Jaguars close season with another loss to Colts
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Maurice Jones-Drew hopes his Jacksonville career won’t end like this.
Thirty-nine yards on 13 carries and one fumble.
It was a tough day for the longtime face of the Jaguars, and it wasn’t any easier for his teammates, who were routed Sunday by rival Indianapolis 30-10.
Jones-Drew hopes to return to the only NFL city he’s called home, but even he acknowledged that Sunday could have been the final chapter in his career with the Jags.
"I’ll go back to work, getting ready to see who I will play for next year. I’ll let my agent handle it," said Jones-Drew, who had five catches for 51 yards. "You never know. It’s what will be the best situation for me and my family."
Jones-Drew was one of many lamenting what went wrong this week — and this year.
After starting with eight straight losses, the Jaguars (4-12) won four of their next five, then lost their last three including Sunday’s embarrassment. The Jags also finished with 1,260 yards rushing, fewer even than last season’s franchise record low when Jones-Drew was injured.
And it all showed Sunday.
Chad Henne was 30 of 51 for 331 yards with one touchdown and one interception but couldn’t get the Jags into the end zone until hooking up with Kerry Taylor on a 14-yard scoring play with 16 seconds left in the game. And the defense couldn’t stop Indy (11-5) until the Colts finally let off the gas pedal in the second half.
It was a miserable conclusion to another bad season.
"We didn’t execute very well today. Everybody took their turns," first-year coach Gus Bradley said. "We missed some reads. We missed some route combinations. We missed tackles. We missed some assignments."
The result was downright ugly.
Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one touchdown, Robert Mathis reclaimed the NFL sacks lead and Adam Vinatieri became the seventh member of the NFL’s 2,000-point club as their longshot hope of earning a first-round playoff bye ended.
"We’re in the playoffs and that’s what matters," Luck said before knowing next weekend’s pairings. "We get to play at home, so it will be fun to not have to wait around to play."
Indy (11-5) is playing its best football of the year.
After alternating wins and losses for six straight weeks, the Colts rebounded with three straight routs. They’ve matched their longest winning streak of the season and their 11-win total from last season, appear rejuvenated on offense and defense and seem to be enjoying themselves mightily.
Luck was 26 of 37 for 282 yards, shattering Cam Newton’s record for yards passing (7,920) in a player’s first two seasons and became the first player in league history to top 8,000 yards during that span. Luck finished his second season with 8,196 yards.
T.Y. Hilton caught 11 passes for 155 yards, both career highs.
Mathis, who led the league in sacks most of the season, retook the lead by sacking Chad Henne once in each half to give him 19. A third sack was awarded to Jerrell Freeman, though it appeared Mathis made the initial contact. Robert Quinn of St. Louis, who could pass Mathis, played later at Seattle.
Vinatieri, long dubbed the best clutch kicker in league history, delivered another strong performance. The 41-year-old made three field goals and scored 12 points to move into fifth all-time with 2,006 points — passing George Blanda (2,002) and Matt Stover (2,004).
Indy’s performance was darn near perfect.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, never seriously challenged the Colts after falling into a 17-0 first-quarter hole.
Even when it looked like Jacksonville might get back into the game after a 37-yard field goal and Henne got them into scoring position late in the first half. But Henne was picked off by Antoine Bethea, which set up Vinatieri’s milestone field goal.
Luck opened the second half with a 7-yard TD pass to former college teammate Griff Whalen to make it 27-3.
"They always talk about December being the second most important month in football and we went out and went 4-1," coach Chuck Pagano said. "I have no idea, unless you guys have any updates, but we know we have a home game. So we’ll wait to see what happens."
So Jacksonville heads into the offseason with some big questions, starting with the future of Jones-Drew.
"I didn’t talk to any of our players about that," Bradley said. "It takes everybody to be part of changing a culture. I can honestly say, I can’t think of one guy in our room that didn’t add to it in a positive way."
Notes: Indy lost starting cornerback Vontae Davis with a groin injury, defensive lineman Aubrayo Franklin with a knee injury and linebacker Bjoern Werner with an ankle injury during the first half. Pagano said all three would undergo further evaluations. … Jacksonville was swept by Indy for the first time since 2009.