The Jacksonville Jaguars picked up one of the most-needed wins in recent franchise history on Sunday.
A week after a big letdown in the opener, the Jaguars did the one thing they have managed to do consistently: dominate the Indianapolis Colts at home, routing their AFC South foes 24-0 for their eighth win against the Colts in Jacksonville in a row.
The defense swarmed. The offense moved the ball and limited mistakes. In short, the Jaguars, finally, played winning football.
The Jaguars saw Matt Ryan open the game with a pair of big passes; a 19-yard completion to a split-out Nyheim Hines and a 10-yard completion to Asthon Dulin on 3rd-and-5. But the Jaguars also forced the Colts into manageable situations after limiting Jonathan Taylor to two yards on his first two carries.
These manageable situations turned into a 3rd-and-long, a scenario the Jaguars' defense is built for. The Jaguars made the Colts pay, too.
With No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker fresh off a one-sack, one-interception performance in Week 1, it was Walker who once again came up big for the Jaguars. This time, the rookie linebacker stunted inside and managed to land a hit on Ryan, forcing him to toss a floater into the secondary that was intercepted by Rayshawn Jenkins.
Jenkins' interception, his first as a Jaguar, was the Jaguars' fourth takeaway of the first five quarters of the season after forcing just nine takeaways in 17 games last season.
The Jaguars' offense made sure to keep their end of the bargain, even if it took some aggressiveness from Doug Pederson. After the Jaguars got an early third-down conversion, they faced 4th-and-3 from their own 47. What is normally a punting situation turned into an aggressive gamble from Pederson, with Lawrence converting on a eight-yard gain to Zay Jones.
Lawrence ended the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Christian Kirk, the culmination of a 15-play, 68-yard drive that ate up over nine minutes. Lawrence was perfect on the opening drive, completing 7-of-7 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown while the offense picked up five first downs.
Jacksonville's defense kept after Ryan on the next drive. With the Colts appearing unable to contain the Jaguars' edge rush, Josh Allen got in on the turnover battle, forcing a fumble on his first sack of Ryan. While the Colts recovered, Allen came right back the next drive to sack Ryan on 3rd-and-long, his second sack of the half.
The Jaguars' offense made their own luck after Allen's second sack. A drive after they went three-and-out, the offense was clicking on all cylinders, finally getting positive gains on the ground and with Lawrence picking up multiple first downs, including a 26-yard gain to Kirk on a broken play.
A play later, the Jaguars struck again. This time it was thanks to the feet of James Robinson, who darted across the middle of the field for a 37-yard touchdown to go up 14-0. A Riley Patterson field goal from 52 yards out would give the Jaguars a 17-0 lead going into halftime, just a week after they scored three points in the first half.
Jacksonville's first half saw each side of the ball dominate in spurts. The Jaguars limited the Colts to 71 yards on 21 plays (3.38 yards per play), while the Jaguars gained 197 yards at a 5.79 yards per play pop. Jacksonville recorded three sacks (two by Allen, one by Arden Key) and held Taylor to four yards on five carries.
Jacksonville came out with the same fire on defense in the second half, once again forcing the Colts off the field on third-down after Foyesade Oluokun recorded a pass breakup on 3rd-and-3. The Colts recorded just four first downs on their first six drives, with only the first drive having multiple first downs.
Pederson and Lawrence kept their foot on the pedal, mixing in Lawrence runs, screens to Travis Etienne, and a continued emphasis of Kirk and Evan Engram. Lawrence completed his second touchdown of the day -- and third of the season -- to Kirk again to go up 24-0, a five-yard toss on 4th-and-1.
The defense, meanwhile, stayed after the Colts in their own right. The pressure on the immobile Ryan was fierce, coming in waves from both the edge and interior, with Roy Robertson-Harris and Adam Gotsis each recording sacks and Walker recording a pressure on Ryan to flush him out of the pocket and into an incompletion on fourth-down in the Colts' only red-zone trip.
Jacksonville made a few more plays to truly put the game away, with Jenkins ending his best performance as a Jaguar with a critical fourth-down pass breakup in the end zone on the Colts' lone red-zone appearance. The Jaguars also saw rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd break up one pass in the end-zone before recording an interception on the next drive after a Foley Fatukasi tip.
To put an emphasis on the dominant performance from the defense, the Jaguars recorded their third interception of the game and fifth of the 2022 season when second-year safety Andre Cisco picked off Ryan with just over 2:00 left.
This is the first shutout the Jaguars have recorded since they beat the Colts 6-0 on Dec. 2, 2018 in Jacksonville. This is the eighth game in a row the Jaguars have defeated the Colts at home, with the Colts last win in Jacksonville coming in Week 2 in 2014.
Stats of the Game (9/18/22 vs. Colts)
- Trevor Lawrence completed 25 of 30 passes, setting the Jaguars all-time single-game record for completion percentage, min. 30 attempts (83.3%). He would have been 26 of 31 had it not been for 1 completion negated by off-setting penalties. Jaguars had 2 drops.
- With 235 passing yards, Lawrence eclipsed 4,000 for his career (4,151).
- With 25 pass completions, Lawrence eclipsed 400 for his career (408).
- With 0 interceptions, Lawrence produced his 10th career game with 0 interceptions.
- Lawrence notched his 4th career win—all four coming against opposing quarterbacks drafted Top-7 overall (9/18/22 vs. Matt Ryan, 1/9/22 vs. Carson Wentz, 11/7/21 vs. Josh Allen and 10/17/21 vs. Tua Tagovailoa).
- With 1 rushing touchdown, James Robinson moved into a tie for 5th place in Jaguars history with 17 (tied with Leonard Fournette and David Garrard).
- Christian Kirk led the Jaguars in receiving yards (78), yards/catch (13.0) and touchdown receptions (2).
- 4 Jaguars defenders produced 4+ total tackles (Devin Lloyd, Andre Cisco, Foysade Oluokun, and Shaquill Griffin).