LONDON – This was not the birthday present Chuck Pagano had hoped for traveling across the Atlantic.
The Colts played with fire on Sunday against the Jaguars, getting off to a sluggish start. And this time, despite another furious late-game rally, they could not extinguish the entire flame.
Jacksonville took a two-score lead into halftime, built on it during the third quarter and then held on to send the Colts back to Indy with a 30-27 loss at Wembley Stadium.
"You can't play three quarters like that and expect to win a professional football game," Chuck Pagano said after the team's first divisional loss of 2016.
An early turnover, late-half penalties and a handful of drops added up to the Jaguars getting out to a 17-6 lead at halftime on Sunday.
Offensively, dropped passes in the first half did not help a group that was starting three rookie offensive linemen at center, right guard and right tackle.
The longest pass, non-screen wise, the Colts completed in the first half was just seven yards.
Knowing the Colts were without several key starters, the Jaguars smothered any big play ability from Indy early on, getting after Andrew Luck with six sacks---the most a team has ever had against Luck.
In looking at the final margin, three points, the Colts could point to the final drive of Sunday's first half.
Starting a drive at their own 20-yard line with 1:06 left in the half, the Jaguars initially started with a pair of runs.
However, three penalties on the Indy secondary allowed the Jaguars to quickly get into easy field goal range.
Three points at the halftime gun extended the Jags' lead to 17-6.
"You can't start the way that we started," Pagano repeated in his post-game presser, "You can't spot any team in the National Football League what we spotted."
Jacksonville came out in the second half and added two more field goals, pushing the margin to 17 points with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
It put the Colts back in an all too un-familiar place of needing a massive comeback with the clock dwindling.
The Colts once again were able to make things more than interesting, but neither unit could execute the final parts of a 17-point deficit.
"You are tired of 'almost,'" Luck said after the Colts dropped another game they had a chance to steal late.
"The Colts are a winning culture. We can't expect to win. It doesn't happen when you trot out on the field. It starts in practice, in the work hours. We can go back and improve and make it happen."
Coming up for the Colts is a week no team in the NFL has ever experienced.
A bye week after London isn't waiting for the Colts.
They will now play five games in the next five weeks, with two more divisional games away from home on the schedule, after next weekend's visit from the Chicago Bears (1-3).
"We didn't finish the first quarter of the season the way we wanted to," Pagano said of the loss putting the Colts at 1-3.
"We came here with the idea that we wanted to win two in a row, wanted to win a divisional game, finish the first quarter 2-2, keep so momentum going but it didn't happen. So we are 1-3. The first quarter is over and we have to move on in a hurry."
Photos from the International Series game in London on October 2nd, 2016 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.