Colts lose their first game; Pats make playoffs

Published 9:49 am Monday, December 28, 2009

Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are perfect no more, and that’s just fine with them. They’ve got their sights set on making postseason history — even if that means taking a break in the regular season.

Coach Jim Caldwell pulled Manning and a handful of starters — avoiding potential injuries — for the previously unbeaten Colts in the third quarter, and the Jets took advantage by rallying for a 29-15 victory that ended the NFL’s longest regular-season winning streak at 23 games.

Caldwell, players and team president Bill Polian, however, said perfection was never the goal; winning the Super Bowl was. And on Sunday, they showed exactly what they meant.

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“Until any player in here is the head coach, you follow orders and you follow them with all of your heart,” Manning said. “That’s what we’ve done as players. We follow orders.”

The Colts (14-1) lost for the first time since Oct. 27, 2008, at Tennessee, ending a franchise-record 13-game winning streak at home. Meanwhile, the Jets (8-7) took control of their playoff destiny with the victory, and would make the postseason for the first time since 2006 with a win next week at home against AFC North champion Cincinnati.

The Jets sealed it with a 43-yard field goal and Thomas Jones’ 1-yard TD run.

Patriots 35, Jaguars 7

At Foxborough, Mass., Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, three to Randy Moss, and New England’s young defense put together its third straight solid game.

The Patriots (10-5) took the division after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002 despite an 11-5 record. Brady bounced back after throwing for just 307 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his previous two games.

Jacksonville dropped its third straight, and fourth in its last five after going 6-4.

Bengals 17, Chiefs 10

At Cincinnati, Carson Palmer’s touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco completed a 98-yard drive in the closing minutes, sending the Bengals to the AFC North championship.

The Bengals (10-5) moved into the playoffs for only the second time in the past 19 years after dealing with the death of receiver Chris Henry. The teary practices and locker-room grief seemed to show against the Chiefs (3-12), who stayed close in a mistake-filled game.

Palmer threw for a pair of touchdowns, and Cedric Benson ran for 133 yards in an offense that managed only two drives all day.

Packers 48, Seahawks 10

At Green Bay, Wis., the Packers clinched a playoff spot by forcing four interceptions by Matt Hasselbeck, then getting a big boost from the Carolina Panthers.

The victory, combined with the Giants’ blowout loss to Carolina, put the Packers (10-5) back in the postseason after going 6-10 last season and getting off to a 4-4 start this year.

It was Hasselbeck’s second straight four-interception game for the Seahawks (5-10), who have scored a total of 24 points in three straight losses.

Cowboys 17, Redskins 0

At Landover, Md., Dallas returned to the playoffs by dominating its 100th meeting with the Redskins and setting up an NFC East title showdown with the Eagles.