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Colts win finale, will play Jets in first round

12/30/2002

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indianapolis Colts hoped on Sunday to
fix some of their flaws in time for the AFC playoffs. They settled
for a win.

How far do you see the Colts advancing in the playoffs?
Not very far. They have some big-time players in Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning, but playing physical football against them can be effective. The Colts go on the road to play the Jets next week in the first round, away from their indoor home. The Jets are on a roll heading into the postseason. I'll be surprised if the Colts win.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

The Colts had another sluggish first half, got a scare when
Marvin Harrison was hurt midway through the third quarter and
needed an 11-yard touchdown pass with 2:26 left to put away the
Jacksonville Jaguars 20-13 on Sunday.

For Colts coach Tony Dungy, it was good enough.

"That was a big win for us, an important win for us,'' he said.
"We had to play 60 minutes of football, and that's kind of the way
you want it.''

A thing of beauty, it was not.

The Colts (10-6) struggled early on offense and couldn't stop
the Jaguars' ground game, either.

Indianapolis needed two Jacksonville penalties to keep late
scoring drives going in the game's final minutes and also took
advantage of a late melee, in which the teams were called for
offsetting personal fouls. That allowed the Colts to run another
play on third-and-4, and Manning hooked up with Marcus Pollard in
the back corner of the end zone for the game-winner.

It wasn't the design the Colts had plotted for their
regular-season finale, nor the tuneup they envisioned for next
week's first-round game at the New York Jets.

But it was effective.

Peyton Manning went 20-of-28 for a modest 146 yards and a
touchdown.

Edgerrin James followed his worst career game with a performance
more worthy of a two-time NFL rushing champ. He carried 15 times
for 86 yards and finished 11 short of his third 1,000-yard season
and a $1.5 million bonus.

"I don't want to sit there and then go out next week wondering
if I'm ready,'' James said in his first interview with the local
media during the regular season began. "The bottom line is, I got
myself back together.''

Even Harrison, who has had arguably the best season of any
receiver in NFL history, wasn't himself.

He caught six passes for a season-low 28 yards to finish his
record-breaking year with 143 receptions and 1,722 yards -- the
fourth-most in league history. He came out after injuring his left
arm in the third quarter but returned on the Colts' next series.

The Jaguars (6-10) certainly didn't play like one of four AFC
teams eliminated from playoff contention before the weekend started
-- or like a team about to go through a housecleaning -- coach Tom
Coughlin's job could be in jeopardy.

Quarterback Mark Brunell, who also has worried about his future
in Jacksonville, missed the game because of a strained right
hamstring.

Rookie David Garrard replaced Brunell in the lineup and was
13-of-26 for 135 yards while running 11 times for 44 yards. And the
defense created havoc for the Colts, who never really got in sync
offensively.

"I was proud of the way we played,'' Coughlin said. "I was
proud of our competitiveness and the way we prepared to play coming
in here.''

But the Jaguars made a lot of mistakes, too.

With Jacksonville leading 10-3 and 1:01 left in the first half,
Dwight Freeney forced a Garrard fumble and Idrees Bashir recovered
at the Jaguars 23. Four plays later, James Mungro ran 1 yard to tie
the score at 10.

After Danny Boyd kicked a 23-yard field goal to give
Jacksonville a 13-10 lead with 13:55 remaining in the game, the
Jaguars appeared to have Indianapolis stopped -- until a running
into the kicker penalty gave the ball back to the Colts.

Manning took advantage, scrambling for 8 yards on a fourth-and-1
and hooking up with Troy Walters for a 13-yard completion on
third-and-9. Four plays later, Mike Vanderjagt's 27-yard field goal
tied the score at 13.

Walters' 16-yard punt return set up the game-winning drive.

Again it appeared the Colts had been stopped at the Jaguars 24,
but rookie John Henderson was called for a personal foul that gave
Indianapolis a first down at the Jacksonville 12.

Manning needed only three plays -- and the melee that wiped out a
holding penalty on the Colts -- to find Pollard for the game-winner
and give the Colts a more upbeat attitude entering the playoffs.

"We knew a win would secure the fifth spot. That's what we
wanted,'' Manning said. "Now everybody is feeling good about
themselves.''

Game notes
Freeney had two sacks, giving him 13 for the season.
That broke the Colts' franchise record of 12, set by Chad Bratzke
in 1999, and gave him the second-most by a rookie in NFL history.
Jevon Kearse had 14½ in 1999. ... Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith
moved past Ozzie Newsome and into 18th place on the NFL's career
reception list. Smith has 664 receptions, Newsome had 662. He also
passed Raymond Berry for 20th in all-time yards. Smith has 9,284,
nine more than Berry.

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