37-3. The Colts hadn’t topped 30 points since last December’s memorable comeback over the Detroit Lions, but today, they did it in style. Against what may be a historically bad team in the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis did exactly what they needed to do: dominate.
The Colts rolled up 437 yards of offense, getting big plays from Coby Fleener, Reggie Wayne, and, yes, Donald Brown, while the defense steamrolled Jacksonville (as well they should have). The Jags finished with just 205 yards. QB Blaine Gabbert went 17-32 for 165 yards and three interceptions with a QB rating of 30.6, while the Colts held Jaguar running backs to 2.2 yards per carry (18 for 40 yards).
Andrew Luck shook off a rough start for a brilliant outing, 260 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a pick with a much healthier average of 7.3 yards per pass (4.6 last week) and a 90 QB rating. A couple big plays from Andrew Luck and Donald Brown rescued an otherwise anemic rushing attack, taking the team from 24 carries for 63 yards and 2.6 ypc to 29/154/5.3.
It was utter domination. Anything less than a good game against such a troubled team would have been cause for concern – perhaps serious concern – and the Colts answered the bell today, taking it to Jacksonville, and keeping their foot on the gas for the blowout everyone expected.
It’s hard to believe from the final stat lines that Indy actually endured a rather shaky start to the game, trailing the (initially) feisty Jags 0-3 after the first quarter. Andrew Luck’s first quarter was plagued by incomplete passes and interceptions, one of which was called back by an offsides penalty on wildly undisciplined linebacker Jason Babin.
Indianapolis’s defense kept them in the game, however, making sure the Jaguars never gained any confidence or settled into any type of rhythm.
The game would turn in a pivotal – and very one sided – second quarter. Tied 3-3 after the Colts’ fourth straight drive stalled out, Indianapolis faced a crucial drive on defense. Had Jacksonville retaken the lead, even if only by a field goal, they could have gained some the confidence they needed to keep this game close.
Two plays after a holding penalty on Jerrell Freeman gave the Jaguars some life, Gabbert’s pass to Cecil Shorts III was well covered and deflected by Vontae Davis (who already had an interception down the sideline that resembled one of the great Marvin Harrison’s catches). Darius Butler, covering the outside receiver, turned toward the ball, reeled in the interception, and jetted 41 yards for the touchdown.
The Colts went up 10-3 and never looked back. Davis and Butler’s play sparked a stretch of five straight three and outs by the Colts defense. After the first one, Luck and the offense drove 80 yards in 6 plays thanks in large part to a 50 yard run by Donald Brown, capping it off with a one-yard plunge by Trent Richardson. 17-3 Colts. Those two successive series turned this game into a rout.
Jacksonville ball, and they followed up their run heavy three and out with three straight passes for another one. With 4:52 left in the half, the Colts had a 15 yard touchdown pass from Luck to Wayne nullified by a penalty on RG Jeff Linkenbach and eventually settled for a field goal to make it 20-3.
The Colts would put an exclamation point on the first half by forcing another three and out, featuring a sack by Robert Mathis, a great tackle for a loss by Antoine Bethea, and a twisting, hang-on-for-dear-life tackle by Darius Butler to force the punt.
In the first two games this season, opponents had been able to make adjustments to gain an edge against the Colts on both sides of the ball in the second half. This game continued the success from last week, however, as the defense kicked off the half with the fourth of those five three and outs, beginning once again with a Robert Mathis sack.
Indy got the ball back at their 37-yard line. Luck, who was slinging more deep balls than we’ve seen this season today, threw incomplete to Reggie Wayne, but was clobbered – helmet to helmet – by the now completely out of control Babin. Roughing the passer, 15-yards, 1st down. Luck’s next pass, another deep ball, rocketed into the waiting hands of a wide-open Coby Fleener, who chugged the rest of the 31 yards to the end zone, making it 27-3. Boos rained down from the stands. Fans left the game. The rout had been on for a while. Now, there was no turning back.
The Colts would force one more three and out – their fifth straight, an accomplishment against anyone, when (guess who?) Robert Mathis sacked Gabbert on third down – his third sack of the game to force yet another punt.
Indianapolis would overcome a holding penalty on rookie guard Hugh Thornton and the lone sack of Andrew Luck on their next drive to tack on one more touchdown, a 5-yard strike to Reggie Wayne, set up by a 23-yard pass to Wayne and a 15-yarder to Fleener. Reggie finished the game with 5 catches for 100 yards and a very non-old-guy-like 20 yards per catch.
Indy would notch a field goal on a drive orchestrated by backup QB Matt Hasselbeck that featured more fullback action than a 1940s college game (not literally), to make it 37-3. Jacksonville had three chances to score a garbage time, 'moral victory' touchdown in the fourth quarter, but the defense continued to answer them with an emphatic no.
Certainly, this was not a high quality opponent, but the Colts did what they should have done in this game. Anyone can play down to an opponent, as this team unfortunately demonstrated in a too-close-for-comfort win over Oakland, but what they did today was dominate in a game they needed to dominate.
Jacksonville’s drives ended with one field goal, three interceptions, six punts, and a turnover on downs. Excluding their final drive, on which they gained 66 yards against the Colts’ backups, the Jags’ offense had just 139 yards on the day. 139. Long time Colts fans will tell you that is an accomplishment against anyone (remember last year’s Chiefs?).
Let’s enjoy this one. Everybody loves being on the right side of a blowout. Next week: the Seahawks…….Yeah, let’s enjoy this one a little longer.
A few quick notes, in no particular order:
– Mathis now has 7.5 sacks on the season. Heck of a pace.
– Cory Redding notched a sack, two tackles for a loss, and two more QB hits. He also made life much easier for the linebackers with his unrelenting assault on whomever the Jaguars chose to block him.
– Reggie Wayne is almost 35. He can’t do this forever, but he did it again today, and he did it impressively.
– When bad passes fly, good defensive backs come up with the ball. Vontae Davis, Darius Butler, and Josh Gordy all managed to pick off Gabbert today. Well done.
– Butler has an impressive penchant for taking it to the house.
– Aside from their 4 sacks, the Colts hit Gabbert 9 times.
– McGlynn on his butt on a missed block was disconcerting.
– Pep Hamilton seems to believe very strongly in Stanley Havili.
– Trent Richardson should have eaten the Jags’ defense for supper. He needs to prove that he’s better than that career 3.5 ypc that’s hanging over him. He did manage a 12 yard run and a touchdown today. (Opinion alert) He has the ability to get 4.5 ypc.
– The offense finished well, but they will need to start better against Seattle. They were very out of sync early on. Luck struggled, DHB and T.Y. Hilton had a tough time. That won't end in a win against the Seahawks.
– Matt Hasselbeck is still good. No need to throw it to the end zone that late, but I’m glad to see they kept the hammer down.
– Maurice Jones-Drew: 13 carries, 24 yards, 1.8 ypc. Colt killer? Not today. Great job, D.
– Next week’s opponent, Seattle, beat the Texans in overtime after falling behind 20-3 in the first half. They’re now 4-0.
– At 3-1, Indy is off to their best start in quite some time. Every game could have been better, but it's a 37-3 win. We'll take it.