INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-0, in their Week 7 matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.
What's top of mind for the Colts after falling to 2-5 on the year?
There's not much to say after such a lopsided loss for the Colts, who came into Sunday's game hoping to stay relevant in the still-wide-open AFC South Division standings. Instead, they leave Lucas Oil Stadium not only with their fifth loss of the season, but with several key players facing potentially serious injuries.
Without their best offensive player, rookie running back Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars didn't miss a beat on Sunday, and were able to do what they did in their first three wins by jumping out to a sizable lead, and then using a dominant defensive attack — particularly up front — to slam the door shut from there.
It's also the first time the Colts have been shut out in regular season play since 1993, snapping what was the second-longest active streak of that kind in the NFL.
Touchdown. Touchdown. Field goal. Field goal.
Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt.
Those are the first four drives of Sunday's game for the Jaguars and the Colts, respectively.
And Jacksonville certainly could've found the end zone on their fourth possession, but a pass interference call negated another touchdown pass and held them to three points on the drive.
That first half of play did plenty to set the tone for the rest of the afternoon for both sides, and despite being just a 7-0 game for the final 30 minutes, the aforementioned Jacksonville defense — with seven sacks in the last two quarters — more than earned a tough divisional victory heading into the team's Bye Week.
PLAY OF THE GAME
One certain highlight for the Colts came on back-to-back plays in the third quarter, thanks to safety Matthias Farley.
With 11:43 left in the period, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles found running back T.J. Yeldon over the middle for an eight-yard completion on 3rd and 7. But Farley came in and stripped the ball away from the back, which was recovered by cornerback Kenny Moore II. After a review, however, the officials ruled that Yeldon's knee was down before the ball came out, so the Jaguars' drive was still alive.
Until it wasn't.
On the very next play, another running back, Chris Ivory, came charging up the middle for an eight-yard gain, but in the scrum to bring him down, Farley, again, ripped the ball out of his hands. For good measure, Farley fell on the ball this time, and the turnover stood.
It was the first forced fumble and recovery of the season for Farley, and it was his second total takeaway, as he also had an interception earlier in the season against the Seattle Seahawks.
Rigoberto Sanchez got plenty of opportunities to punt the ball on Sunday — seven of 'em — but he did what he could do to help keep the Jaguars' offense pinned back throughout the afternoon.
Sanchez averaged 44.9 yards on his seven punts, four of which landed inside the 20-yard line. Fair catches came at the Jacksonville 9, 15, 14 and 9 again.
With Indianapolis backed up to its own 12, Sanchez even had a booming 58-yard punt that got all the way down to the 30, and could've gotten more if it weren't for an unlucky bounce.
As former Colts punter Pat McAfee would likely say, Sanchez's performance in his rookie season continues to be "good for the brand" (of punters/kickers), and the Indy special teams units have a gem on their hands.
WHAT WENT RIGHT•The Colts' defense forced two takeaways on the day, to zero forced by the Jaguars. We had the aforementioned forced fumble/recovery from Farley, but defensive end Henry Anderson also got in on the action earlier in the game in the second quarter, when he was credited with a sack/forced fumble on Bortles, sending the ball forward 15 yards to the Indianapolis 15, where it was picked up by safety Darius Butler. Butler had a nice little return of 32 yards to the Indianapolis 48.
• Sticking with the defense, inside linebacker Antonio Morrison was everywhere on Sunday, and collected a game-best 13 tackles — eight of which were solo stops. The 13 tackles are also a career-high for the second-year Florida product.
• Rookie running back Marlon Mack showed more flashes of brilliance for the Colts' offense on Sunday, collecting 66 yards of total offense, including five rushes for 26 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and four catches for 40 yards. His first carry of the day was his best run of the day — a 14-yard play scamper to the Indianapolis 47 — while he got 34 yards out of a short pass from quarterback Jacoby Brissett on a play late in the third quarter.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• We'll start with the offense, which allowed 10 Jacksonville sacks on the day. Now, the Jaguars came in as the league's best pass-rushing team, so give them some credit, but the Colts simply couldn't stop the bleeding in this area, especially in the second half when they allowed seven sacks. The Colts were also 5-of-15 (33 percent) on third down attempts, and 0-for-3 on fourth down in a game in which the score dictated so many of those tries.
• Defensively, the Colts were taken out of the game early not due to the Jaguars' usually-potent rushing attack, but due to the play of their quarterback, Bortles. Jacksonville came into Sunday's game ranked near the bottom of the league in passing, but with Fournette inactive with an ankle injury, coupled with the Colts' early loss of No. 2 cornerback Rashaan Melvin (concussion), Bortles went to work. In all, he completed 18-of-26 passes (69.2 percent) for 330 yards with a touchdown, for an overall rating of 124.7. As an offense, the Jaguars collected 518 yards of total offense on the day — averaging eight yards per play — and converted 8-of-14 tries on third down.
• One other major storyline on Sunday were the injuries to key Colts players, which can be found below.INJURY REPORT
The following players were injured during Sunday's game:
• Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (concussion; didn't return): head coach Chuck Pagano said Melvin will enter the league's concussion protocol.
• Safety Malik Hooker (knee; didn't return): Hooker, who was hit in the knee by a diving Jaguars player along the sideline on a 50-yard play from Bortles to Allen Hurns in the second quarter, will have an MRI, and Pagano expects to know more on Monday.
• Outside linebacker John Simon (stinger; didn't return): Simon suffered his injury sometime in the first half and wouldn't return from the game. Pagano had no immediate update on his status.
• Center Ryan Kelly (hamstring; didn't return): Kelly did not return with the offense to start the second half of the game; Pagano had no immediate update on his status, either.
The Colts get a break from AFC South play next week, when they travel to take on the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on CBS. The Bengals entered play on Sunday at 2-3 and were taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) at Heinz Field.