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Jaguars find momentum, rout Colts

McCardell on if Rasahd Greene has some work to do in order to make the team: “I told him this: ‘You all start at the same starting line and you have to go out and show everybody that you can help this team.’ Each year is a new year. This was a fresh start for him. He gets out in front of everybody and makes plays when we are asking him to make plays. He is doing it, and I think the little experience he had playing early really helps him right now. I think he has become a leader just because he has been here for a while.” (Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Scoring on offense, defense and special teams for the first time since 2011, the Jaguars routed the Indianapolis Colts 51-16 at home for their fifth win of the year on Sunday.  The 51 points is a regular season team record behind the 62 scored in the playoffs against Miami in 2000.

For 28 minutes, the second meeting between the Jaguars and Colts provided almost no excitement, bad offense, field goals and no touchdowns.  For the last two minutes in the first half, there still wasn’t much offense but both defenses scored TD’s to make it at least interesting. 

After a big week against the Titans, the Jaguars offense struggled against Indy early after their opening drive.  Taking the kickoff, the offense got a couple of breaks and ran TJ Yeldon enough to allow Jason Myers to kick a 46-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Indy did virtually the same, twice, and led 6-3 going into the second quarter.  Matt Hasselbeck wasn’t sharp against a depleted Jaguars defense playing without Paul Posluszny and unlike the previous week, Indy was held to field goals in the red zone instead of touchdowns.

As they started near their own goal line with two minutes to play in the half, quarterback Blake Bortles couldn’t handle the snap from Stefen Wisnewski for the second straight week and again it resulted in a defensive TD.  Robert Mathis fell on it in the end zone for an easy touchdown and a 13-3 lead.

Going to their hurry up offense, the Jaguars were marching right down the field when a delayed safety blitz dropped Bortles in the backfield for a sack.  Instead of just eating it and moving on, Bortles tried to wriggle free, with the ball popping out and picked up by the Colts.  Luckily, Yeldon saw it happening and tackled the defender in Jaguars territory.

Looking for more pressure on the quarterback, the Jaguars tried some different schemes and different personnel against Indy.  Chris Smith provided some speed off the edge and they were hoping Nick Marshall might be a good slot, man coverage guy.  Smith did get some pressure on Hasselbeck but Marshall was picked on all half.  Nonetheless, it appeared to light a fire under Andre Branch who sacked Hasselbeck on the next series, forced a fumble, scooped it up and ran for a 49 yard TD.

It was the play that saved the game and perhaps changed the conversation and the entire season.  If Indy scores there, who knows what happens but instead the Jaguars were back in it.

Almost on cue, Jason Myers missed the extra point (and was treated to a loud chorus of boos from the fans in attendance) making it 13-9 at halftime. 

No offensive touchdowns, three field goals and honestly, a few laughs.

Keeping Myers is a decision Gus Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell will have to own since his misses last week changed how the game was played, but they refused to make a change.  I know you “found” him and he’s your guy but you can’t play the game around your kicker.

As the second half started the strange nature of the game continued.  It was clear whatever was said in the locker room made the Jaguars defense angry and they played like it.  Fast and mean, they forced a Colts three and out and got the ball on their own 20.

On first down, Bortles rolled to his right and hit Allen Hurns near the sideline.  As the ball left his hand, it appeared Bortles had thrown an interception but the defender missed and Hurns caught it, ducked under a tackle and ran 80-yards for a TD.  It was the longest TD of the year for the Jaguars and the longest career catch and throw by Bortles and Hurns.  16-13 Jaguars after the PAT.  And by the way, the crowd went wild when Myers made it.

Still mad, the defense forced another 3 and out and this time Rashad Greene fielded it at the 20 (after taking a peek at the coverage) beat one man after the catch and streaked 80-yards for a touchdown.  A hold could have been called at the end of the play but wasn’t and again, Myers made the PAT (driving the crowd into a frenzy).  Jaguars with a 23-13 lead.

Hasselbeck was knocked out of the game by a big hit from Roy Miller putting Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback.  Another Vinatieri FG made it 23-16 midway through the third quarter.

Building a little momentum, the Jaguars offense moved the ball, blending the pass and run, a big play on pass interference covering Marqise Lee leading to a touchdown.  Allen Robinson made a good move in the end zone and Bortles found him for the first time in the game.  The crowd was delirious when Myers made the extra point to give the Jaguars a 30-16 lead.

Getting the ball back after a punt, the Jags continued their solid play into the 4th quarter with Denard Robinson running hard for the injured Yeldon who left the game with a knee problem.  Bortles hit Julius Thomas for his third TD pass of the game and a 37-16 lead.  And yes, the crowd went crazy again when Myers hit the PAT.

While division games are important, beating the Colts is especially pleasing to the Jaguars.  Indy has owned the division for so long Gus Bradley has never been on the winning side in this match up.  So it’s no surprise that it can get a bit chippy between the two teams.  Telvin Smith hit Hasselbeck while he was going out of bounds, forcing him out of the game, again and continuing to swing the momentum the Jaguars way.  DRob scored from a yard out after a nice 3rd down conversion to Greene over the middle to make it 44-16. Jonathan Cyprien grabbed an interception off Charlie Whitehurst and took it to the one. Bortles took a big, unnecessary hit on a third down bootleg after two attempts up the middle but scored on a QB sneak to make it 51-16.

So what are we seeing here?  The end of the Colts 16 game division-winning streak for sure.  But are the Jaguars combining all of the things they’ve learned through the first 12 games of the year and building some momentum?  There will be talk about contending for the division title if a couple of things fall their way, but more than anything they need to keep looking in the mirror and figuring out what they’re doing right and try to build on it.  Finding some consistency, something they can count on every week is what this team needs to finish the year.