Colts vs. Jaguars: Indianapolis Makes a Prime-Time Statement

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistNovember 9, 2012

Darius Butler (20) had two picks and a fumble recovery for the Colts.
Darius Butler (20) had two picks and a fumble recovery for the Colts.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

No one pinch the Indianapolis Colts.

They'd very much like to keep on dreaming just a little while longer.

Their improbable run toward the postseason continued with a dominating 27-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Colts were missing six different starters but still managed to control play from start to finish.

Andrew Luck's phenomenal rookie year took another leap forward with two rushing touchdowns on the first four Indy drives. His legs and arm staked the Colts to a 17-0 lead that they never relinquished.

Despite his heroics, Luck was not flawless. He did have an interception and a fumble, but it was a pick he didn't throw that was a defining play in the game.

With 3:14 to play in the first quarter, Luck launched an ill-advised toss deep downfield for T.Y. Hilton, but the ball was easily intercepted by Aaron Ross. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Terrance Knighton was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Luck, erasing the pick and giving the Colts a first down near midfield.

Luck would later drive the Colts for their first touchdown of the game on the same drive.

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As they have all season, Luck and Reggie Wayne provided the spark for the Colts. Wayne had eight catches for 96 yards, extending his NFL-best yardage total and taking over the top spot in receptions.

The Indianapolis defense was able to shine for the first time in 2012. They forced three Jaguars turnovers, matching the total the Colts had forced in eight previous games combined.

It was a night of complete ignominy for the home team. Fans left early, and some of those who remained donned paper bags over their heads. The loss marked the fifth consecutive defeat for the Jaguars at home, all by at least 17 points.

Jacksonville was unable to run against the Indianapolis front seven, as Rashad Jennings posted just 27 yards on 11 carries.

The real problem point for the Jaguars was the continued inadequate play of Blaine Gabbert. He did throw for 209 yards, but 52 came on a single play—a short catch-and-run exacerbated by a missed tackle in the Indianapolis secondary.

Despite the fact that the Colts played without either starting cornerback, Gabbert simply lacked the ability to punish Indianapolis with accurate throws. The Colts sat in a short shell, taking full advantage of the Jaguars' lack of a vertical passing game.

Eventually, the dink-and-dunk throws caught up to Gabbert, who hit Darius Butler of the Colts at the Jaguars 11. Butler jumped a route and scored a touchdown for the Colts. He had two picks and a recovered fumble on the game.

Indianapolis moves forward with a long rest to heal and prepare for a trip to New England. The rest of the schedule sets up favorably for the Colts, who may only need nine wins to qualify for a postseason berth.

The Colts displayed uncommon maturity. Overcoming injuries, a short week and a media blitz to win on the road is simply marvelous for a team as young as Indianapolis.

As for Jacksonville, they travel to Houston to face the best team in the AFC. With only a handful of winnable games, they may challenge for the top overall pick in the 2013 draft.