It was nice to see the Colts start the game by dialing up a WR screen to get the ball into T.Y. Hilton’s hands. Brissett made an awful decision to try to force it to him later in the drive on third and long. Forcing the ball to the sideline against this secondary is the opposite of what the team needs to do. Overall, there were some positive signs for the offensive game plan that was potentially blown to pieces by a risky throw.
After initially stopping the Jaguars on their first offensive possession of the game, Jacksonville faked their punt and picked up thirty yards for a first down. It is worth noting that Kenny Moorewas likely to get picked on if he received the bulk of the defensive snaps across from Pierre Desir. The Jaguars capitalized on the special teams play to score a touchdown a take an early lead 0-7.
It is still hard to believe that second round rookie Quincy Wilson is an inferior boundary defender than an undersized defensive back who played at lower level collegiate competition and who has shown that his best asset is as a gunner on punts.
After Frank Gore took three runs for a first down on the Colts second drive, Jacoby Brissettstarted making more bad decisions. Marlon Mack came into the game and it was clear within only two seconds that his receivers would not be open soon, as they were double-teamed. Mack leaked out to his left with no one in front of him and Brissett could have dumped the ball to him for a big play. It took him too long to diagnose that his receivers were not options so he took a sack. On the next play he tried to force a throw to Jack Doyle with much better options available. Finally, on the third play he held onto the ball for too long and tried to scramble around instead of throwing the ball away for another sack.
On the Jaguars second drive of the game, Bortles immediately goes after Kenny Moore. Marqise Lee makes an easy catch for a first down. Moore got away with a face mask as Lee went to the ground. On third and thirteen, the defense went into zone coverage and Bortles had enough time to wait for his receivers to get well into their routes. DeDe Westbrook broke into a gap in the zone behind Pierre Desir and in front of Darius Butler for an easy first down.
A couple of plays later Desir, who has played excellent football for the last four weeks, was lost to an injury. The team has to hope his injury is nothing serious. His loss was Quincy Wilson’s gain as he took his first defensive snaps since Week 2 when he went down.
In the best play of his rookie season, Tarrell Basham picked up a strip sack on Blake Bortles to push Jacksonville to a third and long. A short pass to Marcedes Lewis forced the Jaguars to take the field goal to push their lead to 0-10.
The third offensive drive of the game started with another heavy dose of Frank Gore. His first two carries of the drive resulted in a first down. On his third he may have fumbled the football, though it was difficult to see. The Colts recovered, if he did, but there was chippiness from both teams resulting in off-setting personal fouls and a second down and eight. A “trick play” running Chester Rogers across the formation for a jet sweep failed and backed the Colts back up for a third and 10.
A completion to Chester Rogers short in the field would have left Indianapolis well short of the first but the Jaguars bailed Brissett and Chudzinski out with a face mask penalty. Indianapolis quickly punished Jacksonville for the mistake by handing the ball to Marlon Mack for a 25-yard run. The Colts brought Gore back into the game after the long run and handed him the ball twice in a row for another 6 yards. A scramble for three yards by Brissett left the Colts facing a 4th and 1.
Pagano made the type of decision that makes it super clear that he doesn’t belong in the NFL as a head coach. With his team pushing the best defense in the league on its heels, punishing them on the ground and deep into the red zone he chooses to take the field goal. The Colts close the lead to 3-10 but this is a awful decision. The hard part about playing the Jaguars is getting to the red zone. You go for it on 4th and 1 before you throw away four points on a field goal try.
When Jacksonville took over the ball and couldn’t get anything going with a carry by Leonard Fournette they went back to the air and attacked Kenny Moore for a nine yard gain. This setup the Jaguars with a short field and they were able to pick up the first down with Fournette. Another pass to Marqise Lee not only picked up a first down but a horse collar tackle on Darius Butler resulted in an extra 15 yards.
On cue, after the Colts are successful on first and second down, T.J. Yeldon makes an easy catch out of the backfield for another first down. On third and goal Blake Bortles targets receiver Keelan Cole against Nate Hairston for his second touchdown of the day.
Both Jaguars touchdowns have been to receivers who were covered by Hairston. Jaguars extend their lead 3-16.
Brissett took the Colts last offensive possession of the first half and threw a ball off of the helmet of a defensive linemen then hit Donte Moncrief twice in a row for a first down. He then followed up an incomplete pass by hitting T.Y. Hilton for his second catch of the day. On third down, Brissett made a quick read and noticed that the middle of the field was entirely open. He scrambled up the middle for an easy first down and Indianapolis took their first time out.
Out of the timeout, Brissett went right back to Moncrief on the sideline. On second and short, Indianapolis rushed Marlon Mack to the outside for a first down and he got out of bounds to stop the clock. On the ensuing play, Brissett threw an interception right to the middle of the field. Brissett was targeting T.Y. Hilton on the play but under threw the pass.
Jacksonville runs the ball with Fournette and allows the clock to tick down to the second half leading 3-16.
Bortles started the second half by attacking the Colts zone defense on second down for a first and then abusing Kenny Moore on the sideline with Marqise Lee for another first down to get the Jaguars into the red zone. The next first down also came through the air on a pass to Fournette who was covered by Jon Bostic. Fournette took the next carry for an easy rushing touchdown pushing Jacksonville to 3-22.
A successful two-point conversion to Marcedes Lewis over Matthias Farley made up for the bad snap on the extra point in the first half. Jaguars up 3-24.
After getting things moving on offense again with Frank Gore and a pitch to Marlon Mack, things started to look like they were going to break down again. Pushed to 4th and 2 and desperate to cut into the lead, Brissett found T.Y. Hilton on a dig for a long touchdown. This cut into the lead 10-24.
Once again, the Colts defense does a nice job on the first two downs to stop Leonard Fournette from getting anything going. On 3rd and 13, Bortles connected with Marcedes Lewis who made to would-be tacklers miss for a first down. The Colts blew their first timeout of the half after this play. This is coming after Indianapolis sent 12 men out on the field to start the drive.
Coaching is amazing in Indianapolis.
A long scramble by Bortles is followed up by Keelan Cole along the sideline who beat Quincy Wilson, before Darius Butler could get over to make a stop. Another Jacksonville mistake on a snap that happened prematurely helped slow down their drive in the red zone and forced the Jaguars to settle for a field goal to add to their lead 10-27.
The fourth quarter looked like pretty much every fourth quarter this season for the Colts. It featured an Indianapolis turnover and a Colts defense who needed to be sure to stop the run but who started crashing on the edges and failed to contain. This has been a systematic failure by the defensive coordinator that has started making choices defensively that open up the team for long rushing play that keep the clock moving and allow the game to end quickly but not before another field goal for Jacksonville pushes the game to 10-30.
There is no fight in this team. There is no fight in this coaching staff. If there is any relief to be found in this game it is that the Colts were officially eliminated from the playoffs.