INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts improved to 6-4 on the season Sunday with their 33-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in their 2019 Week 11 matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts fell behind early after Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles found DJ Chark Jr. for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 6:53 left in the first quarter to put them up 7-0, but Indy would respond with a sensational 13-yard touchdown run by running back Marlon Mack to tie the game at 7, and then a 34-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal midway through the second quarter gave the Colts a 10-7 lead, and they wouldn't look back from there.
It was a strong all-around effort from all three phases, but the talk of this one is the Colts' run game; Indy dominated up front to the tune of 264 rushing yards on Sunday — their most in a game since 2004 — and had two 100-yard rushers in Mack and Jonathan Williams.
"Great win — I mean great win," head coach Frank Reich said. "We needed that one after a two-game losing streak. We felt it all week (that) there was good preparation. There was an intensity and focus that I think we have all the time, but there seemed to be a little something extra this week and we talked all week about it's going to start upfront on both sides of the ball – run the ball, stop the run and then win the turnover battle. That was really the keys for us and then play smart football as far as penalties and we were able to do all that. "
Here are the FIVE THINGS LEARNED from Sunday's victory over the Jaguars:
» RUNNING WILD: Reich made it clear this offseason just how important the run game would be to the Colts' offense this season, which was evident in spurts throughout the first nine games of the season. But Indy took it to a whole other level Sunday against the Jaguars; its 264 net rushing yards was the 12th-highest total in team history and its most since Nov. 21, 2004, against the Chicago Bears (275). Mack (109) and Williams (116) became the first Colts teammates to run for 100 yards in the same game since Randy McMillan (112) and Albert Bentley (100) accomplished that feat back in 1985; it was only the fourth time in franchise history that's happened in all. "I don't think you'd ever expect to run for that many yards in an NFL game – just defenses are too good and that defense is (good)," Reich said. "I've got so much respect for that defense. I'm just telling you, I was telling Nick Sirianni – I got over here this morning and I said, 'Man, I know we're going to run the ball. We're going to stay committed to our guys who've had a great week in practice. This is a good defensive front.' So again, I can't give our players enough credit for how well they've played."
» CAREER DAY: Sticking with the run theme, Williams, in particular, was really able to take advantage of his opportunities on Sunday. Normally listed as the fourth running back on the unofficial depth chart, Williams was already in line to get extra work against the Jaguars due to an ankle injury to Jordan Wilkins, who was inactive; but Mack being knocked out of the game with a hand injury in the third quarter added even more to Williams' plate, and he responded in a big way. By game's end, he had run the ball 13 times for a career-best 116 yards (8.9 yards per carry); he also added a career-long 48-yard run in the third quarter, while his career-best 31-yard reception converted a 3rd-and-19 play, also in the third quarter. "This team always lives by the standard of next man up," Williams said. "Everybody has to be prepared. You never know what your roll is going to be going into the game because of injuries and things like that. Throughout the week we prepared well and I think it showed today."
» EARLY STUFFING: The Colts' defense faced a bit of the unknown on Sunday, as Foles was back at quarterback for the Jaguars (4-6) after missing their last eight games with a broken clavicle suffered early in their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. So Indy keyed in on stopping the run first on Sunday — and it paid off. In fact, the Colts' defense was so good up front that Jacksonville pretty much abandoned the run completely, as its nine total rushing attempts (for just 29 yards) was the fewest in a game in franchise history. Leonard Fournette, who came into the game ranked sixth in the league in rushing yards, had just eight rushing attempts for 23 yards — an average of 2.9 yards per carry. Through the air, meanwhile, rookie Rock Ya-Sin would log his first-career interception late in the second quarter, while fellow rookie linebacker Bobby Okereke put a cherry on top by picking off Foles on a late two-point attempt and sprinting 99 yards to the end zone for the defensive two-point conversion.
» INJURIES PILE UP: Sunday's game against the Jaguars, unfortunately, wasn't without its share of injuries for the Colts, who face a quick turnaround before taking on the Houston Texans (6-4) in a battle for first place in the AFC South Division Thursday night at NRG Stadium. Two starters — Mack (hand) and Ya-Sin (ankle) — and two key reserves — tight end Mo Alie-Cox (thumb) and cornerback Shakial Taylor (ankle) — all left the game and didn't return. The fear for Mack, in particular, is a broken hand, which could keep him out even beyond Thursday; he said after Sunday's game he was awaiting more tests on Monday to try to determine his exact diagnosis and timeline. But those injuries, on top of those already keeping several other key players out against the past few weeks, like those to cornerback Pierre Desir (hamstring) and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf), presents a murky-at-best outlook for a good chunk of the roster this week. "We all know that Thursday night schedules are challenging physically for the players and what they go through," Reich said. "So every team kind of does the same thing. It's really all walkthrough. There is no full-speed stuff. So we'll have a lot of walkthrough stuff, a lot of mental reps and then try to get guys as healthy as possible."
» NOTES OF INTEREST:
— Defensive end Justin Houston recorded one tackle and 1.0 sack against the Jaguars. He has posted at least 1.0 sacks in six consecutive games, which is tied for the second longest streak of his career (8, 11/20/14 – 9/17/15; 6, 9/21/14 – 11/2/14).
— See more stats and notes from Sunday's game by clicking here.
See all the action on the field in week 11 as the Indianapolis Colts host the Jacksonville Jaguars for an AFC South showdown at Lucas Oil Stadium.