Colts, Jags face coaching decisions following season finale
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Chuck Pagano walked out of his postgame news conference after taking only two questions, the latter about his precarious job situation.
Doug Marrone hung around a little longer but didn't offer much more information.
Shortly after Pagano's Colts rallied to beat Marrone's Jaguars 24-20 on a 1-yard TD pass with 9 seconds left, the two embattled coaches and their players were talking about their future employment.
''We all had something on the line here,'' Colts safety Mike Adams said. ''We are all capable whether it was a contract, a job and when you go to the next team. It wasn't just about Coach Pagano, it was about us. It was about everybody.''
With the win, Indianapolis (8-8) avoided its first losing season since Pagano took the job in 2012.
Usually, teams are willing to stick with coaches who have records of 49-31, three playoff appearances, two division titles and one AFC championship appearance. But after missing the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1997-98, fans have soured on Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.
Fans have largely split over who is more culpable for the Colts' plight and some want both gone.
The answers could come Monday.
''I don't think it's stuck in neutral. I think it's moving forward,'' Andrew Luck said when asked to assess where the Colts are headed. ''Obviously, it's about having a better record and getting into the playoffs.''
The Jags (3-13) already have made a couple of moves. Two weeks ago, they fired coach Gus Bradley and installed Marrone as interim coach.
Marrone won his debut, ending a franchise-record, nine-game losing streak, and watched the Jags take a 17-0 lead in the first half and a 20-17 lead with 1:33 to go Sunday - only to watch Luck move the Colts 75 yards in 84 seconds for the winning score.
Will a solid finish be impressive enough for the Jags to keep Marrone in charge? Marrone wouldn't say whether he had an interview scheduled with general manager Dave Caldwell.
''I think he did a really good job relating to the guys,'' Jags quarterback Blake Bortles said. ''The guys played their tails off for him these past two weeks.''
Here are some other things we learned Sunday:
STILL RUNNIN': Frank Gore is still going strong at age 33. He ran 16 times for 62 yards Sunday, giving him 1,026 this season. He is the oldest player to run for 1,000 yards since 35-year-old John Riggins did it in 1984 and is the fourth player age 33 or older to achieve the milestone. Gore also is the first Colts player to do it since Joseph Addai in 2007. He, Emmitt Smith, Curtis Martin, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders are the only players with nine 1,000-yard seasons. And with another year on his contract, the Colts want him back. ''Frank is another guy, just like Robert (Mathis), that is as tough as they come, as passionate as they come and that guy loves, loves football and he loves to play this game,'' Pagano said.
ADDING TO THE STABLE: Jacksonville played without its top two running backs, T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory, because of injuries. In their absence, the Jags turned to second-year player Corey Grant, and he did not disappoint. Grant had 18 carries for 122 yards and scored on a 57-yard run. ''They did a really good job up front and I thought Corey, for getting his first opportunity, ran really hard and did a nice job,'' Bortles said.
MAGIC CARPET RIDE: Two days after announcing his retirement, Colts linebacker Robert Mathis got his last win and the last strip-sack of his career. His 41 strip-sacks is an NFL record. Afterward, Mathis celebrated with his family and gave his wife the football he recovered on that final sack, which gave him 123 career sacks. ''I remember the first ball I gave was to my mom,'' Mathis said. ''She's watching. She's no longer here, so I gave it to my wife.''
FRUSTRATING FINISH: Jacksonville was on the verge of blowing out the Colts when it took a 17-0 lead in the first half. And after blocking a punt and taking over at the Colts' 30-yard line with 1:54 to go, it looked as if the Jags would win their second straight under Marrone. Instead, they couldn't get the game-clinching first down, settled for a 41-yard tiebreaking field goal and watched the defense squander away the lead.
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