“I wasn’t warmed up yet,” Taylor said.
Indeed, Taylor and the Jacksonville Jaguars were just getting started.
Maurice Drew ran for a career-high 166 yards and two TDs, Taylor added 131 yards and a score before leaving with a sore right hamstring and the Jaguars literally ran the Indianapolis Colts out of town and maybe out of contention for home-field advantage in the AFC with a surprising 44-17 victory Sunday.
The Jaguars (8-5) finished with 375 yards rushing—tied for the second most in the NFL since the 1970 merger and the most since Cincinnati gained 407 yards against Denver on Oct. 22, 2000.
“I haven’t seen anything like that since I watched NFL films,” Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer said.
The Colts (10-3) spent much of the week working on tackling, trying to solidify the league’s worst run defense and solve their biggest weakness. Instead, they were worse than ever.
“I probably could have had 78 or so on two carries,” Jacksonville defensive end Bobby McCray said. “They probably would have pulled me early to save me for next week.”
The Jaguars expected to run the ball well—they had 191 yards rushing in the first meeting—but no one saw this coming.
It started with the first play, when Taylor took a handoff at the 6-yard line and nearly went the distance.
“He set the tone for us,” coach Jack Del Rio said.
David finally knocked Taylor out of bounds, but Drew scored on the next play.
The Jags ran at will in the opening half, controlled the clock and kept Peyton Manning & Co. on the sideline—executing the game plan to perfection. Taylor had all of his 131 yards at halftime, Drew had 118 and the Jaguars led 24-10.
It could have been worse.
Nonetheless, there was little the Jaguars could do wrong. They blocked a punt, harassed Manning most of the day and shut down the running game altogether (allowed 34 yards).
Even when Derrick Wimbush slipped trying to field the second half kickoff, Drew scooped it up and ran untouched 93 yards for a score and a 31-10 lead.
Drew ran so much—the rookie finished with 303 all-purpose yards—he started cramping up in the third quarter and had to get intravenous fluids.
With Taylor and Drew out of the game, Jacksonville turned to Alvin Pearman, who had 71 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
“It’s hard for words to describe it,” said Del Rio, who improved to 2-0 in his Reebok-issued sport coat and teal tie. “It was a great day running the ball, and I felt like we had some things that we’d be good at and we executed well.”
The Jaguars beat Indianapolis for the first time since 2004 and improved their chances of returning to the postseason. The Colts had won three in a row in the series and were looking to clinch their fourth consecutive division title.
Now, they’re trying to regroup from a third loss in four games and wondering whether they’ve gone from the leading candidate to secure the conference’s No. 1 seed to a possible wild-card team.
“We need a convincing win where we can get our confidence and swagger back going into the last three games of the season and into the playoffs,” linebacker Cato June said.
Indianapolis—which finishes the season against Cincinnati, Houston and Miami—knows what went wrong. The defense hasn’t been able to stop the run all season.
The Colts gave up 251 yards on the ground in the first half—nearly 100 yards more than they averaged giving up in the previous 12 games.
“The thing I told the team is that we will see what we are made of from here,” said Colts coach Tony Dungy, whose team suffered its worst loss since a 41-0 drubbing against the New York Jets in the 2002 postseason. “It’s fixable. We are going to have to get it fixed to get where we want to go.”
Indianapolis’ defensive woes overshadowed Marvin Harrison’s accomplishment. Harrison became the fourth player in NFL history with 1,000 receptions Sunday, joining Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Cris Carter.
Harrison finished with six catches for 101 yards. Reggie Wayne had eight receptions for 110 yards. Manning finished 25-of-50 for 313 yards.
Manning and Harrison hooked up for a 42-yard gain on the game’s opening play. It could have been a touchdown, but Manning badly underthrew Harrison. Three plays later, Brandon Stokley dropped a perfect pass in the end zone on third down—a momentum-changer.
Then the Jags started to run—and couldn’t be stopped.
“We wanted to get to 400, but 375 isn’t bad,” Drew said.
Stokley injured his Achilles’ tendon and did not return. … Colts SS Antoine Bethea (shoulder) left the game early and did not return. … The Bears also ran for 375 yards, doing it against Green Bay on Oct. 30, 1977. … The Jags improved to 6-1 at home.