Indianapolis Colts ugly and lucky in win over Jags


The Indianapolis Colts overcome the absence of superstar quarterback Andrew Luck (out with a shoulder injury) and managed to defeat their division rival, the Jacksonville Jaguars, 16-13 thanks to an Adam Vinatieri field goal in overtime – and a couple of misses, courtesy of Jaguars’ kicker Jason Myers.

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It wasn’t pretty but it was still a win and now the Colts are in first place in the AFC South with an even record (2-2). The Tennessee Titans (1-2) looked good so far and after a week 4 bye are in sole possession of the division’s second place behind the Colts. Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans have a 1-3 record and neither team seems poised to go after the division crown this year.

With this win the Indianapolis Colts extend their winning streak against division opponent to 15 games, tying the longest streak in NFL history (Miami Dolphins, 1972-73). On Thursday night they’ll have a chance to break the record as they will go against the Houston Texans on the road.

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Against the Jags the Colts’ offense lacked big plays, a trademark of Andrew Luck’s style, but were able to move the chains nonetheless thanks to Matt Hasselbeck’s efficiency. The 40-years old quarterback finished the day with 20 completions on 47 attempts, 282 passing yards, one touchdown and no picks. Hasselbeck’s quick decisions helped a struggling offensive line that was graded very positively overall by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) for the first time this season.

Despite some improvements the Colts still couldn’t get rid of bad habits and took to overtime a game that they could have (and probably should have) won sooner: the QB was sacked three times, they failed to score touchdowns when they reached the red zone in more than one occasion and their running backs, Frank Gore and Josh Robinson, lost two fumbles.

Defensively, the Colts were able to contain the run pretty well as defensive linemen Kendall Langford and rookie Henry Anderson kept the Jags’ offensive line on their toes. They still yielded 105 rushing yards to rookie running back T. Yeldon but the Colts suffered the most against the Jags’ passing attack. Allen Hurns had a career day with his 11 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown while Robinson and Lewis combined for 120 yards on 9 catches.

Cornerback Darius Butler is responsible for a lot of those yards as he struggled to cover his assignments all day long. Vontae Davis wasn’t perfect either but he made a couple of nice plays and the Colts’ defense held the Jags to 38% conversion on third down (7/18) and zero points in the second half of the game – and in overtime too.

Oct 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore(23) runs the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars in overtime at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the day, special teams played the biggest role in this game. Veteran Adam Vinatieri was perfect on the day, nailing 3/3 field goals and one extra point while Jason Myers was able to convert only 2 of four total attempts – and two of those could have won the game for the visiting team.

With 6 seconds left in regulation Myers failed two 53-yard field goals (the first one didn’t count because Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano called a timeout in order to “ice” the kicker) and he failed once again in overtime from 48 yards. After a nice drive orchestrated by Hasselbeck and finished by Gore the Colts came out on top thanks to Vinatieri’s 27-yarder.

The Indianapolis Colts got lucky this time but there are still a lot of areas of concern at this point: they had 60 net rushing yards and got torched defensively, allowing 142 yards on the ground and 289 yards through the air. Andrew Luck’s status is still uncertain for Thurday night’s showdown in Houston but even if he plays Colts’ fans should prepare for another nail-biter as this team hasn’t been able to dominate weaker opponents so far.

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