Sept. 23, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) carries the ball during first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-US PRESSWIRE
Week Three in the NFL featured something we haven’t seen in a while: The Colts FAVORED to win. Indianapolis hosted Jacksonville, and in the first half the Colts certainly looked like the superior team.
In the second half things played out dramatically different.
Andrew Luck tossed two touchdown passes, including a 40-yarder to fellow rookie T.Y. Hilton, in the first half. Indy led at halftime 14-3. However, despite Luck's excellence, Indy’s run defense had no answer for Maurice Jones-Drew the entire game. MJD came out after the half and scored on a 59-yard TD run, scampering virtually untouched through the center of the Colts defense.
After that play, it seemed that the Jaguars grabbed the momentum.
Later in the game, Luck was intercepted while driving into Jaguars territory by linebacker Paul Posluszny. The Jags tacked on a FG after that pick.
The Jaguars kicked another FG early in the fourth to take a 16-14 lead.
Colts weren’t able to generate much a ground game of their own, with Luck himself leading the Colts in rushing for much of the game. When your quarterback leads your team in rushing for three quarters, that's not good. Donald Brown ended up leading the Colts in rushing with 62 yards. Luck had 50 yards on four rushes.
Indy had a chance to re-take the lead with 4:42 left in the fourth, but Adam Vinatieri missed a chip-shot field goal from 37 yards out. After the Colts defense forced a Jaguars punt, Luck led the Colts down the field for the second week in a row, trailing under two minutes. This gave Vintatieri a chance to redeem himself, which he did. Vinatieri hit a 37-yarder, giving Indy a 17-16 lead.
However, on the first play after the Colts kickoff, a play occurred that will likely go down as one of the more infamous in Colts history. Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert, who had played awful throughout the game, hit Cecil Shorts III for an 80-yard TD pass, stunning the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd. The Jags tried to go for two, but MJD was stopped at the one yard line.
Despite being down 22-16 after the stunning Cecil Shorts touchdown, Andrew Luck managed to drive Indianapolis into Jaguars territory, hitting T.Y. Hilton for a 36-yard completion. On the Jaguars 26 yard line with 2 seconds left, Luck's pass into the endzone was knocked down incomplete.
Just like last week, the Colts and the defense imploded. However, this time around, Andrew Luck could not bail them out. For all the work Chuck Pagano and Greg Manusky put into fixing Indianapolis' run defense, so far the results are a failure. Jacksonville ran for 185 yards, averaging 5.8 yards a carry.
Obviously, Luck deserves a ton of credit for giving the Colts a chance, but the second half was a complete meltdown by the entire team, capped by Gabbert-to-Shorts. Tough loss to absorb. I don't have a lot of faith in Greg Manusky after a game like this, and Chuck Pagano doesn't escape criticism either. Two weeks in a row, two second half collapses. That's coaching. Don't make excuses. That. Is. Coaching.
Colts enter their bye 1-2. That's not as good as I'd like it, but I'll take it.