Finally! Best performance in years delivers Jaguars dominant win over Colts

Defense strong, offense fast-paced in 24-0 rout of Indy in home opener

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough) (Gary McCullough, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – That’s the type of performance they’ve been waiting on.

The defense was suffocating. The offense was quick, efficient and dominant.

The Jaguars finally put together a four-quarter performance and dominated the Colts 24-0 on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field. It gave Doug Pederson his first win as Jacksonville’s head coach and gave the home crowd something other than a moral victory to cheer about. Trevor Lawrence tossed a pair of touchdowns to Christian Kirk. James Robinson added rushing touchdown. And the defense ...

Wow.

The Jaguars dominated from start to finish, harassing another Colts quarterback and piecing together one fast-paced offensive drive after another. Matt Ryan threw an interception on Indy’s first drive of the game and the Jaguars took control after that in keeping their mastery of the Colts at home intact. The Jaguars were so good on defense that they denied Indy points on drives in the final quarter that made it down to the 4- and 8-yard lines.

“I just learned that this group is eager to win. They want to win and they put in the hard work during the week,” Pederson said. “That’s something I’ve been very proud of this group and really appreciate what they’ve done and how they’ve been able to take the mistakes from a week ago and sort of minimize them going into this week and really attacking the game plan and really just attacking their job.”

It was the eighth consecutive win over Indy in a home game (seven in Jacksonville, one in London) and pushed the Jaguars into the thick of the AFC South race. It was Jacksonville’s first shutout since a 6-0 win over the Colts on Dec. 2, 2018.

Yes, the Jaguars, who entered this game with a 4-29 record over last two years under three different coaches and an interim, have a .500 record for the first time since Week 2 of the 2020 season. It moved them into first place in the division in front of the Colts (0-1-1), with a chance at sole possession of first place by late Monday night. The Texans (0-0-1) face the Broncos later Sunday and the Titans (0-1) face the Bills on Monday night.

They played well enough to win against Washington last week but wilted in crunch time of a 28-22 loss. Pederson said after that game that the coaching staff addressed some of the issues that plagued them against the Commanders and felt good about the corrections.

Those paid off.

Jacksonville was far better in the penalty aspect. It protected Lawrence better. And the defense, strafed in crunch time last week, dominated the Colts and took away the feared ground game and back Jonathan Taylor. Indy didn’t surpass 100 yards of total offense in the game until the final play of the third quarter. Taylor had just 54 yards rushing on nine carries.

Josh Allen had a pair of sacks in the opening half. Arden Key, Adam Gotsis and Roy Robertson-Harris also sacked Ryan. The turnovers kept on coming, too.

The Jaguars forced nine takeaways last year but have now six in eight quarters under defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell. Rayshawn Jenkins’ interception of Ryan on Indy’s opening drive went on to set up Jacksonville’s best drive in what felt like years.

The Jaguars used 15 plays to chew up 9 minutes, 11 seconds, convert three times on third down and another on fourth. Lawrence capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Christian Kirk. Rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd grabbed his first career interception in the game, grabbing a pass batted by Foley Fatukasi in the fourth quarter for Jacksonville’s final takeaway. Andre Cisco added another pick in the quarter.

The shutout in the opening half was the first by Jacksonville since Sept. 30, 2021, a 24-21 loss to the Bengals. James Robinson ripped off a 37-yard touchdown run and Riley Patterson hit a career-long 52-yard field goal to put the Jaguars up 17-0 at halftime.

“We’ll take our medicine for the pathetic performance today, coaches and players. We’ll see how things stack up,” said Colts coach Frank Reich.

The big shift on offense came in how quickly it got the ball out of Lawrence’s hands.

Lawrence and the offense went fast-pace with underneath and short routes much of the game and it diced the Colts up. Unlike Week 1 when the offensive line struggled to give Lawrence ample protection on dropbacks, Jacksonville went with crisp and quick throws to keep Indy off-balance. That strategy worked. Lawrence went 8 for 8 on Jacksonville’s opening drive and would have likely had a perfect first half throwing the ball with the exception of a couple drops.

“I’m happy with the way I played. I think I left a couple plays out there, but honestly, for the most part, I think I maximized what was in front of me. Our guys did, as well. The O-line did a great job of protection. We did a nice job, I think Coach [Doug Pederson] and Press [Taylor], with the play calling, just mixing it up, keeping them on their heels,” Lawrence said. “Like I said, everything works together, but I’m happy with how I played. It was an efficient day. That was the plan, and that’s the most satisfying thing is when you have the plan and you know this is going to work if you can execute it for four quarters, and we did it and got out of here with a win, and it was awesome.”

Lawrence finished 25 of 30 for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kirk had 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns on six catches.

“Listen, you get paid to win games, right. You win, the fans show up. I’m a fan. I want to go watch a winner, so I’ll pay money to go see a winner,” Pederson said. “We have to just win games. This was a great start today. There’s a lot of football left, but the crowd was excellent today. Hats off to them. They showed up even after the rainstorm there in the first half, but credit to them, and hopefully we can keep the momentum.”


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.