INDIANAPOLIS – Going in to the game against the Colts the Jaguars, coming off their bye week, had some goals they were trying to achieve in the last six weeks of the season. One big one was to stop turning the ball over, particularly on the plus side of the 50 when it looked like they were going to get some points.
As a defense, the Jaguars were shredded by Andrew Luck the last time they met but in the first two series, they shut him down, sacked him twice (by Chris Clemons) and forced a fumble. Sounds good right?
Problem was, Blake Bortles first pass was a bad read and a worse throw, trying to hit Marcedes Lewis on an out pattern. Vontae Davis saw it coming the whole time, jumped the route and picked it off, returning it 46 yards deep into Jaguars territory. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 46 yarder to give Indy a 3-0 lead. By the way, Vinatieri will be 42 years old this December and hasn't missed this year.
It was pretty clear that the Jaguars defensive line was pumped up in this game. Chris Smith created a fumble with their third sack of the game. Sen'Derrick Marks recovered the fumble and put the Jaguars in business inside the Colts 20. But the offense couldn't do much, settling for a tipped Josh Scobee field goal to tie the game 3-3.
Another good defensive stand was wasted when Denard Robinson fumbled the ball in the middle of a pile near midfield, giving the Colts the ball back. For a team that was focusing on not turning the ball over, the Jaguars had two in the first quarter.
But neither team had much rhythm. The Jaguars had a sustained drive stall at midfield but the Colts gave up 5 sacks in the first half. Between the two teams there were 5 turnovers and 5 fumbles in the first 26 minutes of play.
The first half was a very solid effort by the Jaguars defense. They harassed Luck, sacked him, forced fumbles and really gave up only one big explosive play toward the end of the half. They held the Colts to just two field goals, six points in the first 30 minutes of the game. The last time these two teams met, the Colts scored 30 in the first half.
When the Jaguars won the toss at the beginning of the game, they deferred, hoping to make something happen in the second half. But in their first series the Jaguars went backwards, Bortles dropping the ball and Jordan Todman dropping a pass. There's been spotty execution by the offense all season long, but outside of the one drive in the first half, they did nothing to scare the Colts.
Meanwhile you know the Colts are going to score some points. Since the Jaguars offense couldn't come up with anything, the Colts had a very short field and scored on a 1 yard Trent Richardson run to make it 13-6. Without any offense on the next drive, the Colts had it deep in their own territory. But not for long. Luck hit T.Y. Hilton on a 73-yard go route for a TD that gave Indy a 20-6 lead. It looked a lot like the play Dez Bryant scored on in London against Dewayne Gratz but perhaps he was looking for safety help from Jonathan Cyprien. Either way, Hilton was wide open (Gus "Blown Coverage") and the game started to get out of hand. It really would have gone south after the ensuing punt by the Jaguars (after another three and out) was returned for a TD but it was called back for an illegal block.
It's mystifying why the Jaguars couldn't get anything done on offense. Indianapolis couldn't stop anybody in the last three weeks and the Jaguars are a legitimate running football team. But Bortles looked a bit gun-shy all day, looking for that blend between being aggressive and not trying to turn the ball over. He had a lot of swing passes in the game plan, nice and safe, and he took advantage of those. But eventually the Colts caught on and shut most of those down. Marqis Lee was getting his chance with Allen Robinson out of the lineup and he had a few catches. One of 37 yards in the 4th quarter got the ball to the one. It might be the first time Lee had ever been caught from behind. And for some reason, Jeff Fisch tried everything but running Toby Gerhart at the line and they turned the ball over on downs. I hated every call in that sequence.
While the Jaguars are not a good football team, occasionally they play well enough to make it interesting. But on this day, they're a bad football team playing poorly. Gus Bradley will need to reassess what he's telling the players and what his expectations are and he'll have to do the same with the fans and probably Shad Khan.
If at this point it's about the players taking ownership, they can have this one.