INDIANAPOLIS – Senior writer John Oehser examines the game that was in the Jaguars' 29-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday: On RB Leonard Fournette's return, the Jaguars' rotating left-tackle position and more ….
"I FELT GOOD"
They ran him often, and he ran hard.
If that wasn't enough for a Jaguars victory Sunday, it was enough for second-year running back Leonard Fournette to feel good about his health.
"I'm good," Fournette said following the Jaguars' loss to the Colts Sunday. "I felt good with it."
Fournette, who missed the final four games before a Week 9 bye week last Sunday, returned on Sunday from the hamstring injury that bothered him throughout the first half of the season.
Fournette, who missed six of the Jaguars' last seven games, played an entire game Sunday for the first time this season, having left in the first half of both a Week 1 victory over the New York Giants and a Week 4 victory over the New York Jets.
Sunday's results: 109 total yards – rushing and receiving – for Fournette and two touchdowns along with 415 total yards for the Jaguars' offense. The offense registered 13 first-half points Sunday after scoring six first-half points during a four-game losing streak in October.
"I just think we played the way we want to play," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said of Fournette's return. "I think it's helpful. I think we'll get better at it. …The more that we're together and working and playing in this type of style, it's obviously a style that we've game planned for, worked hard to do.
"I think that it, obviously, helps us. We saw that today to a certain extent."
Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft from Louisiana State University, rushed for 53 yards on 22 carries and caught five passes for 56 yards Sunday. He ran for a one-yard first-half touchdown and caught a one-yard pass for a second-half touchdown, marking the first time in 16 regular-season NFL games he has caught a touchdown and ran for a touchdown.
Fournette's 109 yards receiving/rushing came on 29 total touches – a heavy load in his first full game of the season.
"I wasn't really worrying about that,'' he said. "I was just looking for a way to win."
The 26 points Sunday were the Jaguars' most since a 31-12 Week 4 victory over the New York Jets on September 30.
After not scoring a first-half touchdown in four games in October, the Jaguars scored a pair of first-half touchdowns Sunday – an 80-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Bortles to wide receiver Donte Moncrief and Fournette's one-yard run.
"Anytime he's going to play and be on the field, guys are going to prepare to stop him after the year that he had last year and the stuff he put on tape," Bortles said of Fournette, who rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie last season.
The Jaguars on Sunday rotated left tackles Josh Walker and Ereck Flowers – in part by necessity. Walker, who started the final three games before last Sunday's bye after early-season injuries to starter Cam Robinson and backup Josh Wells, started again Sunday and was bothered by a foot injury. Flowers, the No. 9 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Giants who was signed by the Jaguars after the injuries to Robinson and Wells, entered the game on the first series of the second quarter. The pair shared series until Flowers sustained a third-quarter knee injury. "We wanted to see what we had with Ereck," Marrone said. "Then it became a position where Josh had a foot and then Ereck I believe, had an ankle or a foot. But we were going to get Ereck in there in the beginning, just to see what we have." The Jaguars also finished the game without starting center Brandon Linder, who left with a third-quarter knee injury.
Bortles: "The reality is we're 3-6 and have lost five straight. So, we've got to get that stopped. We've got to stop the bleeding, get it turned around and finish the season strong. Whatever happens at the end happens. But this is not a team that should be losing games like this."
Defensive end Calais Campbell: "They (opposing teams) are not going to want to play us. Nobody's looking forward to playing us. Desperation, whatever it may be … if we lock in, stay focused, play like we did in the second half, we can beat anybody in this league."
Marrone: "We just have to put a game together from beginning to end. That's what we have to focus on and work our way through this."
Campbell: "We dug ourselves into too big a hole, and then we played the way we were supposed to play in that second half. That's the Jaguar team I know. In the first half, we just had mistakes: busted coverages. It was missed assignments. Once we talked about it, fixed it, we started playing ball."
Campbell: "Our margin for error is zero now. But 10 wins in this league gets you to the playoffs and our belief … that's what we have to believe. I don't know what's going to happen, but the fact that we can still do it … that's what matters to me. That's what allows you to play deep."
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey: "Things happen. Nobody plays a perfect game. Just things happen. You have to try to bounce back from it, but we dug ourselves in too big of a hole today."
Fournette: "We wanted it more [in the second half]. We knew what was at stake. We came up short. That's a part of football. That's part of life. You're not going to win them all. You have to keep coming back and fighting."