INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 34-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in a 2022 Week 6 game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., Sunday
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
1. This one will hurt. A lot. Sunday stung – and for a second consecutive week, the Jaguars sustained a narrow loss to an AFC South opponent in a winnable game. But Sunday's loss had a different feel than a 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans last week; if that game was about an offense that couldn't convert in the red zone, Sunday was very much about a defense that couldn't stop a beat-up – and previously struggling – Colts offense with the game on the line. The Jaguars should be encouraged by quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the offense turning in a big-time drive – 18 plays, 84 yards – in the fourth quarter to take a 27-26 lead. That's a big moment for a young quarterback. But the defense allowed a Colts team that hadn't scored more than 20 points in a game this season to score four touchdowns and a field goal on the final five possessions. "A bunch of guys on the defense were coming up to me and apologizing," Lawrence said. "I'm like, 'Man, there have been plenty of times I haven't been able to get it done and you guys put me in position to win the game.' We're a team. That's the beautiful thing. You've got to have everybody and whoever plays the better, complete game wins the game." Yes, it's a team game. But this one will sting the defense for a while.
2. He's legit. For real. Travis Etienne Jr. said this week he felt he was a play away, an inch away, from a breakout play for his first NFL touchdown. The Jaguars' second-year running back didn't quite get that touchdown Sunday, but he absolutely in the last two weeks has shown he is a big-time big-play threat – and he was a key to the Jaguars' offense Sunday. Etienne on Sunday registered three explosive plays – a 48-yard run in the first quarter, a 22-yard reception in the first quarter and a 27-yard run in the third quarter. The 27-yarder came on the first play of the second half, gave the Jaguars needed momentum and led to a touchdown that gave the Jaguars a 21-13 lead. "For me, it's just going out and being the best player I can be each and every week," said Etienne, who rushed for 86 yards on 10 carries Sunday and caught two passes for 20 yards. "I feel like a left a little out there on the field. It's on me to be better." Many wondered last season and this past offseason if the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft could recover from the Lisfranc injury that forced him to miss his entire rookie season. He has, and is perhaps the Jaguars' best offensive weapon right now. Credit to him.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
1. The last scoring drive hurt the most … The Colts scored on their final five possessions of the game, and you just knew it was coming. They cut a 14-3 lead to 14-13 just before halftime and even though they didn't have the ball much in the second half, they managed to score three touchdowns – including the game-winner. Jaguars cornerback Shaq Griffin struggled mightily against Colts wide receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce giving up catches, yards, first downs, pass-interference penalties and ultimately the game-winning touchdown pass to Pierce. He wasn't alone. Outside linebacker Travon Walker drew an unsportsmanlike penalty for a second consecutive week on 3rd-and-long, extending what became a touchdown drive. The defense collapsed against quarterback Matt Ryan on a day that the Colts – with the NFL's worst offense – were without running back Jonathan Taylor, their best offensive player. It's a body blow to a unit that should have had an advantage but couldn't capitalize.
2. … because the 18-play, 10-minute scoring drive was a thing of beauty. It looked as if Lawrence was going to get his second fourth-quarter come-from-behind win as a professional. The Jaguars' offense was too one-dimensional for most of the game, but on that final drive, Lawrence completed all five of his passes and ran for three first downs. The touchdown call to wide receiver Christian Kirk completely fooled the Colts and capped an excellent drive from start to finish. It should have been enough.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars Team Reporter…
1. Still don't know. Sunday's game is why we still have questions about the 2022 Jaguars. Last week, the offense couldn't score a touchdown; on Sunday, the offense scored 27 points. Last week, the defense kept the Jags in the game; this week, the defense couldn't get off the field when it mattered. The Jaguars haven't played complementary football since a Week 3 win over the Chargers in Los Angeles. A young team will do that constant up-and-down ride of what side of the ball will play well. For now, we will keep asking "What are the Jaguars?" I don't know when we will have our answer.
2. Dink and dunk. The Jaguars now have shown every team in the NFL the recipe on how to beat them. For two consecutive weeks, opposing offenses have attacked the Jaguars by getting the ball out very quickly and throwing short passes, keeping the play in front of the Jaguars. The crossing route against this defense has become a problem. We now can absolutely expect the New York Giants next week at home to attack the Jaguars the exact same way. The NFL is a copycat league. Until the Jags prove they can stop the short game, teams will continue to throw it at them.