The Jacksonville Jaguars fell to the Indianapolis Colts in what was deemed a "playoff" game by many. As we all know, with a victory the Jaguars could have clinched their first ever AFC South title. The Colts however, were playing for their playoff lives. There's no single person to blame in the Jaguars fall, it was a myriad of issues. Turnovers, penalties, and bad coaching decisions.
Oh boy.I knew the Jaguars were in trouble after their first offensive possession. The Colts got the ball first and moved right down the field and scored on a Peyton Manning pass to Austin Collie. On the Jaguars first play, Maurice Jones-Drew fell forward on a running play for 4 yards. The next play Jones-Drew was stuffed up the middle for 1-yard, and then on third down David Garrard was sacked by Robert Mathis. The Jaguars forced the Colts to a 3-and-out on their next possession, Jones-Drew had 8 carries for only 25 yards. The Jaguars moved down the field on a few Garrard passes and a 15-yard penalty on Colts safety Antoine Bethea, and the Jaguars kicked a field goal on the drive. Those two drives told me the Colts weren't going to let the Jaguars run all over them as they had in the past, and they didn't.
The Jaguars ended the day with 67 total rushing yards, Jones-Drew only 46 yards on 15 carries for a measly 3.1 yards per carry.
The Colts were going to make the Jaguars play how they wanted, which was David Garrard passing the football. Garrard played admirably for the most part, but missed badly on quite a few throws down the field. Garrard was aided on a ticky-tack pass interference call on receiver Mike Sims-Walker, which was later karma called on a Marcedes Lewis offensive pass interference that was only very ticky-tack. Again the Jaguars had to punt.
The Jaguars were down 14-3 after another easy Colts touchdown to receiver Austin Collie when the Colts punted to Mike Thomas. Thomas made a great move to the sideline and took the punt back 78-yards for a touchdown, leaving Colts fans to boo his "fair catch call".
The Jaguars looked like they were in good shape heading into the half down 14-10, but a sequence of events to start the third quarter left me feeling the same way as after the first. The Jaguars burned a timeout 14 seconds into the first quarter, then wound up in a 4th and 1 situation. Jack Del Rio has a reputation for being a "gambler" on fourth downs, I like to call it hubris. It's appreciated at times, but Del Rio still shows he gambles when he shouldn't. The Jaguars were down only 4 points to start the third quarter, and decided it would be a good idea to go for it on fourth down on their own 39 yard line. A botched pitch between Garrard and Jones-Drew, that Jones-Drew dropped, ended the play short and gave the Colts offense the ball nearly in field goal range. Even if the ball hadn't been dropped on the pitch, I'm not sure it would have been for a first down anyway, the Colts had a run blitz drawn up almost perfectly.
Two plays later, Colts runningback Donald Brown galloped along 43-yards to the endzone for a Colts touchdown, aided by missed tackles and bad angles that plagued the Jaguars all game long on defense. The Jaguars next drive saw a botched option pitch from Garrard to Jones-Drew, where Garrard pitched the ball behind Jones-Drew than ended in a Jaguars recovery for negative 12-yards.
After a punt and forcing the Colts to punt, cornerback Derek Cox blocked Colts reserve wide receiver Taj Smith in the back, catapulting him into Mike Thomas and forced him to muff the punt. The punt was recovered by the Colts, and after some confusion the penalty was declined and it was Colts football. The Colts kicked a field goal on the drive, pushing the score to 24-10 and essentially putting the game out of reach for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars were able to come down and score on a Garrard to Mike Sims-Walker touchdown pass, but after forcing a 3-and-out of the Colts, David Garrard sailed a football over Jason Hill's head for an interception by Bethea. The Colts went down and scored another field goal to push it to 27-17. After another botched 4th down play with a penalty on Greg Jones, the Jaguars defense forced the Colts to punt again. The Jaguars made short work marching down the field for another Garrard to Sims-Walker touchdown in 1:27, leaving less than two minutes on the clock.
Then the dagger was drawn, stabbed, and twisted. The Jaguars rushed the kick-off for what looked like a would be perfectly executed surprise onside kick, but the Colts make a brilliant move to call timeout before Josh Scobee put his foot on the ball. The Jaguars then lined up for a traditional onside kick and Scobee kicked it right to Colts linebacker Tyjuan Hagler for a 41-yard touchdown.
Through a series of mistakes, the Jaguars showed they weren't ready to complete the coup d'état. Untimely interceptions, penalties, muffed punts, botched pitch plays, a poor onside kick, and a terrible decision to go for it on 4th and 1 from your own 38. The Jaguars weren't ready.
The playoffs aren't a lost cause for the Jaguars yet, but they need a lot of help now and no longer control their own destiny.