By Michael Marot, AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Peyton Manning has the Colts right back in playoff position.
The four-time league MVP threw two TD passes Sunday, avoided throwing an interception for the second straight game, and led Indianapolis to a season-saving 34-24 victory over Jacksonville.
For the Colts (8-6), it was essentially win or forget about the playoffs. The victory moved them into a tie for the AFC South lead with the Jags (8-6), squared the head-to-head tiebreaker, and put Indy in position to clinch a seventh division title in eight years just by winning its final two games.
For Jacksonville, it was more frustration against the team it has been chasing for almost a decade. A victory would have clinched the Jags' first AFC South crown, and now they'll need help to win it.
Manning wasn't going to let the defending AFC champs go down without a fight, and the four-time league MVP delivered one of his most efficient performances of the season. He finished 29 of 39 for 229 yards and was helped again by the Colts' suddenly resurgent ground game.
Indy finished with 155 yards rushing, its third-highest total of the season. Donald Brown scored on a 43-yard run and ran 14 times for a career-high 129 yards, the first 100-yard game of his two-year career.
The game went nothing like the Jags expected.
Maurice Jones-Drew rushed 15 times for 46 yards, ending his streak of consecutive 100-yard games at six with his worst game ever against Indy. Jacksonville turned the ball over on downs at its 38 early in the second half, and when it had a chance to tie the score by recovering an onside kick with less than 2 minutes to go, linebacker Tyjuan Hagler sprinted 41 yards for a touchdown to seal the victory.
Manning, the Jags' old nemesis, was back to his usual self.
He opened the game with a 7-yard TD pass to Austin Collie, and went back to Collie for a 27-yard TD after Josh Scobee made a 22-yard field goal for the Jags. That gave Indy a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Jacksonville closed to 14-10 when Mike Thomas scored on a 78-yard punt return, a play on which the Colts contended he signaled for a fair catch.
It didn't matter. Two plays after the Jags turned over the ball on downs in the third quarter, Brown found a seam and raced down the left sideline for the 43-yard score to make it 21-10.
The Colts took advantage of two more Jags turnovers, converting both into short field goals, and the second gave Indy a 27-17 lead early in the fourth period.
The Jags made one more run at the Colts. David Garrard threw a 1-yard pass to Mike Sims-Walker right after the 2-minute warning to make it 27-24.
But the failed onside kick ended it.
Indy's celebration was tarnished by another frightening scene involving Collie. The receiver was injured late in the first half when the forearm of linebacker Daryl Smith hit Collie in the head. Collie lay motionless for several minutes before sitting up and eventually walked off the field with a concussion. He did not return.
It's the third time since Nov. 7 that Collie has left a game early because of a concussion or concussion-like symptoms.
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