Colts lose finale 19-13, win Luck sweepstakesBy MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer Monday, Jan 2, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay walked out of the visiting locker room and offered little insight into the team’s plans.
No update on injured quarterback Peyton Manning. No word on coach Jim Caldwell’s future. No indication on whether he plans to draft Andrew Luck.
This much is certain: the Colts have the No. 1 pick in April’s draft.
Indianapolis locked up the top spot Sunday, setting the stage to select the Stanford quarterback. They fell to 2-14 when Maurice Jones-Drew ran for a season-high 169 yards—clinching the NFL rushing title and breaking the franchise’s single-season record—to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 19-13 victory.
“We wanted to win the game, but we didn’t,” Irsay said. “It’s Sunday afternoon at 4:15. That’s where we stand, and obviously we wanted to come in and get a win. (Jones-Drew) is a great player and you’ve got to give him credit, but we wanted to finish three (wins) in a row. Beyond that, I don’t have anything else to say right now on anything.”
Manning hinted that he would welcome Luck.
“Like I said all along, the Colts are going to do what they have to do,” Manning said. “The draft is something the personnel department will address. They’ll deal with that as they see fit. As far as can I coexist with anybody? I think I can coexist with any player I’ve ever played with. I think I’ve always been a good teammate in that way. To speculate on how we’re going to draft, that’s more for other people to do, not the players.
“I can play with anybody. It’s all going to shake out.”
The Jaguars (5-11) became the first AFC South opponent to sweep Indianapolis since 2002 and gave outgoing owner Wayne Weaver a victory in his final game.
The Colts may have been the big winners, though. Indy would have dropped to the No. 2 spot in the draft with a victory in Jacksonville. Instead, Irsay will have the choice to draft Luck to join four-time MVP Manning.
Manning was on the sideline all season after neck surgery. On Sunday, he had a front-row spot for the Jones-Drew Show.
Jones-Drew started the day with a comfortable lead in the rushing race. And when Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy and Houston’s Arian Foster were inactive, it pretty much locked up the rushing title for Jacksonville’s stocky star.
But Jones-Drew wanted more. He talked earlier in the week about how special it would be to break Taylor’s franchise mark of 1,572 yards set in 2003.
He did it in style, taking a third-quarter handoff around the left side, breaking a tackle near the line of scrimmage and picking up 56 yards. It was his longest run in more than two years.
“As long as Mo stays healthy, he’ll break every single record I ever set,” Taylor said in a text message to The Associated Press. “He’s a special talent with great work habits and deserves to be rewarded as such.”
Jones-Drew also sealed the victory by picking up two first downs in the closing minutes, sending many of the 60,000 on hand to the exits on New Year’s Day.
He finished the season with 1,606 yards on the ground and 1,980 yards from scrimmage—the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the NFL’s worst offense.
“It’s easy to take all of the credit, but those guys did a heck of a job blocking two or three guys, running down the field to get extra blocks and making it easier on me,” Jones-Drew said.
The biggest applause of the day was for the Weavers. Wayne and his wife, Delores, were recognized at halftime. Wayne Weaver almost singlehandedly brought the team to Jacksonville in 1993. He sold the franchise to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan last month for $770 million.
The team honored Weaver and his wife with a video montage, gold-plated helmets and a spot in the Pride of the Jaguars, the team’s Hall of Fame. They joined left tackle Tony Boselli as the only ones in the Pride.
Khan officially takes over Wednesday. His biggest task is hiring a new coach.
The Colts could be in for changes, too.
Irsay must decide whether to pay Manning a $28 million bonus, let him become a free agent or work out a new deal with the franchise quarterback. Irsay has said that if Manning recovers from neck issues, he will be back in Indy, no matter the cost.
So Luck seems to be the only lock.
“This should be a fun time for the city of Indianapolis during the offseason,” said receiver Reggie Wayne, one of several free agents. “Despite the year we had, there are things to look forward to. So it should be exciting.”
Notes: Colts TE Justin Snow (concussion) and CB Chris Rucker (back) were injured during the game. …. Jones-Drew is the first player in franchise history to lead the NFL rushing. Taylor never finished better than sixth. … Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny (shoulder) left the game and did not return. … Jaguars coaches, none of them under contract beyond this season, have until Friday to clean out their stuff.