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Colts exit Week 1 disappointed in loss to Jaguars, but encouraged by Anthony Richardson's progress

Richardson completed 24 of 37 passes for 223 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and rushed 10 times for 40 yards with a score in his NFL regular season debut. 

First things first: Anthony Richardson said he's okay.

Richardson exited the Colts' 31-21 Week 1 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars late in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury, but after the game quickly dispelled any concern about his status.

"I'm all right," Richardson said. "More so hurt that we lost than my knee, but other than that, I'm good. I've just got to get to the drawing board and focus on next week."

Richardson, in his NFL regular season debut, completed 24 of 37 passes (65 percent) for 223 yards with a touchdown, an interception and 10 rushing attempts for 40 yards with a score. At 21 years old, he became the youngest quarterback in Colts history to start a game – but, as he has ever since landing in Indianapolis this spring, displayed a wise-beyond-his-years level of poise throughout Sunday's game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"He played very well and everything that he did, we all knew he was going to do that," wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who caught Richardson's first career touchdown pass, said. "He's been solid from Day 1 and he's not rattled. The thing about this whole season is we got 16 more (games). It's good that he's not rattled and we're going to go back and watch the film and look at it and see what we need to do to get better and change the way that game ended."

The Colts held a 21-17 lead into the fourth quarter with Richardson playing largely mistake-averse football. But facing a three-point deficit with about five minutes to go, Richardson was intercepted by cornerback Tyson Campbell on second and 10 – and the Jaguars struck for what was an effectively game-sealing touchdown a few plays later when running back Travis Etienne Jr. darted 26 yards into the end zone.

Both head coach Shane Steichen and Richardson took responsibility for the interception after the game.

"I'll take fault for that interception right there," Steichen said. "... It was a Cover 2 deal and we didn't have a great route called there and got to be better there."

Richardson said he thought he could get his throw over the head of Campbell and to tight end Mo Alie-Cox, but he didn't put enough arc on it, allowing the Jaguars' cornerback to snag it.

"That's one of our good plays," Richardson said. "We trust that play a lot, so we called it. I saw the corner, but I just threw it a little too flat, and we weren't trying to attack him the whole game, but I saw that matchup and I thought I could get it over his head, but I threw it a little too flat. But he made a good play. Hopefully it doesn't happen again. We just grow from it."

Steichen was pleased with Richardson's response to that interception, though. He drove the Colts down to the Jaguars' one-yard line before being forced out of the game; while that possession didn't end with points, it still was illustrative of Richardson's poise and even-keel nature.

"You wouldn't have even known he threw an interception," wide receiver Alec Pierce said. "I think he did a good job, even with other people who might have missed a play, he did a good job of just being positive on the sideline and bringing people up. He did kind of mention something to me and was just like next play, let's go. Like, play one play as it goes."

Among the things the Colts and Richardson can build off: The Colts had four completions of 15 or more yards despite the Jaguars frequently showing two-high safety looks to take away deep shots. And Richardson consistently took what was there instead of forcing something down the field, keeping the ball out of harm's way outside of the interception to Campbell.

"I thought overall his performance was good," Steichen said. "There's probably some things we've got to clean up, but I thought he did a nice job."

Where the Colts know they need to improve, then, is in key situations – third down, fourth down and red zone. The Colts converted two of 12 third downs and one of five fourth downs, and turned only one of their three red zone possessions into points (a Richardson touchdown rush).

While the Colts' defense shut Jacksonville down on third down (3/12) and fourth down (1/3), the Jaguars scored touchdowns on all three of their possessions inside the 20. In a 10-point game, those were a major deciding factor.

And those plays were why, ultimately, Richardson was more focused on the sting of losing than any encouragement from his first regular season game.

"We didn't win, so I didn't do good enough," Richardson said. "But first game, first experience, felt good just being out there with my teammates. The energy was good. We've just got to clean some things up, including myself, but it was fun out there just being back out there playing football."

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