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Out of reach: Jaguars can’t complete comeback in loss to Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) attempts a catch in front of Indianapolis Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (26) in the second half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. The pass was incomplete(AP Photo/AJ Mast) (AJ Mast, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A chance at an unlikely victory slipped away for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars made it close at the finish but couldn’t overcome a big early deficit in a 23-17 loss to the Colts on Sunday.

Jacksonville was trying to string together back-to-back victories for the first time since the 2019 season. Instead, the Colts jumped out to a 17-0 lead just 13 minutes into the game and held on for dear life after that to send the Jaguars to another divisional loss.

Jacksonville’s defense gave it a shot, holding Indianapolis to a field goal with 2 minutes, 22 seconds to play and giving Trevor Lawrence and Co. one final drive to author a stunning comeback, but Lawrence lost a fumble with 50 seconds to play to seal the loss.

It was an erratic game for the Jaguars.

Fans blinked and the team was down by three possessions early, falling in 17-0 hole in the opening quarter. Jacksonville picked things up in the second half and even cut the Colts’ lead to a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but it couldn’t get over that final hump.

Jacksonville (2-7) has shown flashes, but it just can’t put consistent games together on the offensive side of the ball. There will no doubt be more questions for Urban Meyer about Jacksonville’s struggles on offense.

It hasn’t cracked 30 points in a game since Week 2 of the 2020 season, a span of 23 straight games, and took forever to get moving on Sunday. But it eventually did to make things interesting.

James Robinson dove over the pile — with some lead block help by defensive lineman Malcom Brown playing as the fullback — to give Jacksonville a pulse with 11:50 to play. Lawrence hit Dan Arnold for a two-point conversion to get Jacksonville within 20-17.

But the Jaguars went three and out on their ensuing drive, Indianapolis scratched out a field goal and Lawrence lost a fumble on the final drive to wrap it up.

Jacksonville’s defense continues to make big strides. After the Colts (5-5) diced them up in the opening quarter with a relentless stream of Jonathan Taylor runs, the Jaguars turned up the pressure and allowed just two field goals the rest of the way.

But that solid defensive performance was wasted by a bad day on special teams and another uneven showing by Lawrence and the offense.

It wasn’t all on Lawrence though.

Logan Cooke had the first punt of his career blocked and returned for a touchdown. Matthew Wright missed a 51-yard field goal and a point after attempt.

But the attention will no doubt be on how Jacksonville’s offensive unit can make positive strides. Lawrence had the worst start of his NFL career against the Colts and didn’t get much help from anyone on that side of the ball.

Jamal Agnew had a 66-yard touchdown run to get Jacksonville on the board, but the offense was too up and down throughout the day. Lawrence finished 16 of 35 for 162 yards passing. Robinson had 57 yards rushing and a touchdown on 12 carries. Arnold continues to be Jacksonville’s only reliable receiving threat as Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault and Agnew remain inconsistent.

A week after scratching out three field goals in a 9-6 win over the Bills, the Jaguars turned in another clunker on that side of the ball.

Lawrence was below average the bulk of the game. He was plagued by drops again and had a miserable opening half. Lawrence had just three completions at the break.

Taylor finished with 116 rushing yards for the Colts, although 107 of those came in the first half.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.