After being picked apart by Tom Brady last week, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley lamented his whole defensive philosophy against the Patriots. Different week, different team and different starter at quarterback but against the Colts, Bradley’s defense looked eerily similar to last week to open the game at Indianapolis.
Rushing four and playing zone behind it, the Jaguars didn’t have any answer for the 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck as the Colts took an early 3-0 lead.
On offense, quarterback Blake Bortles looked sharp, hitting Allen Hurns 8 times in the first half and a deep ball to Allen Robinson to give the Jaguars a 10-3 lead. Nice blend of play-action, T.J. Yeldon running the ball and Bortles finding the open guy, they looked like that team we saw in the preseason and on occasion against Miami two weeks ago.
Then it was about the most inexplicable defensive series of the year. A combination of five penalties, equally shared by rookies and veterans gave the Colts a short yardage TD chance that they took advantage of to tie the game at ten. It was a weird series because the Jaguars defense had a couple of chances to end the drive but keep giving the Colts extra chances and it finally lead to points.
A Jason Myers field goal gave the Jaguars the lead at halftime but FG’s instead of TD’s felt a little empty despite a halftime lead.
As the game progressed, the Jaguars defense started to pressure Hasselbeck with some success. The third quarter was a lot of back and forth with a bunch of punts. The Colts did win the field position battle and took advantage of Paul Posluszny’s ankle injury that forced him out of the game driving deep into Jaguars territory. They got a field goal out of it to tie the game at 13.
In 2014 the Jaguars were the least penalized team in the league but against the Colts, penalties were a real problem. The “illegal formation” is a point of emphasis for the officials this year and it bit the Jaguars early in the 4th quarter. A 3rd and 3 was converted by a great catch by Bryan Walters. The play was negated by an illegal formation call against the Jaguars (the Colts had a couple called against them in the first half.)
Just as Indy was driving late in the 4th quarter to take the lead, Frank Gore fumbled at the goal line and Abry Jones grabbed it in the end zone for a huge break for the Jaguars. Josh Evans stripped the ball at about the 3 and on the next drive made a good stop at the line of scrimmage to force a punt. Evans was in the game because Sergio Brown was injured and couldn’t start, James Sample got hurt during the game, as did Aaron Colvin.
Bortles and the offense had a couple of chances as the 4th quarter progressed, one really good one around the two minute warning but a low snap that Blake couldn’t handle drove them out of field goal range and forced a punt. The defense forced a punt again, and Bortles run on 3rd down put them just inside FG position for Jason Myers. The rookie kicker had two chances after the Colts called timeout right before his first attempt but both were wide right from 53 yards out and the game went into OT. Thought he’d make it the second time but just wide right.
In overtime, T.J. Yeldon dashed 36 yards to past midfield but they couldn’t get past there and had to punt. Good defense gave the ball back to Bortles and company. Another run by Bortles gave Myers another chance from 48 yards but he missed again, this time left to give the ball back to the Colts.
This time, they didn’t dawdle as the Colts drove the ball down field with a mismatch on Jonathan Cyprien with Coby Fleener and a strong run by Frank Gore. Adam Viniateri kicked the FG to give Indy a 16-13 win.
You can blame Myers if you want and call for the Jaguars to re-sign Josh Scobee (the Steelers cut him on Saturday) but you can’t rely on kickers to win games for you from around 50 yards out. Several times during the game, and again in overtime, the Jaguars stalled around midfield. Earlier they settled for FG’s instead of scoring TD’s and it cost them.
Not sure you can chalk this one up to learning or youth or anything besides a lack of execution in critical situations. Injuries hurt and maybe it’ll be a little better when Julius Thomas and the rest of the guys hurt get into the lineup. But on this Sunday, the Colts got it done, with a backup quarterback, and the Jaguars, with backups of their own in the game, didn’t.