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Adam Vinatieri made a field goal to put the Indianapolis Colts ahead by one point with 56 seconds left in the fourth. Given Blaine Gabbert’s tremendous struggles all afternoon long, virtually everyone in the building thought it was over.
To no surprise, that may have even included a number of his Jacksonville Jaguars teammates, as well.
In an AFC South showdown that the Colts (1-2) were less than a minute away from winning, the Jaguars (1-2) instead ended up leaving Lucas Oil Stadium with a 22-17 victory that completely shattered the hearts of Andrew Luck along with the rest of Indianapolis.
Only eleven seconds after the snap of the first play from scrimmage following Vinatieri’s clutch field goal, which just barely snuck through the left upright, Cecil Shorts III had just dove across the goal line while being tackled, finishing off an 80 yard catch and run up the middle of the field to give the Jags the eventual winning score.
“I told the guys going out onto the field, ‘We’re going to win. Right here, right now,’” said Gabbert. “We happened to get the right look for the play that was called. We just went with it.”
By the time the play was over the venue had instantly gone from jubilant to punched-in-the-stomach shocked. No one donning royal blue was able to process what had just taken place.
The game-winning touchdown pass was Gabbert’s only scoring throw of the game, and also just his tenth and final completion. He netted only 155 yards through the air on the day.
“This one’s going to sit in the pit of their stomachs for quite some time,” said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano of his players. “Obviously, we’re going to have to get over it and move on and get better from here.”
Pro start number three was another success for Luck, with the exception of how the final score turned out. Luck threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns. His interception with less than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter would set up a 47 yard field goal by Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee that cut the Indianapolis lead to 14-13 a few minutes later.
After taking an early 3-0 lead on the game’s opening possession, the Jags did not find themselves back in the driver’s seat until the 11:02 mark of the fourth quarter thanks to a 26 yard field goal by Scobee.
Two first half touchdown passes by Luck – a 40 yarder toward the right sideline to rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton and a 4 yard slant to running back Mewelde Moore helped the Colts establish a 14-3 advantage going into halftime.
Maurice Jones-Drew broke a 59 yard untouched rush to the right and took it all the way for the score early in the third to bring Jacksonville within four. He had an unstoppable day, recording 177 yards on 28 carries.
On the ensuing Colts possession, receiver Austin Collie, who suffered a concussion in the preseason and has had three in total dating back to the 2010 regular season, took a hard hit over the middle after making his first catch of the season and then had to be carted off the field with a knee injury.
Trailing 16-14 inside of five minutes to go in the fourth, Vinatieri just missed a 36 yard field goal wide left following an inexplicable delay of game penalty that appeared to make all the difference on the attempt.
The Colts found themselves on their own 35 with no timeouts at their disposal shortly after Shorts III’s late touchdown. Luck was able to get them all the way down to the Jacksonville 26 yard line, but a final jump ball for Reggie Wayne in the end zone was knocked away to conclude the ball game.
No matter how wild it was, Jacksonville will certainly take the win.
“This win is close to the top,” said Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis. “That was pretty much a ‘Hail Mary’, but it was great.”
Image Courtesy of Jacksonville Jaguars