JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton look back at the Jaguars' victory over the Indianapolis Colts and forward to Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks
1.Reviewing the preview.When previewing Colts-Jaguars, the thought here was the Jaguars needed to pressure Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett, protect the ball offensively and stay poised. They did the first throughout Sunday's game and did the second, too – and it turned out they didn't need to do the third. The defense didn't match the 10-sack performance in Indianapolis in mid-October, but it pressured Brissett for four sacks and two crucial interceptions. The thought here was if the Jaguars didn't make mistakes offensively, the Colts couldn't score enough to win – and the Jaguars indeed didn't commit a turnover. As for poise, I believed the Jaguars would need it because I thought the Colts would be in the game deep into the fourth quarter. The Jaguars played at a high enough level and made big enough plays at key moments that they pulled away well before that.
2.As I saw it. The victory over the Colts mattered a lot – not because the Colts were a brutally difficult opponent, but because this was a game the Jaguars needed to win. They not only won, they did so in efficient fashion – taking an early lead and making key plays at key times to ensure the Colts never got close enough in the second half to cause big concern. That's hard to do against any team in December; the Jaguars doing it and maintaining their position in the playoff chase showed maturity that could serve them well in the final month of the season. Quarterback Blake Bortles had perhaps his best career game, and the Jaguars' wide receivers made crucial plays early. That efficiency in the passing game could serve them well in the coming weeks, too.
3.Looking ahead, briefly. Up next: the Seattle Seahawks. This should be the most electric atmosphere at EverBank Field in recent memory – and a victory would be the Jaguars' most impressive accomplishment this season. And yes, that would include a 21-point victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5. The Seahawks are an experienced, postseason tough team with a dynamic quarterback in Russell Wilson. They won't be favored to win Sunday, but make no mistake: they will arrive at EverBank expecting to win. They also need to win to maintain their playoff positioning. The Jaguars talked after beating the Colts Sunday about needing to win in December to get the respect they covet. A victory over the proud, capable Seahawks would go a long way in that area.
1.Reviewing the Preview.The Colts were playing some close games in the weeks leading to the rematch with the Jaguars. And though they played the Bengals, Steelers and Titans tight, I wasn't impressed – and I'm still not. I look at the roster and decide whether a team is well-positioned to compete on Sunday by its talent and the Colts didn't have a player on their active roster I would want. (Andrew Luck isn't on the active roster, and with the questions about his shoulder injury I'm not sure I would want him as my guy.) I thought the Jaguars were a much, much, much more talented team and would be able to do whatever they wanted against the Colts – and for the most part that was the case.
2.As I saw it. This was the kind of game the Jaguars really needed to win. I didn't see them losing, but I wanted to see them take a team that wasn't very good and make them look as if they weren't very good. That's exactly what the Jaguars did. The defense played pretty close to its impossibly high standards with the exception being the run defense – and Bortles had his best day of the season throwing to guys named Westbrook and Cole, who certainly hadn't proven themselves to be dependable options. All in all, this was the kind of game previous iterations of the Jaguars would have stumbled on or at least made much more competitive than necessary. This was not the storyline on Sunday, when the Jaguars were in complete control after taking an early 10-0 lead.
3.Looking ahead, briefly.As certain as I was that the Jaguars would win handily against the Colts, I'm 180 degrees opposite this week. These aren't the Seattle Seahawks of Beast Mode and the Legion of Boom that rolled over teams like a tsunami and played to a championship standard. This team relies on quarterback Russell Wilson, who almost singlehandedly delivers big play after big play at the most dramatic of moments. You would think this group would be easier to beat, but Wilson is such an electric player capable of pulling a rabbit out of his hat on every play that I couldn't possible feel comfortable against him. The theme this week should be "Duval against y'all" because no one is going to pick the upstart Jaguars against one of America's favorite teams with a quarterback playing out of his mind. I expect the Jags' defense to come ready to show its best stuff against the Seahawks. The question is whether the Jaguars' offense can muster another impressive showing against a defense that has a dominant front seven and the best free safety in football wandering the field looking for easy plays. Can't wait for Sunday!