JACKSONVILLE – A pleasant change of scenery didn't help the Jaguars Sunday.
But after a difficult first half in their regular-season home opener, they did get their first regular-season glimpse of the future.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes and the Jaguars' offense and defense struggled throughout the first half of a 44-17 Colts victory in front of 60,601 in the Jaguars' 2014 regular-season home opener at EverBank on Sunday afternoon.
The major news for the Jaguars came as the third quarter began.
That was when rookie quarterback Blake Bortles made his regular-season debut, entering the game with the Jaguars trailing 30-0 and having produced just 55 first-half yards.
Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, replaced veteran Chad Henne, who had completed four of seven passes for 33 yards in the first half. Bortles completed 14 of 24 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, and the Jaguars' offense showed signs of life at various times in the second half.
The Colts (1-2) outgained the Jaguars 330-55 in the first half and had 18 first downs to two for the Jaguars at that point. The Jaguars had 16 first downs and 289 yards in the second half.
Until Bortles' entry into the game, this game felt similar to the previous week.
The Jaguars (0-3) had lost to the Washington Redskins, 41-10, in Landover, Md., last week. As of halftime Sunday, they had been outscored 105-10 since leading 17-0 in Philadelphia in Week 1.
As was the case in Washington, when the Redskins took an early 21-0 lead, the Jaguars fell behind early. The Colts led 10 after a quarter, then extended the lead to thirty by halftime.
The 30 points was the most the Jaguars had allowed in a first half in franchise history.
The Colts' 10-0 lead came on a 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri and a 6-yard pass from Luck to running back Ahmad Bradshaw as Luck continuously peppered the defense with passes to the backs and tight ends in the first quarter.
Indianapolis essentially clinched the game as the Jaguars continued to struggle in the second quarter. Luck's 1-yard touchdown to tight end Dwayne Allen made it 17-0, and Vinatieri field goals of 23 and 25 yards pushed the lead to 23-0.
Jaguars wide receiver Mike Brown fumbled after a 14-yard gain to start the series after Vinatieri's 25-yard field goal. Luck's third touchdown pass of the half went to tight end Coby Fleener four plays and 29 yards later. It was good for seven yards and a 30-0 Colts lead with :28 remaining in the half.
The Jaguars, after rushing for 10 yards on 25 carries against Washington last week, improved that area, finishing Sunday with 92 yards on 18 carries. Toby Gerhart rushed for eight yards on 29 carries for the Jaguars and Denard Robinson rushed for eight yards on 33 carries.
The Jaguars' defense struggled against the run for a second consecutive week, with the Colts rushing for 132 yards on 22 carries. Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 65 yards on nine carries and Trent Richardson rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries. Luck finished having completed 31 of 39 passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee's 41-yard field goal in the third quarter made it 30-3, then Luck's 1-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks pushed the Colts' lead to 37-3.
Bortles threw his first NFL touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter, throwing down the middle to rookie wide receiver Allen Hurns, who broke a tackle en route to a 63-yard touchdown to make it 37-10, Colts.
Colts cornerback Greg Toler returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown with 2:59, then Bortles completed a 10-yard touchdown to wide receiver Cecil Shorts III with 18 seconds remaining.
On the scoreboard, it was pretty much the start of the game. As was the case a week ago, the Jaguars were overwhelmed early, with the Colts methodically taking a 10-0 first-quarter lead then easily pulling away for a 30-point halftime lead. In terms of momentum and the season, the turning point may have come with Bortles entering the game in the third quarter. The offense moved more effectively, and there was a different energy in the second half.
1.Jaguars safety Winston Guy had a nice pass breakup on a pass from Luck to Reggie Wayne on the Colts' first drive. The incomplete pass helped stop the drive and set up a 48-yard field goal by Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. …
2.Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch sacked Luck on 3rd-and-2 from the Jaguars 20 early in the second quarter. That stopped a drive and led to a 43-yard field goal by Vinatieri. …
3.Bortles made several impressive plays early, with the most memorable coming on 2nd-and-7 on his second series. As he dropped to pass, he immediately moved to his left, but evaded a rush there and rolled to his right, completing a 27-yard pass to fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou. It was an instinctive, feel-driven play that can't be taught. It led to the Jaguars' first score of the game, Scobee's 41-yard field goal. …
4.Rookie wide receiver Allen Hurns caught his third touchdown pass of the season when he caught a pass across the middle from Bortles, then broke a tackle by cornerback Darius Butler. He burst into the clear after breaking the tackle and scored easily on a 63-yard touchdown with 6:51 remaining.
Jaguars safety Winston Guy had muscle cramps in third quarter and returned.
Wide receivers Cecil Shorts III and Hurns as expected played on Sunday, with Shorts playing with a hamstring issue and Hurns playing with an ankle injury sustained last week against Washington.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee missed with a hamstring injury, having been ruled out Thursday.
Hurns, Shorts, rookie Allen Robinson and Brown were the active receivers, with Tavarres King – signed from the Carolina Panthers' practice squad this week – inactive. Also inactive were tight end Clay Harbor, offensive tackle Austin Pasztor, running back Storm Johnson, cornerback Jeremy Harris and offensive guard Tyler Shatley.