Luck leads Colts over Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Inspiration one week, domination the next.
The Indianapolis Colts became the latest to hammer the Jacksonville Jaguars at home, winning 27-10 on Thursday night behind rookie quarterback Andrew Luck’s two rushing touchdowns.
Darius Butler returned an interception for a score as the Colts (6-3) won their fourth consecutive game and snapped a three-game losing streak in the series. The Jaguars (1-8) have lost six straight, their worst start in franchise history.
The Colts had cause for concern following an emotional victory four days earlier, one in which cancer-stricken coach Chuck Pagano delivered a passionate, postgame speech in the locker room. Interim coach Bruce Arians was worried the team might crash from the emotional high.
Not even close.
Indianapolis scored on three consecutive possessions in the first half, opening up a 17-0 lead that started emptying the stands at EverBank Field.
“This win was huge,” Luck said. “We wanted to keep our winning streak going. Jacksonville got us earlier this year. We didn’t want to go 0-2 against a team. This is a good step in the right direction, but no one looks back at the fact that you were 6-3 in the middle of the season. It’s what we do at the end of the season.”
Coming off an NFL rookie record 433 yards passing against Miami, Luck wasn’t quite as sharp in his prime-time debut. He didn’t need to be, either.
Luck completed 18 of 26 passes for 227 yards, with an interception and a fumble. But he was unstoppable near the end zone, juking defenders with two pump fakes and scrambling for a 5-yard score on one drive and then plunging across the goal line on fourth down on the next possession.
That was plenty against the Jaguars, who have the league’s worst offence and played a third game without star running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jacksonville has lost every game since a come-from-behind victory at Indianapolis. Blaine Gabbert hit Cecil Shorts III for an 80-yard touchdown in the final minute, stunning the Colts.
There was no drama in the rematch.
The Colts essentially sealed the victory when Butler stepped in front of Gabbert’s pass in the flat and went untouched for an 11-yard score early in the third quarter.
“It was an anticipated thing,” Butler said. “It was something I had seen those guys do on film, so I was ready for it and jumped in front of him. I knew they wanted to get the ball out quick. I was ready for it and went for it. A great feeling.”
Indianapolis became just the third road team to win on Thursday night this season, and just the fifth in the last two seasons. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said before the game that the league is analyzing whether home teams on short weeks have a distinct advantage.
It certainly would help any road team to play in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have been outscored 153-44 at home this season, on the wrong end of lopsided losses to Houston, Cincinnati, Chicago and Detroit.
Against Indy, nothing seemed to go Jacksonville’s way.