Defense shines as Jaguars dominate Colts in home opener

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The Jacksonville Jaguars had their best performance in years on Sunday, shutting out the Indianapolis Colts in a wire-to-wire 24-0 shutout win.

In life, some things are a given. The sky is blue. The sun is hot. The Colts can’t win in Jacksonville. That’s at least been the case since 2014, the last time the franchise picked up a win at TIAA Bank Field. Indianapolis has fielded some talented teams during that stretch, but the Jaguars have simply had their number when hosting. 

The last time these two squads met, the Jaguars defeated the Colts back in January to knock Frank Reich’s team out of playoff contention. While Sunday’s early-season meeting didn’t hold the same implications, both sides entered looking to find their footing after disappointing outings last week.

Rayshawn Jenkins flexes, celebrating during Sunday's game
Jacksonville Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins (2) celebrates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts , Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

The game got off to a more than ideal start for the Jaguars. After a bit of movement downfield, Indianapolis quarterback Matt Ryan was picked off by Rayshawn Jenkins. Immediately after, second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence led the Jaguars on a suffocating nine-minute drive, capping it with a touchdown pass to new receiving threat Christian Kirk.

An issue that plagued the Jags in their week one loss to the Commanders was not being able to finish off drives with six points. However, things looked up as Jacksonville produced a quality drive that resulted in a touchdown in their first possession of the game. 

The Jacksonville defense looked strong on their second and third trips onto the field, completely shutting down the Indianapolis offense. Lawrence returned to the field, making safe throws without taking many unnecessary risks. This didn’t exclude exciting plays, though, as he found Kirk on a 26-yard connection to set the team up in Indianapolis territory. Running back James Robinson then navigated his way to a 37-yard touchdown run to put the Jags up 14-0.

Jonathan Taylor evades the Jaguars defense while searching for open field.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) get past Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Foyesade Oluokun (23) for a gain during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

One key to Jacksonville’s success on defense was shutting down Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor. Any fantasy football player is familiar with the name. The former Wisconsin Badger has quickly ascended to one of the NFL’s best runners, but he was held to just 54 yards on Sunday. This forced the Colts to go to the air, which wasn’t too friendly either.

The Jaguars got the ball back, once again finding points. Despite a carousel of potential kickers cycling through the locker room over the past few months, Riley Patterson opened eyes when he comfortably made a 52-yard field goal to put Jacksonville up 17-0. They took this lead into halftime with major confidence, knowing they’d be receiving the kickoff to open the second half.

The Colts held the Jags to a stop, but the offense couldn’t do anything with it. A combination of factors, including 3 interceptions and countless penalties, prevented the squad from finding the endzone all the way until the clock hit zero. 

The Jaguars went on another long drive to close out the third quarter and further demoralize the Colts defense. Yet again, Lawrence found Kirk on the goal line to go up 24-0. The fans could sense it, they would be going home with a smile on their faces, something that Duval County does not take for granted.

Teammates Christian Kirk and James Robinson celebrate a successful day
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) celebrates his touchdown with running back James Robinson (25) against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Indianapolis offense picked up a bit of traction on a pair of drives, finding themselves in the red zone. The Jacksonville defense held strong, though, defending the shutout until the clock hit zero. Speaking of shutouts, this marks the third such occasion in Colts history. Interestingly enough, all three of these have come at the hands – or rather paws – of the Jaguars.

This also marks the first win in the Doug Pederson era. The new head coach celebrated in the locker room with his team before speaking to the media, where his excitement was imminent.

Head coach Doug Pederson addresses members of the media.
Super Bowl winner Doug Pederson has been faced with the tough task of turning this franchise around, but he is more than up to the challenge. (Riley Platt)

“We’re all very proud of this group and just how resilient they are,” Pederson said. “They bounced back from a loss last weekend to putting things together this weekend against a division opponent who I have a lot of respect for Frank [Reich] and his team.”

Now sitting at 1-1, the Jaguars are currently atop the AFC South standings. It’s obviously early, but considering how rough past seasons have been, this is something that fans can enjoy. They will pick things back up next Sunday on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers.

It’s only one win, but when a team has only won four games over the past two seasons, it’s a big deal. Things appear to be turning around in Jacksonville, but this will be put to the test in the coming weeks. As for now, it’s time to celebrate Duval. You’ve earned it.


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