LONDON – London called again. Now, once again, it's time to come home.
This time, the Jaguars head home winners for the second time in as many Pond Crosses – and for the second consecutive season London was a near-certain victory followed by a very possible defeat before a dramatic and oh-so-important victory.
But all of that is so much buildup.
The most important thing about Jaguars 30, Colts 27 is the Jaguars won for the first time in 2016 – and because of that, there's a decidedly better feeling around this team.
It's sure better than the last three weeks. And it was a whole lot better than the alternative.
"Obviously a big win for us," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said following the victory over AFC South rival Indianapolis in front of 86,734 at Wembley Stadium Sunday afternoon.
"Must win," left tackle Kelvin Beachum said. "We had to have it. You can't go into the bye week with a record like that. It was a division game with a lot on the line."
The Jaguars held a 23-6 third-quarter lead, then held on for a victory keyed by a 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Bortles to wide receiver Allen Hurns with 5:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"I like that we came back," Bradley said. 'You can't win the game in the first quarter. You can't win it in the second quarter. You can't win it in the third quarter. You have to win it in the fourth quarter. That's what we did."
Players were more emotional.
"We really needed it," said defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, whose fourth-quarter sack helped seal the victory. "Not only for all of the b.s. talk going on, but it's an AFC opponent. We talk about owning the AFC South … well, that's where you start."
Indeed, while the talk among observers before the game centered on Bradley's job and Bortles' struggles, players afterward talked far more about the game's division implications. They are now 1-0 in the AFC South.
That's significant. This team considers itself a contender with the season very much intact. That's a different storyline than many outside the team are emphasizing, and it shows this is a team believing in itself. That doesn't mean the Jaguars will vault themselves from this 1-3 record into playoff push, but it does provide hope.
Yes, that was the mood Sunday. And, really, there was no other possible mood.
When you're struggling as the Jaguars have struggled to start the season you feel good after a victory. Any victory.
There are details to review from Sunday's victory. Bortles was miles better than he had been the first three games, when he committed seven turnovers. He threw two touchdown passes Sunday. He ran for another. He didn't throw an interception. That was important, and so was his decisiveness in the pocket. Yes, he was sacked three times, but he sensed pressure better than a week before during his disastrous fourth-quarter in a loss to Baltimore. Overall, Sunday was a step for Bortles – and a significant game for a player who during the past week faced more criticism than in any of his previous 32 games as NFL starter.
"Last week was a tough week for him," Bradley said of his quarterback. "This week, he came out and played lights out. That just shows who he is."
There were other positives. A pass rush that generated six sacks. The reappearance of Hurns as a big-play factor. A rekindled running offense. The continued emergence of Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue as pass-rushing playmakers.
All are good signs, and all were reasons the Jaguars won. But as the Jaguars head into the bye week the details matter only a bit compared to the big picture.
The big picture is this team needed this victory – yes, to silence what Marks called the "b.s." talk but mainly just because this team that had been so close to winning finally made plays at the end of the game.
Mostly, it just feels a lot better because the Jaguars finally won one Sunday. Not much would have felt good at 0-4, not with so much disappointment and not with so much noise and so many unanswered questions swirling.
"It was huge," defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. "To be able to win this game for Gus and this team and silence all the critics is awesome. We just have to keep the ball rolling."
Yes, London called and for a second consecutive year London was good.
And while a lot of work remains to have more of these good feelings, heading into the bye week with this feeling …
Well, it was a whole lot better than the alternative. "