INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts' offense has looked unstoppable at times this season — especially during the team's recent five-game win streak. But that certainly wasn't the case on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field, where the Colts were shut out by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 6-0.
The Colts defeated the Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium three weeks prior in Week 10, 29-26, but the Jaguars pulled even with their division rival on Sunday, flexing their muscle at home. Including Week 10, the Jaguars have now held the Colts scoreless for their last six quarters of gameplay.
Jacksonville snapped the Colts' win streak, one in which they were averaging 34.6 points and 411 yards per game. The Jaguars responded by holding them to zero points and 265 yards Sunday — Indy's second-lowest yardage output of the season.
"When the self-inflicted things — penalties, drops and things like that — happen that's the toughest thing, but we've gotta overcome 'em," Colts head coach Frank Reich said following the game. "And we have the last five weeks when we've had 'em — we've minimized 'em — but today, (there were) just a few too many to overcome."
Reich said his offense wasn't able to find the same success against a talented Jaguars defense that plays much better at home than on the road.
"All of the statistics show that this defense, when you look at all the splits for their defense home and away, is better for them at home," Reich said. "They are proportionally better at home than most defenses. They did some different things on defense. They played some different coverages to their credit, and changed a few things up."
The shutout was also the first of quarterback Andrew Luck's career, and the team's first blanking since the Jaguars did it to them during Week 7 of last season, a 27-0 affair at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Luck on Sunday was held to 248 yards passing on 33-of-52 passing, resulting in a less-than-desirable average of 4.8 yards per attempt. The Colts technically netted 224 passing yards when you factor in the three times Luck was sacked, which was the Colts' highest total allowed since Week 4.
"Credit to them. They are making the plays at critical moments and — not even critical moments — consistently, and we weren't," Luck said. "We had our opportunities and we didn't execute. So, credit to them. They played better than us."
Luck also had two prominent streaks come to an end. He was tied with former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning for the second-longest streak in NFL history of games with at least three passing touchdowns (eight). Luck had also thrown at least one touchdown in 34 straight games — both streaks ranking second in franchise history.
"They played sharper than us, if you look at it. We had self-inflicted penalties, and it seems like we've all had our fair share of chipping in. Myself at the top of that list," Luck said. "So, credit to them, and we've gotta improve. We'll get back to work and continue improving, and that's what's encouraging about this team is I know we'll respond."
The Colts' run game wasn't any more productive than the pass game on Sunday — much less, in fact. The Jaguars held the Colts to just 41 rushing yards, which ties their lowest total of the season. Running backs Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines combined to carry the ball 12 times for 32 yards, which was the starter, Mack's, lowest total of the season.
This week leading up to the game, Luck called Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith and Myles Jack elite, and they lived up to that on Sunday. The pair combined for 22 tackles, 16 of the solo variety. They flew around the field, keeping the Colts' runners in check and pass catchers from accumulating yards after the catch.
In regard to the Colts' role in their shutout, some of the self-inflicted wounds that Reich and Luck spoke about were two turnovers — a first-quarter Luck interception as well as an Eric Ebron fumble on a fourth-down attempt.
On top of those issues, you can count a lack of execution. Some of that is on the Colts, but a lot of it is on a Jaguars defensive unit that has been among the league's best over the past two seasons.
Jacksonville held the Colts to 5-of-18 (28 percent) on third down and 0-of-3 (0 percent) on fourth down. They were also 0-of-2 (0 percent) in the red zone.
Things weren't all that put together on the offensive side of the ball for Jacksonville, either. In any ordinary game, six points would not be enough to win. The Jaguars were held to just 211 yards of offense, turned the ball over once and were sacked three times.
The two teams combined for 14 penalties on the day, which totaled 139 yards.
From here, however, the Colts lean on the 24-hour rule, win or lose: revel in victory or reflect in defeat before quickly turning the page to the next opponent. Luck echoed that after the game, knowing a big road matchup next Sunday against the Houston Texans was already looming.
"Yeah, we're all disappointed. I know I'm disappointed in myself," Luck said. "The team's disappointed, but what're you gonna do, sit back and cry about it? We'll put one foot in front of the next and our focus has to shift to improving and trying to figure out a way to beat a division opponent this upcoming weekend."