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Colts shrug off Jaguars, win way into playoffs

©Associated Press

December 30, 2002

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

Indianapolis 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 Jacksonville 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 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 that resulted in 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 winner.

Edgerrin James followed his worst career game with a performance more worthy of a two-time rushing champ -- 15 carries for 86 yards.

"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. "The bottom line is, I got myself back together."

Harrison 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 next series.

Manning needed three plays -- and the melee that wiped out a holding penalty on the Colts -- to find Pollard for the winner.

"We knew a win would secure the fifth spot (in the AFC playoffs). That's what we wanted," Manning said.

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