With fans dressed as clowns in the stands and the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL draft in their grasp with another loss, the Jacksonville Jaguars flipped the expected script at the end of a trying season, pulling a massive upset over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, 26-11.
Amazingly, it was the seventh straight season the Colts have failed to win their road game against the Jaguars, with six losses in Jacksonville and another in London.
Sunday's result was nothing short of a disaster for the Colts, who entered the game needing to win or tie to secure a playoff berth. With the Steelers beating the Ravens in overtime, the Colts officially were eliminated from the playoffs.
Frank Reich: “Never expected to be sitting here having this moment right now.”
Says the practice and energy was great all week.
— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) January 9, 2022
All the Jaguars needed to do was lose this game, and the first pick in the draft was theirs. Even with the win, the Detroit Lions' victory over the Green Bay Packers guaranteed that Jacksonville still own the top overall selection for the second straight year.
Trevor Lawrence, the top pick in 2021, endured a mostly frustrating first year in the league. But he was at his best Sunday, completing 23 of 32 passes for 223 yards with two touchdown passes. Lawrence also ran for a first down on the game-icing play in the fourth quarter, finishing with 21 rushing yards.
The Jaguars came out looking like the team with playoff seeding to play for. They marched 12 plays and 75 yards in a dominant seven-minute drive on their opening possession to take a 7-0 lead, with Lawrence hitting Laquon Treadwell for the 2-yard score.
Lawrence hit on all eight pass attempts on the drive, and he'd connect on his first 12 passes before Treadwell dropped his 13th throw. The Jaguars held the lead for the remainder of the game.
After turning it over on downs on their first possession, with Jonathan Taylor stuffed on third down, the Colts cut the Jaguars' lead to 7-3 midway through the second quarter. But the Jaguars added two short field goals in the final 3:06 of the first half, then tacked on another one on their first possession of the second half to go up 16-3.
Taylor broke off a 23-yard run after initially being stuffed on third-and-2 from the Indianapolis 33-yard line, briefly giving the Colts life. But Carson Wentz nearly had his third-down pass intercepted, leading to a punt.
After a Jaguars three-and-out, Wentz immediately threw a pick — his first on the road this season — to the Jaguars' Damien Wilson. The interception was the first of Wilson's 110-game NFL career. Wentz, who cost the Colts their first-round pick in 2022, struggled Sunday, completing 17 of 29 passes for 185 yards with one touchdown pass and a pick.
Lawrence and Ryquell Armstead moved the Jaguars down the field quickly, and Lawrence hit Marvin Jones on perhaps the rookie's best throw of his season. Jones's toe-tapping catch also was a beauty, making it 23-3, Jaguars — the Colts' biggest deficit of the season — late in the third quarter.
The Colts drove all the way to the Jacksonville 1-yard line, looking to cut it to a two-score game before the Jaguars stuffed Taylor on fourth-and-goal.
After the Colts' defense got a stop, Wentz and the offense couldn't convert on fourth down again. Forced to go for it on fourth-and-12 from their own 41-yard line, Wentz's on-target deep ball couldn't be hauled in by Parris Campbell.
Frank Reich: “In the passing game, we just haven’t been good enough, and that does for most of the second half of the year.”
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) January 9, 2022
The Jaguars tacked on another field goal to make it academic. Wentz hit Michael Pittman on a touchdown pass, and the two connected on the two-point conversion to make it 26-11, Jaguars.
That was all the Colts could muster. They saw their season end at the hands of the team with the worst record in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars, who endured the embarrassing Urban Meyer midseason firing and losing streaks of five and eight games this season, now head into the offseason with a little more pride — and better draft positioning.