Jaguars turn up volume ahead of visit by Colts
Jacksonville players seem to feel slighted by unbeaten Indy
Jacksonville's 10-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts was a bitter one to swallow, and Jaguars running back Fred Taylor was still choking it down. He stood in the RCA Dome visitors' locker room after that September game, buttoning his shirt and considering the question.
Has this become a rivalry?
"Depends on how you look at it," replied Taylor. "They don't think too much of us; they're still worried about the Patriots.
"They've won the division the last two years. If you want to be up there with the big dogs, you've got to beat the best. So we've got to go at them. For us, it's a rivalry."
The Jaguars (9-3) will get their chance to "go at them" and avenge that loss Sunday, and the Colts (12-0) have plenty to play for as well. A Colts victory would clinch the AFC South title and the conference's No. 1 seed. The perks that attend the top seeding are a first-round bye and home field during the divisional and conference rounds.
"It doesn't get any bigger," Colts guard Jake Scott said Sunday after his team's 35-3 victory over Tennessee. "It's a big game for both teams."
That isn't likely to mollify Jacksonville. The Jaguars seem to feel slighted by the Colts, a notion reinforced by remarks defensive end Reggie Hayward made in Sports Illustrated last week.
"Screw the Colts," Hayward said. "Put that in your magazine. The reason we play them good is because we're good."
The Colts readily acknowledge that.
"Those guys are confident because they have a right to be. It's not like we've dominated the series," left tackle Tarik Glenn said. "Year in and year out, those guys have played us hard and well and we expect to get the best out of them."
The Colts are 19-4 in the AFC South over the division's three-plus seasons of existence. Jacksonville is responsible for half the losses.
The Jaguars won 27-24 at the RCA Dome last season on Josh Scobee's 53-yard field goal with 38 seconds to play.
They rushed for 174 yards and limited the Colts to 47 yards on the ground while winning 28-23 at home in 2003.
In seven meetings since the Jaguars and Colts became division brethren, the average margin of victory has been six points. It never has been greater than 10.
The Sept. 18 game at the Dome was intense and bitterly contested, even bringing accusations that Colts defensive linemen were employing dirty tactics (vehemently denied by coach Tony Dungy and his players).
Sunday figures to be just as tense.
Jacksonville has won its past five games, the Colts their past 12. Neither is inclined to blink.
"They always play us close games," Dungy said.
"We understand how it's going to be when we play them. We're expecting a great game and a lot of intensity and I think it will be fun for TV, fun for the NFL, and we're looking forward to it."
The Colts have not earned a No. 1 seed since the current playoff format was implemented in 1990. They have been a No. 2 only once, in 1999, when Tennessee eliminated them in the divisional round at the dome, 19-16.
The Jaguars were the AFC's No. 1 seed that season, and they have been fighting to reclaim something approaching that status ever since.
The Jaguars might or might not choose to talk more trash this week. The latter seemed likely Sunday, when defensive lineman Marcus Stroud told the Florida Times-Union, "We're going to treat (the Colts) like the Browns or Arizona or any other team."
Put that on your bulletin board.
It's all the same to the Colts, center Jeff Saturday said.
"Whoever wants to talk trash can do that," Saturday said. "We're not one of those teams that talks trash. We let our play on the field take care of it. If I were them, I wouldn't be talking trash. It's just not a big deal. We'll go out there and hopefully come home with a big win."
Call Star reporter Phil Richards at (317) 444-6408.
Do the words GROW UP mean anything? Seriously.