The Indianapolis Colts have had a very tumultuous season to say the least, but they are starting to kick it into gear at exactly the right time.
Peyton Manning answered the bell and had a very efficient day, throwing for 229 yards on 29-of-39 passing, with two touchdowns. But it could be argued that Manning was not the hero this day.
The Colts finally found a ground attack, as Donald Brown led the way with a career-high 129 yards on 14 carries, which included a career-long 49-yard run and a score. Overall the Colts rushed for 155 yards on the day, which is their third-highest total this year.
The defense has to be given a lot of credit as well, as they held Maurice Jones-Drew to a harmless 46 yards on 15 carries, which obviously put more pressure on the shoulders of QB David Garrard to deliver in this big game.
And Garrard did have a good day, passing for close to 300 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw costly interception to Antoine Bethea.
Will the Colts make the playoffs?
The special teams were a big part of this game as well, really making the score a lot closer than it should have been. The Jaguars returned a punt for a touchdown, but returner Mike Thomas was clearly waving his hands in the air to signal a fair catch, thus he could not run back the punt—but the refs gave it to him.
However, the special teams would ultimately be the undoing of the Jaguars, as a late fourth-quarter onside kick was returned by Tyjuan Hagler for a touchdown to seal the victory for Indy.
The win was bittersweet, though, because WR Austin Collie, who caught both of Manning's TD passes, sustained yet another concussion late in the second quarter, which possibly could end his season. Obviously Collie is one of Manning's favorite targets, and if he is indeed lost for the year, the Colts may have trouble in the playoffs—if they make it to the playoffs.
Speaking of making the playoffs, with the win on Sunday, the Colts are now tied with the Jaguars at 8-6 atop the AFC South standings, and they control the ever important tiebreaker between the two teams.
Why is the tiebreaker so important: Well, I think that both teams will finish the season at 10-6, considering that the Jaguars play the Redskins and Texans while the Colts play the Raiders and Titans. Fairly easy schedules, but with the tiebreaker in hand, the Colts win the division and would play a wild-card team in Indy for the first round of the playoffs.
So it is wide open for the Colts now—they just have to stay focused and win these games that they should win. Or as I would put it, carpe diem, which means "seize the day."