Jaguars Work Run-First Game Plan Effectively in 23-21 Victory over Colts
INDIANAPOLIS – Even under the circumstances, the plan didn't surprise Gary Brackett.
For that matter, the idea that the Jacksonville Jaguars – even with a bruised, battered offensive line – planned to run the ball Sunday to control clock and keep the Colts' off the field didn't surprise anyone in the Colts' locker room afterward.
It was the effectiveness of the plan that disturbed the Colts.
And make no mistake:
It was a very, very effective plan.
Fred Taylor, the Jaguars' 11-year veteran running back, rushed for 121 yards on 26 carries, and second-year veteran Maurice Jones-Drew added 107 yards on 19 carries, helping the Jaguars rush for 236 yards in a 23-21 come-from-behind victory over the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday.
"I can't say I was really surprised," Brackett, the Colts' middle linebacker and defensive captain, said after the Colts allowed more than 180 yards rushing for a third time in as many games.
"Anytime they are running the ball as well they were, we obviously weren't getting them off the field. They stuck to their game plan and it's on us to get off the field. . . . Obviously, they had a good game plan coming in and running the ball against us.
"We just didn't stop them."
Said Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy, "They both ran for 100 yards and there's no way you're going to win on days like that. . . . We had a lot of free guys there.
"Their backs are good backs they make people miss and they made us miss today."
A playoff team two of the past three seasons, the Jaguars entered the game without starting center Brad Meester (biceps) and already this season they had placed starting left guard Vince Manuwai (knee) and starting right guard Maurice Williams (biceps) on injured reserve.
The Jaguars, who ranked second in the NFL in rushing last season, averaged 65.5 yards per game and were ranked 28th in the NFL.
Taylor, a Pro Bowl selection last season, had rushed for 67 yards on 23 carries – a 2.9-yards-per-carry average compared to 5.4 last season and 4.7 for his career entering the season. Jones-Drew had rushed 12 times for 30 yards for a 2.5-yard average compared to 4.6 last season and 5.1 for his career.
"We said that we were going to come in and run the ball," said Taylor, a Pro Bowl selection last season. "The O-line wasn't going to be denied.
"Myself and Maurice, we set out to put everything on our back."
The Colts, who entered the game 28th in the NFL in running defense at 181.5 yards per game, allowed the Jaguars 103 yards in the first half, with Jones-Drew rushing for 55 yards on eight carries and Taylor adding 48 yards on 10 carries.
The running game not only contributed to the Jaguars' effectiveness on offense, it helped limit the effectiveness of the Colts' offense, particularly in the second half. The Jaguars held possession 41:35 minutes to 18:25 for the Colts, a margin that was more pronounced in the second half.
"I have to take time out and acknowledge how many minutes the offense ran off the clock," said Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis, whose 61-yard interception return gave Jacksonville a 10-7 first-half lead.
The Jaguars held possession in the second half 26:01 to 3:59 for the Colts, and until Indianapolis took possession at its 23 with 2:33 remaining, the margin was 22:58-2:38.
At that point, the Colts had run six plays for 17 yards in the second half after running 32 for 231 in the first half.
"They had a good game plan and kept us off the field," Colts running back Joseph Addai said. "It's a loss and we don't want that. We've got to make the most of what we get. They did a good job of holding the ball for a long time. We'll go back, watch film and try to get better."
The Jaguars in the second half had drives of 8:41, 3:59 and 12:18.
"They definitely executed their game plan," Colts center Jeff Saturday said. "You have to give credit to those guys. They played a hard-fought game and their kicker (Josh Scobee) made a heck of a kick at the end of the game to win it."
Said Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, "It's tough. My hat goes off to them. They had a good game plan to run the ball and try to keep our offense off the field. They did a good job doing that. They have two tough backs, but there were some plays where we should have had them down.
"As a defense, we'll take a look at the film on Monday and we'll analyze it and know exactly what happened. It's hard to tell now."