With Jacksonville’s 30-10 rout of Indianapolis this week, the Jaguars are 8-4 for the first time since 2007, guaranteeing the team a non-losing record for the first time since 2010. However, the Jaguars’ sights are set on much bigger outcomes than just a winning season.
“That’s great that we got eight wins, but that’s not good enough for us,” said veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny, who finished the game with 10 tackles, including two for a loss, and one-and-a-half sacks in the place of starter Telvin Smith. “We want to continue to play at a high level and win, get to the playoffs. We haven’t reached our goals yet.”
Wide receiver Keelan Cole, who reeled in three receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown, spelled out those goals and expectations for the team.
“Playoffs and beyond,” he said. “You’re not going to think ahead, but we know what we want to do. We for sure want to win a Super Bowl. We feel like we have the tools to win the Super Bowl; we just have to make sure we put it together, and this month is when it matters, so we started out good in December.”
The undrafted rookie wideout is definitely right there: the Jaguars started out well this month. They started out very well.
They bounced back after losing to the Arizona Cardinals in a 27-24 heartbreaker the previous week and steamrolled the Colts for the second time this season, thanks in large part to the efforts of quarterback Blake Bortles. The four-year signal caller finished 26 of 35 for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think last week was kind of uncharacteristic of our passing game,” said Bortles, “so it felt good to be able to get back on track on really the whole thing, from up front to the guys running around to the guys in the back in protection and check downs. I thought it was a good day all around.”
The Jaguars’ first strike against the Colts came midway through the opening quarter. A 29-yard fake punt pass on fourth down from Brad Nortman to James O’Shaughnessy brought the Jaguars inside the Colts’ red zone, where Bortles ultimately connected with Marqise Lee for a 4-yard touchdown. Lee finished the contest with seven catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
The Jaguars added a Josh Lambo 30-yard field goal in the opening minutes of the second quarter, which was answered by an Adam Vinatieri 27-yard field goal to make the score 10-3 in favor of Jacksonville. On the ensuing possession, Bortles orchestrated a 12 play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a beautiful 8-yard fade from the quarterback to Cole in the corner of the end zone. The Jaguars went into the half leading 16-3.
Jacksonville continued to pour it on in the second half. On the team’s first drive in the third quarter, Bortles led the Jaguars to another score, this time by running back Leonard Fournette on a 5-yard carry. The rookie celebrated the score by gathering his teammates in position for a “free throw,” in which he shot the football through the field goal posts.
“We haven’t been in the end zone a lot,” said Fournette regarding why the team decided to plan the celebration for the Colts game. “We’re going to put it up and get it together. It’s a different Jaguars team from previous years. We have great leaders in our coaches and younger dudes, like myself, who need to take control of the team.”
After a successful two-point conversion, the Jaguars led 24-3.
The Colts would respond with a touchdown of their own: quarterback Jacoby Brissett connected with receiver T.Y. Hilton for a 40-yard score to bring the game to 24-10. Yet that would be the sole touchdown for the Colts. Brissett finished 21 of 36 for 174 yards, threw two interceptions and was sacked four times. One of those sacks came from Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, who broke Jacksonville’s single season sack record of 12 set by Tony Brackens in 1999. Campbell now has 12.5.
Josh Lambo added two more field goals for Jacksonville, bringing the final score to 30-10, a game in which Indianapolis was never really close. The lone bright spot for the Colts was Frank Gore, who rushed for 61 yards on 13 attempts, ultimately passing Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson on the NFL’s all-time leading rushing list. Gore is now No. 5 on that list, behind Curtis Martin, Barry Sanders, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
As coach Doug Marrone reflects back on the past four weeks and looks ahead to the remaining games on the schedule, he said the Jaguars must have better focus on the little things.
“I always think that the teams that just go out there and play, you play hard, you play your assignment, you win your battles, you do well,” he said. “If a lot of other things are going on and you miss anything or bust anything, then obviously you can put yourself in a tough situation. Don’t feel any pressure, go out there and play and have some fun.”
Marqise Lee echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“Yeah, we got a great win today, but at the end of the day, when we go back to the film, we’re going to see a lot of mistakes, and that’s the thing we’ve got to correct moving forward to the next one,” he said.
The Jaguars will next play host to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Dec. 10 at 4:25 p.m.