Colts Three-and Out: Week 17 vs. Jaguars
Curtain Call for a Legend
With the playoffs far out of sight for the Indianapolis Colts this season, Sunday's matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars marked the final career game for Robert Mathis. Mathis, who spent the entirety of his 13-year career with the Colts, racked up a total of 123.0 sacks during his time in the NFL, including a final strip-sack on Blake Bortles on Sunday. Mathis, along with fellow pash-rusher Dwight Freeney, were the face of the Colts defense during the Peyton Manning era, leading the way to a Super Bowl win against the Chicago Bears in 2006. When Manning was cut by the team after the 2011-'12 season, it became the responsibility of veteran players like Reggie Wayne and Mathis to guide a rebuilding team with a new quarterback and a cancer-stricken head coach through the ups and downs of an NFL season. While Wayne played a vital role in the development of players like Andrew Luck and TY Hilton, it was Mathis showing the defense how things are done in the league. During arguably his best season in 2012-'13, Mathis finished the season with 19.5 sacks and was a finalist in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year. For someone who was told they were too small to play in the NFL, Mathis sure did a whole lot for Indianapolis. While his departure from the game might not be the way he planned it, there is no doubt that Mathis will go down as one of the most successful and influential players in Colts history.
Rushing Through the Record Books
In Sunday's victory over Jacksonville, Frank Gore became the first running back since 1984 to rush for 1,000 yards in a season at the age of 33 or older, according to Matt Conti, assistant director of communications for the Colts. The 1,000-yard milestone was the ninth occurrence for Gore during his career, good enough for third in NFL history. Hitting the 1,000-yard mark was a clear goal for the veteran running back this season after failing during his first year in Indianapolis, so much so it seemed like he had no other option but to hit the magical number. Needing only 37 to meet the goal, Gore secured his place in NFL history on a perfectly-executed 10-yard run in the second quarter. With one year remaining on Gore's contract, expect him to be the team's No. 1 back next season if no one is drafted or signed in the offseason. Gore came to the Colts to compete for a Super Bowl, so there is still plenty of unfinished business for the future Hall-of-Famer in Indianapolis.
A True No.1
For a wide receiver who was labeled as too small and not physical enough to be a true No.1 wideout in the league, Hilton may have finally silenced the mass of critics not only on Sunday but throughout the season as well. With a 95-yard receiving performance against Jacksonville, Hilton finished the season with 1,448 total yards, making him the leading receiver this season. The critics were right, he's not a No.1 receiver, he's THE No.1 receiver. Hilton had made it well known that he wanted to be a leader on and off the field, and has met his word throughout the entirety of the regular season. While many will continue to attribute his success to the ability of the quarterback throwing him the ball, the one's who do keep a close eye on Hilton will continue to be in awe of what he can do between the white lines. Just ask the Houston Texans.
Jeff Tibbins covers the Indianapolis Colts for Pro Football Spot. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jeff_tibbins.
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