JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The old adage goes it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The opposite has been true for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. During Sunday’s 30-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville scored a touchdown on their first offensive possession. It was the seventh time in 12 games that the Jaguars came away with points on their opening drive.
“That was one of the emphasis coming into this game was to improve on what we did last week,” said Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis. “We started out slow and shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times in the game last week. We just wanted to come out better than we were and today we did that.”
They key play on the opening drive came on fourth down when punter Brad Nortman faked a punt and passed to a wide open James O'Shaughnessy for a gain of 29 yards. This was the third time this season that Jacksonville has converted on a fake punt.
“When the punt teams goes out there, it’s always a negative play that just happened beforehand so you’re always just trying to stop the bleeding, to an extent,” said Nortman. “To go out there and make an impactful play and get the offense rolling after that was really something special.”
After the fake punt, Jacksonville struck first when quarterback Blake Bortles stepped up in the pocket and found wide receiver Marqise Lee in the back of the end zone to put the Jaguars up 7-0. Getting off to slow starts was something that plagued the Jaguars under Gus Bradley.
“The last couple of years we dealt with issues where we would go out there and have situations where we would have two or three drives before we were able to move the ball,” said Lee. “Our main focus this year was just taking our time and moving the ball slowly so we could get a feel for the game.”
Early success also tends to lead to good overall games for Bortles. In the first quarter he threw for 90 yards after having only 154 yards against Cleveland and 160 against Arizona in the two previous games.
“Everyone says the identity of our team is go out and play good defense and run the football, control the clock, said Bortles, who finished with 309 yards and two touchdowns. “I think we’ve been put in a couple of situations where we’ve had to throw the ball, and I think we’ve delivered. We’ve done some good things. I think last week was kind of uncharacteristic of our passing game, so it felt good to be able to get back on track on really the whole thing, from up front to the guys running around to the guys in the back in protections and check downs. I thought it was a good day all around."