INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts’ troubles Sunday were printed out in black and white on the postgame stat sheet.
Ten sacks, seven punts, no points.
Heck, coach Chuck Pagano didn’t even need to look at the tape to dissect what went wrong in Indy’s 27-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Couldn’t protect, couldn’t stop them, couldn’t get off the field on third down,” he said. “Didn’t play well in the red area, gave up big plays. There’s a lot to fix, obviously.”
In the immediate aftermath, Pagano blamed himself for not having the Colts (2-5) properly prepared.
That’s been a common refrain after each of the previous 12 losses by 20 or more points during his 5½ seasons as Indy’s coach. Few, though, have looked as bleak as this one.
Jacksonville finished with 518 total yards, Indy had 232. The Jaguars tied a franchise record with 10 sacks, becoming only the third in league history to tally 10 or more twice in a season and the first to achieve it against the Colts during their Indianapolis era.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, who had spent most of the season playing it safe, threw deep and wound up 18 of 26 for a season high 330 yards and one touchdown. He even led the Jags to scores on their first four possessions to take a 20-0 halftime lead.
But those numbers only told part of the day’s dismal story.
When the Colts walked off the field at halftime, they were serenaded by loud boos. When they returned in the second half, many fans left a stadium that never was full and those who stuck around continued booing throughout the second half of Indy’s first regular-season shutout in 375 games, dating to a 38-0 loss to New England in December 1993. Indy also was shut out in the 2002 playoffs, 41-0, at the New York Jets.
And now those angry ticket holders are likely to start calling for Pagano’s job.
Everyone, including Indy’s players sounded frustrated.
“The offensive line just has to play better,” receiver T.Y. Hilton said after catching two passes for 27 yards. “As far as receivers, nothing can change it. We’ve got to take some pride up front and block more. What if we put them back there and take those hits? We have to start up front. Once we get the O-line going and back in rhythm, we’ll be fine.”
Until then, the Colts will be playing catch up.
By snapping a four-game losing streak at Lucas Oil Stadium, Jacksonville (4-3) has taken a two-game lead over Indy in the AFC South and they did it without Leonard Fournette, the league’s second-leading rusher, who was inactive with a sprained right ankle.
Instead, Bortles tossed the Colts a curveball by throwing deep and using Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon to grind it out.
The combination worked perfectly.
Bortles finished with his fourth-highest single-game rating (124.7), Yeldon ran nine times for 122 yards and sealed the win with a 58-yard scoring run late in the third quarter.
“We wanted to make sure we were able to spend a little bit more time practicing a little bit more on shots down the field, put a little bit more emphasis on it during the week, and hopefully they’d play the coverages and things of that nature that we were practicing against,” Jags coach Doug Marrone said. “Those are the types of plays that, I think, on the first four possessions it was probably a big play on every one of those possessions.”
The Colts, meanwhile, only had one serious scoring chance.
It ended on — what else? — a botched quarterback sneak on fourth-and-2 from the Jaguars 6-yard line that typified the day.
“It wasn’t designed to happen the way it happened,” Pagano said. “It’s on me. It wasn’t on him (Jacoby Brissett) — that’s on me. We didn’t get the right play in. There was confusion. The kid tried to do the best he could.”