JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio tossed aside his black jacket before last night's game even began.
It wasn't long before Indianapolis undressed the rest of his team.
Yep, all that talk about the defending Super Bowl champions being better this season just might be true.
The Colts dominated every aspect of their showdown against Jacksonville, easily winning, 29-7, and once again taking charge in the AFC South. They also moved a step closer to setting up an undefeated matchup against the Patriots (7-0). The teams meet Nov. 4.
The Patriots should provide more of a challenge than the Jaguars did.
Joseph Addai and Kenton Keith combined for 141 yards rushing, Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne picked apart Jacksonville's secondary, and the Colts (6-0) avenged their most embarrassing loss of last season.
"This was a pivotal game for us," Manning said. "We put a lot of emphasis on this game."
It showed, too.
Indianapolis improved to 3-0 in the division and left Jacksonville (4-2), Tennessee, and Houston in the all-too-familiar chase mode.
"We're in the front seat, we're driving, and everybody has to play catch-up to us," Colts defensive end Ed Johnson said.
The Colts, who have won the past four division titles, joined Green Bay (1929-31) and St. Louis (1999-2001) as the only teams to start 6-0 for three straight years.
They made this one look easy, backing up assertions by Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy and Del Rio that the Colts are stronger, faster, more disciplined, and simply better than they were during last year's championship run.
But not all the Jaguars were ready to give Indy too much credit.
"They executed the best and made the least amount of mistakes, but I don't think they're better than they were last year," running back Fred Taylor said. "We kind of stubbed our own toe a little bit."
The Colts knocked quarterback David Garrard out of the game - and out of the lineup for at least a couple of weeks - bottled up Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew and extended their winning streak to 11 games.
Taylor and Jones-Drew spearheaded last year's 44-17 rout in Jacksonville. The Jaguars ran for a franchise-record 375 yards - a defensive meltdown that proved to be a turning point for Indy. The team fixed its run defense down the stretch and then won it all.
Jacksonville tried to catch the Colts off guard from the start last night, calling on Garrard to throw early and often. It backfired. Jacksonville's lackluster receivers dropped several balls, and then Garrard was knocked out of the game in the second quarter because of an injury to his left ankle.
Meanwhile, Manning was Manning.
He had plenty of time to throw, and with Marvin Harrison still nursing a sore knee, hooked up with Wayne all over the field. Manning finished 23 of 37 for 259 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Wayne caught nine passes for 131 yards.