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The Indianapolis Colts had to find a way to keep their emotions in check on Thursday night following such an emotional victory just four days prior.
Mission accomplished and then some.
After seeing head coach Chuck Pagano in the stadium on Sunday for the first time since he was diagnosed with leukemia early this season – and after listening to the powerful motivational speech he gave following their victory – the Colts (6-3) travelled to Jacksonville and coasted to their fourth straight win with a 27-10 wire-to-wire victory over the Jaguars (1-8).
In a sign of support for Pagano, Colts players shaved their heads during the week as he began the second phase of the treatment process.
Andrew Luck threw for 227 yards, an interception, no touchdowns, and lost a fumble, but his legs were responsible for the Colts two second quarter scores, as he ran five yards into the end zone at the 13:44 mark to extend Indianapolis’ lead to 10-0 and snuck in for a controversial one yard touchdown to make it 17-0 with 7:39 remaining in the half.
“This win was huge,” Luck said. “We wanted to keep our winning streak going. Jacksonville got us earlier this year. We didn’t want to go 0-2 against a team. This is a good step in the right direction, but no one looks back at the fact that you were 6-3 in the middle of the season. It’s what we do at the end of the season.”
On Luck’s second touchdown, the ball appeared to pushed backward, making it unclear whether or not it ever crossed the plane of the end zone. Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey was livid once replay did not overturn the original call, and he flipped his headset and playbook to the ground as made his way onto the field to argue with the officials. He was immediately hit with a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“I lost my composure because of it,” Mularkey said. “I knew it was going to be reviewed. I certainly thought the review would see what everybody else saw.”
Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert had 209 passing yards and was unable to put together a consistent drive. The lowest point of his night came in the third quarter when Indianapolis cornerback Darius Butler jumped a route on a pass toward the right sideline, picked it off and scampered 11 yards into the end zone.
“We’re so close but so far at the same time,” said Gabbert. “We get drives going and we have to make a play and we haven’t done that. We definitely didn’t do that tonight.”
Gabbert would be replaced by former Miami Dolphins starter and his backup, Chad Henne, after sustaining a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. Henne completed 10 passes for 121 yards, one of which included a four yard touchdown pass to receiver Cecil Shorts to cut the lead to 24-10 with 9:16 left to go.
Butler also intercepted Henne inside the two minute mark and returned it 51 yards to the Jaguars 13 yard line to seal it.
Image Courtesy : Jacksonville Jaguars