INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Jacksonville Jaguars endured one final, frustrating farewell.
This time, they blew a 17-point lead, couldn’t pick up the game-clinching first down after blocking a punt with less than 2 minutes to go and then watched the young defense, supposedly the foundation for the future, fritter it away.
Andrew Luck drove the Colts 75 yards in 84 seconds, with no timeouts, and threw a 1-yard TD pass with 9 seconds left for a 24-20 victory Sunday that left agonized players and coaches again searching for explanations.
“It’s been a difficult year for everyone,” interim coach Doug Marrone said. “But you can’t make mistakes like we made today and expect to go out there and win the game.”
If the Jaguars (3-13) didn’t understand that lesson before lining up for the season finale, they certainly should now.
Jacksonville started fast, jumping to a 17-0 lead and appeared even to be on verge of blowing out the Colts (8-8).
But when Jason Myers pushed a 30-yard field goal wide right just before halftime, everything changed.
“We just stopped making plays,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “It was nothing they did. In the first quarter, we were good. Then we hit a lull, mid-game. We had a good start to the fourth quarter, but Luck is a good quarterback, they have a good offense and they made the plays.”
Jacksonville fans have seen this script play out way too much lately.
With the latest loss, the Jags have tied the second-worst record in franchise history, gone six straight seasons with fewer than six wins and nine consecutive years with losing records. Now they will be slotted into a top-10 draft spot for the 10th consecutive year.
Those streaks were supposed to end this year.
When they didn’t, the Jags responded by firing coach Gus Bradley and installing Marrone as interim coach two weeks ago.
In Marrone’s debut, those problems seemed to disappear as the Jags ended a franchise-record, nine-game losing streak.
On Sunday, they were back - and so were the questions.
“I don’t want to say they made the plays, we just weren’t in position on some plays,” Marrone said.
Bortles finished 25 of 39 with 301 yards and one touchdown on a day he was missing his top two running backs. Corey Grant filled in capably, running 18 times for 122 yards, including a 57-yard score that made it 17-0 late it in the first half.
Jacksonville couldn’t hold it.
After Indy made it 17-3, Myers missed the field goal and Luck tied the score on a TD pass to Dwayne Allen late in the third quarter.
But instead of closing it out with the blocked punt at the Colts’ 30-yard line, the Jags had to settle for a 41-yard tiebreaking field goal and Luck took advantage by repeatedly burning the defense over the middle.
“I think a lot of things that showed up in this game you would be able to go back to and put into play with a lot of the close games that we have been in,” Marrone said. “I think that is the challenge for the future of this team, to cut that out.”
For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL .
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.