JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The biggest comeback victory in the 20-year history of the Jacksonville Jaguars was made possible in large part by a rookie defensive back who has endured quite a comeback of his own.
Aaron Colvin, who was added to the active roster for the first time all season less than three weeks ago, scored the second of the defense’s two touchdowns Sunday against the New York Giants on a 41-yard fumble return. Colvin’s first score since his senior year of high school gave the Jaguars their first lead of the game, although not until Josh Scobee kicked a 43-yard field goal with 28 seconds remaining did their second victory of 2014 — a 25-24 triumph — seem well within their grasp.
Colvin and middle linebacker J.T. Thomas accounted for the defense’s first two touchdowns of the season as the Jaguars, after being shredded for 254 yards and 21 points in the first half, held the Giants to 75 yards and a field goal over the last two quarters.
"To be honest with you, I envision plays like that all the time," Colvin said of what took place after he and cornerback Dwayne Gratz simultaneously knocked the ball loose from Giants tight end Larry Donnell. "I’m always expecting to make plays. I’m always envisioning scoring touchdowns. And when it happened, I was like, ‘OK, this is what you envisioned.’ "
Until being activated the Tuesday before the Jaguars’ bye week, the fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma had almost too much time to think about making game-changing plays. An ACL injury that Colvin suffered in January the week of the Senior Bowl, where he was part of the South team being coached by Gus Bradley and the rest of the Jaguars’ staff, landed him on the physically unable to perform list when the regular season opened.
In a twist of fate, he received full clearance to play around the time the Jaguars lost two other defensive backs to season-ending injuries in Alan Ball and Will Blackmon.
"He’s been working hard all year," said outside linebacker Geno Hayes, whose sack of Eli Manning caused the fumble that resulted in Thomas’ touchdown. "I’ve seen him out there during practice and he’s over there working hard and getting better. For him to come out and play like he has the past two weeks is gravy. I’m happy for him — very, very happy for him."
Colvin’s score capped the Jaguars’ rally from a 21-0 deficit, although that was followed by their second unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt. Bradley’s decision to go that route twice was looking costly after Josh Brown’s 33-yard field goal with 3:26 remaining put the Giants back in front.
"It felt great to get the score," Colvin said. "But at the same time, I was trying to get the win. So I couldn’t relax. I had to go out there and keep playing."
His retelling of the touchdown was done in measured tones with little emotion and nothing resembling wide-eyed exuberance.
"I never let emotion get involved," Colvin said. "After my ACL happened, I kind of get numb to a lot of stuff. It made me grow a lot more patient and allowed me to put all my trust in God."
Hayes’ sack was one of four the Jaguars had following halftime, with the last of those coming from Sen’Derrick Marks on the Giants’ first play after Scobee’s field goal. Manning lost the ball yet again, and Chris Clemons’ recovery set off a victory celebration.
The Jaguars have nine sacks, eight forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries the past two weeks.
"We know how we can play. We’ve done it before," Colvin said. "So when we went out there in the second half, we told ourselves, ‘Hey, it’s time to play ball.’ "
Added Hayes: "We’ve said all year that anything that happens in the game is on us, not them. So we went in and cleared up what we had to do and went back and did our jobs."
With four second-year players already starting in the secondary in Gratz, Demetrius McCray, Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans, the addition of Colvin makes that area of the team even more of a potential liability on paper. But Bradley is more than happy to take his chances with Colvin over the remaining four games.
"He’s very instinctive," he said. "He’s got a good feel. He’s still learning what we do scheme-wise defensively. But we just feel like the only way he’s going to learn faster is by playing. Things like that play show that even though he’s still learning, he can still play fast."
And he can get to the end zone in a hurry if need be as well.