The Jaguars took the field Sunday in front of a passionate, albeit limited, crowd at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Playing host to the Colts, the Jaguars were heavy home underdogs in week one. With new QB Philip Rivers at the helm, who boasted a 7-2 overall record against the Big Cats, the Colts' offense started quick. But in a game that many doubted would ever happen, both teams settled in and provided fans with some impressive football.
The Colts jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their first drive, thanks in large part to a heavy dose of Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines. The Jaguars run defense, and pass defense, for that matter, looked just a tick slow early on.
After a questionable facemask penalty against Jaguars' center Brandon Linder, the Big Cats' opening drive stalled. Still, undrafted running back James Robinson showed the world why Jacksonville's coaching staff felt so good about him in the starting lineup, with several medium gains.
The Colts were once again driving after a subpar Logan Cooke punt, but the Jaguars came up with a huge stop on 4th and one inside their own five yard-line, forcing a turnover on downs.
The Jaguars took over and were once again moving the ball on the back of James Robinson, but they failed to find pay dirt, after a Denico Autry sack put Minshew and the offense behind the chains.
After punter Logan Cooke pinned the Colts inside their own 20, Rivers got just a bit too comfortable attacking rookie CJ Henderson. Henderson made the vet pay, picking up a PBU against TY Hilton and then an interception on third down. The Jaguars were able to capitalize on the turnover, as Gardner Minshew found DJ Chark in the endzone for the game-tying score.
The Colts responded, however, thanks in large part to two Philip River's completions on third downs, and two running back screens that caught the Jaguars' defense napping. The Colts took the lead 14-7 with 4:45 left in the first half.
The Jaguars were able to move the ball down the field effectively on their next drive, mostly through the air. Minshew showed off impressive timing and accuracy. He drove the Jags into the red zone and hit rookie receiver Laviska Shenault at the goal line for the score, tying the score once again.
Rivers was able to get the Colts back into the field goal range as the second quarter was nearing its end. Rodrigo Blankenship put the Colts ahead by three with a short field goal.
Halftime score: 17-14 Colts
The Jaguars received the ball to start the second half, but after a one-yard James Robinson loss, they got behind the chains and couldn't overcome it. On third down, there was a miscommunication between Minshew and the rest of the offense, which ultimately led to a Justin Houston sack.
The Colts were once again moving the ball with ease after converting a fourth and one on a Rivers to Jack Doyle pass that caught the defense trying to stop the run. But the Jaguars' defense held strong deep in their own territory, forcing a field goal after CJ Henderson covered TY Hilton tightly in the end zone on third down. Rodrigo Blankenship missed on his second field goal try, giving the Jaguars the ball back at their own 20, trailing by three, 17-14, with 7:42 remaining in the third quarter.
On the Jaguars' second drive of the second half, Minshew continued to show off his improved accuracy, finding rookie Collin Johnson for a first down on third down and then drawing a pass interference penalty on a deep shot down the left side to DJ Chark. The Jaguars ultimately squandered their shot at taking the lead after Minshew failed to get rid of the ball on third down. Even after the sack, Lambo was able to nail a 50-yard field goal, knotting the score up at 17 with 3:24 left in the 3rd quarter.
The final drive of the third quarter drug on into the fourth quarter, as the two squads traded penalties back and forth. The Colts had the ball at the Jaguars' 45 to start the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 17. The teams continued committing fouls on the drive into the fourth quarter. A questionable DJ Hayden holding penalty negated a K'Lavon Chaisson interception on a screen pass, giving the Colts another fresh set of downs. Just after that, Colts' tight end Jack Doyle was flagged for a crackback block, pushing the Colts back to the Jaguars' 35-yard line. The Jaguars held the Colts to a field goal attempt, once again showing a bend-but-don't-break style of play. Blankenship put the Colts ahead 20-17 with 9:39 left in the game.
After the drive, starting CB CJ Henderson (concussion)and S Josh Jones (leg contusion) were evaluated for injuries.
On the ensuing Jaguars' drive, Minshew led the Jaguars down the field with a screen pass to James Robinson that picked up a big chunk of yards that was followed up a couple of plays later by a Colts' horse-collar penalty, giving the Jaguars 15 yards and a first down. On the next play, Keelan Cole streaked open towards the end zone, and Minshew found and hit him with ease. The Jaguars took the lead 24-20 for the first time in the game with under six minutes left.
Despite missing several starters, the Jaguars' defense stiffened down the stretch. As Philip Rivers looked to push the ball down the middle of the field, Andrew Wingard — normally only on the field for special teams — picked off a Rivers pass and returned it into Colts territory. The Jags' offense wasn't able to move the ball after being gifted favorable field position, but Lambo drilled a field goal on fourth down, extending the Big Cats' lead to 27-20 with 2:50 left in the game.
The Jaguars' defense bent again late in the game, but did not break. Deep in their own territory, they forced three straight incompletions, including on third and fourth down passes from Rivers to Hilton.
The Jaguars regained possession and took the victory formation.
The Jaguars faced adversity throughout the game, and were far from perfect, but got the job done against a divisional rival in week one.
Standout performances from Myles Jack, Keelan Cole, CJ Henderson, Gardner Minshew, and James Robinson.
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