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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Their pulse rate never up, the Colts calmly fought back from another significant deficit Thursday night, topping the Jaguars and securing an AFC wild card berth.
Thanks to its 31-24 win over Jacksonville, Indianapolis will be the No. 5 seed.
Peyton Manning was surgically precise, connecting on his first 17 passes -- dropping them over defenders, slinging them through tight windows and lofting them to open receivers after double moves. He also caught Jacksonville with too many men on the field, drawing a penalty with a quick snap to convert a third down.
Jacksonville started big, building a 14-0 lead and for a time it looked like the Jaguars would be able to play keep-away like they had in a Week 3 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. But while the Jaguars had a lot of success moving the ball early on, broke a ton of tackles and kept the Colts' run game quiet, ultimately Manning was more than they could deal with.
Manning got the Colts back to even, then David Garrard handed the game away -- throwing a horrible interception that Keiwan Ratliff returned 35 yards for a touchdown with 4:48 remaining in the game. The Jaguars had a chance at a tying touchdown at the end, but Dwight Freeney sacked Garrard on the final play.
The Colts are now set to rest up in their season finale on Dec. 28 against the Titans -- a game that can't impact Indianapolis' positioning for the following week.
If Tennessee beats Pittsburgh on Sunday, that game won't have meaning for either team. If the Steelers win, the Titans will need to win and hope for a Steelers loss to the Browns in order to get the No. 1 seed.
Either way, with the Titans lining up for a bye, Jeff Fisher will play more top people longer than Tony Dungy will.