JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – File this one under "the stats don't tell the story."
Entering Week 6, teams that gained fewer than 240 total yards and averaged under four yards per play were 0-11.
The Colts held the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6 to 233 total yards and 3.8 yards per play. And yet, the Jaguars won, 37-20, on Sunday at EverBank Stadium, with the defending AFC South champions sweeping the season series with the Colts.
"We all knew what was at stake today and obviously we didn't execute," defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. "Got out-played today."
Here's the more defining stat, then, from the box score: The Colts lost the turnover battle four to one, with quarterback Gardner Minshew throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble on a strip-sack. Entering Week 6, teams that had a minus-three or worse turnover differential were 1-17.
"At the end of the day I was careless with the ball," Minshew said. "I didn't do a good enough job taking care of it. Put our team is a really bad spot and that's not fair to the rest of the guys."
The Jaguars turned the first two Colts' turnovers – a Josh Allen strip-sack recovered by Jacksonville at the Colts' 22-yard line, and an Andre Cisco interception at the Jaguars' 14-yard line – into touchdowns. Minshew's second interception turned into a Jaguars field goal, giving Jacksonville 17 points off turnovers.
And that's a notable total in a game decided by 17 points.
"Got ourselves in a hole there with the turnovers," head coach Shane Steichen said. "We got to be better there. It starts with myself doing a better job there, but I thought our guys fought hard and fought till the end. Obviously, we can't get ourselves in a hole. I've got to be better again, like I said. Hats off to Jacksonville."
Jacksonville scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, quickly putting the Colts in a 14-3 hole despite an encouraging start for Minshew and the offense. Minshew engineered a 16-play drive that ended with a Matt Gay 28-yard field goal, giving the Colts optimism they could move the ball against a Jaguars defense that was focused on stopping the rushing duo of Zack Moss and Jonathan Taylor.
Moss and Taylor combined for 40 yards on 15 carries, and Minshew attempted a career high 55 passes – a number dictated by circumstance, too, as the Colts worked to erase a deficit that reached 25 points late in the third quarter.
The Colts did cut the Jaguars' lead to 11 midway through the fourth quarter when Moss punched in a three-yard touchdown, but that was as close as things got in the second half.
View in-game highlights from the Colts matchup versus the Jaguars at EverBank Stadium on October 15.
While Minshew – who's proven to be one of the least interception-prone quarterbacks in the NFL since his debut in 2019 – threw a career high three picks, his teammates did not lose confidence in him on Sunday. With Minshew on deck to start at least the next three games with 2023 No. 4 overall pick Anthony Richardson on injured reserve, that confidence will continue to be meaningful.
"He never wavers," center Ryan Kelly said. "That's the thing about him. ... e always has a great energy, he's always preparing and that's the way it was in the game. Whether it was the first pick, second pick — didn't matter. Whatever it's called, next play, we go ahead and do it."
"I respect him a lot," wide receiver Josh Downs, who snagged his first career touchdown on Sunday, said. "He's a great dude. I know he's gonna come back next week and play really good. I'm excited to see what he does, I'm excited to see what the team does."
The Colts exited northeast Florida emphasizing the need to learn from Sunday's loss. A third of the way through the season, the Colts are both .500 overall (3-3) and in the AFC South (2-2, with both losses to the Jaguars). There's still plenty of season left, though the Jaguars now have nascent control of their divisional destiny, but that means there are plenty of opportunities to avoid the pitfalls that cropped up in Week 6.
"We gotta learn from this," Buckner said. "We gotta get back to the drawing board, get back to the facility and really learn from the tape and really take away the early mistakes. That's what really killed us, the accumulation of a lot of early mistakes and just continue to get better as a unit."