Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? With their 30-3, ahem, 30-10 victory over the Jaguars, the Colts have swept the AFC South on their way to a second consecutive 11-5 record.
Indianapolis never allowed the visiting Jaguars to make a game of it. They harassed Jacksonville QB Chad Henne all day, with 7 batted down passes, 8 QB hits, 3 sacks (two by Robert Mathis who finished with 19.5 on the season) and an interception.
They also bottled up the Jaguars’ anemic running game, holding them to 16 carries for 42 yards, 2.6 ypc. Many times in the past, this Colts defense has allowed a team to revive their ground game against them, not today.
Oh, and the offense. Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and a touchdown on 26/37 passing and finished with a 101.4 QB rating. It was Luck’s second straight week of hitting on 70% of his passes, and he now owns the NFL record for most yards by a QB in his first two seasons (which he broke with his first completion of the game).
Indy’s defense started the game on a roll, having held the free falling Texans and the playoff bound Chiefs to 3 and 7 points respectively. They wasted no time asserting themselves today, with Jerrell Freeman’s forced fumble on Jacksonville’s third offensive play (recovered by Darius Butler).
Following the turnover, the offense took over at the Jaguars 42 and unleashed the no huddle, and Andrew Luck, on the apparently unsuspecting Jags. Luck completed three short passes to T.Y. Hilton to help set up Donald Brown for a dive-over-the-pile touchdown.
Down 7-0, Jacksonville needed to show they could compete. They did not. After some good pass defense by Freeman, Robert Mathis raced into the backfield and sacked Henne – and apparently, the Jaguars’ will and spirit – for an 8-yard loss.
Enter the no huddle, again. Looking like the offense people hoped to see early in the year, Indianapolis kept the defense on their heels, and their foot on the gas. Luck, who had thrown incomplete on two deep seam routes, hit Coby Fleener on one for 25 yards. It was a spectacular play by Fleener, who adjusted to either the pass or his route to snag the ball just before it could hit a defender in the face. A few plays later, Trent Richardson capped it off with a two-yard touchdown run.
Mathis, Freeman, and Fili Moala showed off their run-stopping skills to force a second straight three and out, and the Colts, running the no huddle again, drove 74 yards in 12 plays, highlighted by Hilton’s 37-yard catch. Vinatieri capped things off with a 23-yard field goal and a 17-0 lead. The rout was on – or possibly had been for quite some time. And it was just the first quarter.
The Jaguars managed to get a field goal early in the second after Butler broke up a pass on 3rd and 19. Indy answered in the no huddle, but eventually slowed things down a bit. That’s right, clock killer mode initiated – in the second quarter.
Indy’s defense continued to play well against the stumbling Jaguars, and after being unable to reel in a handful of bad passes by Henne, Antoine Bethea finally got under one and returned it 46 yards to the Jacksonville 39-yard line.
Indianapolis, taking over with 53 seconds left in the half, tacked on another chip shot field goal to take a 20-3 halftime lead.
The Colts opened the third quarter with a 7-play, 80 yard drive. Luck hit Hilton on a short pass over the middle that turned into a 41-yard gain (that little man is astoundingly fast) to help set up a 7-yard TD catch for Griff Whalen. Whalen broke to the outside on what appeared to be a quick out, did a 180, came back over the middle, and caught the pass in stride. 27-3 Colts.
Freeman, who finished with 8 tackles, 2 pass breakups, a sack, and 2 QB hits (stat sheet stuffer), sacked Henne on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the Jaguars converted on 4th and 1 a couple plays later. Then Robert Mathis reminded Jacksonville that there would be no comeback, spinning to the inside to bring Henne down again for a 9-yard loss, setting up an eventual punt, and sack number 19.5 on the season for the potential Defensive Player of the Year.
Indianapolis capitalized once more, this time with backup Matt Hasselback at the helm and several other backups on the field, for Vinatieri’s third field goal making it 30-3 before the Jaguars’ eventual garbage time touchdown made the final score 30-10.
Heading into the playoffs, the Colts are 5-5 against non-division teams but 6-0 in the AFC South. They’ve beaten some very good teams, but they also have fifteen players on Injured Reserve. That being said, it doesn’t matter whom the opponents are, when you finish on a three game win streak by a combined score of 78-20, you have to feel good about your chances. Going into the playoffs, especially with a home game in the first round, anything can happen.
A few quick notes in no particular order:
- Da’Rick Rogers didn’t see a target until Hasselbeck came into the game, but defenders couldn’t sag off of him, leaving more opportunities for Fleener, Whalen, and, of course, Hilton.
- T.Y. Hilton led all receivers with 11 catches on 15 targets for 155 yards, giving him 82 catches for 1083 yards and 5 TD’s in his second season.
- Robert Mathis finished the game with 6 tackles and 2 sacks. He could be in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year.
- The Colts were 8 of 16 on third down, and the Jaguars were 3 of 14 (but 3/5 on fourth down).
- That running game, well, it wasn’t great, but the passing was very good, and they kept Luck upright for the most part.
- This team is unpredictable, but if I were a fan of any other franchise, I wouldn't want to face these guys in the playoffs.
- Several players, including Vontae Davis, Aubrayo Franklin, and Bjoern Werner were banged up during this game. As usual, the injury and depth situations for this team are shaky heading into the postseason. Then again, as usual, this team is headed to the postseason.