 0-2 start. -- Two stars

Oct. 3 -- Indianapolis at Jacksonville

The Jaguars keep pulling ahead, the Colts keep pulling even. Jim Caldwell’s controversial timeout gives Jacksonville a chance to get Josh Scobee inside 60 yards, and he hits a winning 59-yard field goal as time expired. -- Five stars

Oct. 10 -- Kansas City at Indianapolis

A pretty uninteresting 19-9 Colts win features a lot of field goals and some good defense by both teams. -- Two stars

Oct. 18 -- Tennessee at Jacksonville

Both starting quarterbacks are knocked out during the game so we see Kerry Collins vs. Trent Edwards in a 30-3 Titans yawner that is never in question. The worst game I attended. -- One star

Oct. 24 -- Philadelphia at Tennessee

Kenny Britt comes off bar fight accusations, sits early, then catches seven balls for 225 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-19 win over the Eagles. -- Three stars

Nov. 1 -- Houston at Indianapolis

Poor play-calling means the Texans don’t get enough touches for Foster and Andre Johnson as the Colts avenge the opening day loss. -- Two stars

Nov. 7 -- Indianapolis at Philadelphia

The Colts stall too often on offense, but still have a chance to win at the end. A Peyton Manning interception kills the chance for a winning field goal. -- Three stars

Nov. 14 -- Tennessee at Miami

Randy Moss’ debut with the Titans. He’s part of the only visiting team to lose at Sun Life Stadium all season. -- Two stars

Nov. 21 -- Indianapolis at New England

The Colts mount a late challenge, but fall short in Foxborough as they did in Philadelphia. A late pick by Manning means there is no opportunity for a tying field goal attempt at the end. -- Four stars

Nov. 28 -- Tennessee at Houston

The Titans are down to rookie Rusty Smith at quarterback, so the Texans are finally able to defend the pass. -- One star

Dec. 5 -- Jacksonville at Tennessee

The Jaguars hold the ball forever and run it 53 times, avenging the "Monday Night Football" loss and taking temporary control of the division. -- Two stars

Dec. 9 -- Indianapolis at Tennessee

The Titans make this Thursday night interesting in the second half, when Jeff Fisher makes some decisions we spent some time debating. -- Three stars

Dec. 13 -- Baltimore at Houston

It’s a dud for a long time. Then the Texans mount their typical late comeback in brilliant fashion. It’s all followed by the harshest ending of the year -- Matt Schaub’s interception that is returned for a touchdown in overtime. – Five stars

Dec. 19 -- Jacksonville at Indianapolis

Austin Collie is unstoppable before he leaves the game with a concussion. The Jaguars simply can’t keep up with the Colts in a game that largely decided the division. -- Three stars

Jan. 2 -- Tennessee at Indianapolis

The Colts need a last-second field goal to get their 10th win and beat the Titans who played quite well. But the Jaguars’ loss in Houston minutes earlier ensured Indy of the division crown. -- Four stars

Jan. 8 -- NY Jets at Indianapolis, wild-card game

A playoff game that features a field goal that looks like a game-winner, followed by another as time expires that is a game-winner. Top flight tension and another controversial timeout to boot. -- Five stars

Some I missed:

Oct. 17 -- Indianapolis at Washington.
Nov. 14 – Houston at Jacksonville.
Dec. 2 -- Houston at Philadelphia.

So what’s the division’s game of the year? If you give me comments to sort through, I’ll make a declaration, maybe with a few runners-up.