Though they often play tough against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars can’t expect to hold a Super Bowl contender scoreless for a second straight week as they visit the RCA Dome on Sunday in a matchup of undefeated teams.
Besides having never been shut out in 130 regular-season games since Manning’s arrival in 1998, the Colts (2-0) lead the NFL this season with 69 points and are third in total offense with 428.0 yards per game.
Jacksonville (2-0) did shut down the defending champions in its most recent performance, holding the Pittsburgh Steelers to 153 total yards and nine first downs in a 9-0 victory. The Jaguars spoiled Ben Roethlisberger’s return, intercepting two of his passes, and allowed Pittsburgh to cross midfield only once.
“We’ve been a ‘good’ defense,” Peterson said. “We’re trying to get in that ‘great’ category.”
The Jags could jump into that category by cooling off the Colts.
Manning threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday as Indianapolis scored on six of its first seven possessions and totaled 515 yards in a 43-24 home win over the Houston Texans. The Colts converted eight of their first 10 third-down chances and didn’t punt until early in the fourth quarter.
“The main thing our veterans are having to battle is enjoying regular-season victories,” Manning said. “All everybody wants to talk about is what you are going to do when you get to the playoffs? You hang 43 on a team, you ought to be happy about it.”
Manning was not happy with his performance the last time these teams met at the RCA Dome. He had the fourth-fewest passing yards of his career with 122 and completed only 13-of-28 in a 10-3 victory last Sept. 18.
In the second meeting last season, Dec. 11 at Alltel Stadium, Manning completed 24 of 36 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-18 victory.
Each of the last five matchups between these AFC South rivals have been decided by seven points or less, and the Jaguars have won two.
“They went 14-2 (last year) and we went 12-4 and the difference was they beat us twice,” Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said.
“This is a big game. I’m pretty confident they’ll have our full attention and we’ll have theirs.”
While breaking Johnny Unitas’ franchise record for career completions last week, Manning threw touchdown passes to three different receivers and none were to primary targets Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne.
Harrison still caught seven passes for 127 yards, and Wayne added six receptions for 135 yards. With 943 career receptions, Harrison is eight shy of Andre Reed for fourth place all-time.
Another bright spot from last week’s win for Indianapolis was seeing the ground game get going. The Colts had 125 yards on 35 carries, with Joseph Addai rushing for 82 on 16 attempts.
“We controlled the momentum, we controlled the game,” coach Tony Dungy said, “and did some awfully good things.”
Stopping the run is where Jacksonville excelled in its victory over Pittsburgh, setting a franchise record by allowing 26 rushing yards. Peterson played a big role in holding Willie Parker to 20 yards on 11 carries, and finished with a team-high seven tackles.
“If you come in here with the mind-set of running the ball on us, you may want to rethink that philosophy,” Jacksonville defensive end Paul Spicer said. “It ain’t going to be that easy.”
The Jaguars notched the fourth shutout win in franchise history and first since beating Houston 27-0 on Dec. 7, 2003.
Jacksonville’s offense, though, was kept out of the end zone.
“We moved the ball well, but we did a bad job of scoring points,” said Leftwich, who threw an interception. “To move to the next level, we’ve got to have more than nine points.”
The Colts will be without kicker Adam Vinatieri, who will miss the first game of his 11-year NFL career because of a lingering groin injury. Through two games, Vinatieri leads the league in scoring with 27 points on seven field goals and six extra points.