Missed opportunities. That’s what plagued the Indianapolis Colts all afternoon in National Football League play Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indianapolis went into the locker room at halftime with a 14-3 lead over AFC rival Jacksonville. The Colts had a 14-13 advantage after three quarters. But in the end, it was the plays that the Colts didn’t make en route to a 22-17 home field loss to the Jaguars.
Usually dependable placekicker Adam Vinatieri was wide left on a 36-yard field goal attempt with 4:45 remaining in the game and Indianapolis trailing 16-14. After an exchange of offensive possessions, he wound up squeezing a 37-yarder inside the left upright to put Indianapolis on top 17-16 with 1:01 left.
Still not good enough. On Jacksonville’s very first play on its next possession, quarterback Blaine Gabbert found second-year wide receiver Cecil Shorts on a crossing pattern over the middle and the former Mount Union track standout sprinted 80 yards for the eventual winning touchdown.
The Colts had one final drive to try and pull out the win. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck directed the offense on a six-play drive that started on the Indianapolis 38-yard line and wound up at the Jaguars’ 26 six plays later.
Two final desperation passes, both intended for veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne, fell incomplete as time expired.
As Colts coach Chuck Pagano said afterward, the loss — in a game the Colts had been favored in — was a gut-wrencher.
Indianapolis committed 11 penalties, nine in the second half, for 106 yards and turned the football over once when Luck was intercepted by Jacksonville middle linebacker Paul Posluszny. The Jaguars were penalized six times for 67 yards and did not commit any turnovers.
Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew and placekicker Josh Scobee, both long-time thorns in the sides of the Colts, came up big once again.
Jones-Drew ran for 177 yards in 28 carries, including a 59-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter that brought the Jaguars to within 14-10. Scobee, who has had three game-winning kicks against Indianapolis during his career, connected on field goal attempts from 44, 47 and 26 yards. His last kick had given the Jaguars a 16-14 lead with 11:02 left in the game.
“Obviously a devastating loss. Big plays, penalties, knock yourself out. Negative yards plays. You can just go across the board in all three phases,” Pagano pointed out later. “[There] were a lot of good things also. This one’s going to stick in the pit of their stomachs, in all our stomachs, for quite some time.”
Gabbert completed only 10 of 21 passes for 155 yards and was sacked once by Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis. But the former University of Missouri signal caller did enough to lead Jacksonville to the win.
Luck, meanwhile, was forced to throw more than he wanted to due to an inconsistent running game. He connected on 22 of a season-high 46 passes for 313 yards (also a career-best) and two touchdowns.
“I think maybe just a little lack of focus. I point the finger at myself for some bad decisions. Throwing a ball straight to the mike [middle] linebacker. A couple passes are behind guys on third down that would have kept drives going,” he said afterward.
“I think the finger needs to be pointed at me. I’m sure everybody feels like they have something to clean up. I don’t think it’s the end of the world. I think there are things that can be fixed. We’ll get back to work this off week and try to fix them for the next game.”
It was the third quarter interception by Posluszny that bothered him the most.
“Very bad decision is what it boils down to,” Luck said.
The worst part of Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville is that the Colts have to wait two weeks before they play again. Indianapolis has a bye week coming up and will be practicing three days before getting the weekend off. Green Bay comes to town Oct. 7.”
Jaguars 22, Colts 17
At Lucas Oil Stadium
Jacksonville 3 0 10 9 — 22
Indianapolis 7 7 0 3 — 17
Jac—FG Scobee 44
Ind—Hilton 40 pass from Luck (Vinatieri kick)
Ind—Moore 4 pass from Luck (Vinatieri kick)
Jac—Jones-Drew 59 run (Scobee kick)
Jac—FG Scobee 47
Jac—FG Scobee 26
Ind—FG Vinatieri 37
Jac—Shorts 80 pass from Gabbert (run failed)
RUSHING—Jacksonville, Jones-Drew 28-177, Gabbert 2-11, Jones 1-1, Shorts 1-(minus 4). Indianapolis, D.Brown 18-62, Luck 4-50, Ballard 5-12, Moore 2-0.
PASSING—Jacksonville, Gabbert 10-21-0-155. Indianapolis, Luck 22-46-1-313.
RECEIVING—Jacksonville, Elliott 2-24, Jones-Drew 2-16, Jones 2-12, Shorts 1-80, Lewis 1-8, Thomas 1-8, Blackmon 1-7. Indianapolis, Wayne 8-88, Allen 5-35, Hilton 4-113, Avery 2-28, D.Brown 1-39, Collie 1-6, Moore 1-4.