JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Another week, another win, another reason for the Indianapolis Colts to love Andrew Luck.
Four days after setting a rookie record, Luck ran for two touchdowns and showed he could tackle and take a hard hit in a 27-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
Luck help the Colts (6-3) win their fourth consecutive game and snap a three-game losing streak in the series.
“This win was huge,” Luck said. “We wanted to keep our winning streak going. … This is a good step in the right direction, but no one looks back at the fact that you were 6-3 in the middle of the season. It’s what we do at the end of the season.”
Coming off an NFL rookie record 433 yards passing against Miami, Luck wasn’t quite as sharp in his prime-time debut. He didn’t need to be, either.
Luck completed 18 of 26 passes for 227 yards, with an interception and a fumble. But he was unstoppable near the end zone, juking defenders with two pump fakes and scrambling for a 5-yard score on one drive and then plunging across the goal line on fourth down on the next possession.
Equally impressive was his toughness.
Luck made a diving tackle on safety Dawan Landry following an interception. Luck also bounced right back up after Landry hammered him as he started a slide late in the game. Landry was flagged and surely will be fined.
Luck’s tackle, though, got all the attention.
“Not much to think about I guess,” Luck said. “It was football instincts. You see the guy on the other team with the ball, you’re going to try and tackle him. If I’m going to be the one who turns the ball over, I’m going to at least try and stop the guy.”
That might not be the wisest decision for the team’s franchise player.
“I was afraid he was going to try and take his head off,” interim coach Brice Arians said. “He gets ticked off when he throws those interceptions.”
There wasn’t much else for Indy to be upset about.
Indianapolis scored on three consecutive possessions in the first half, opening up a 17-0 lead that started emptying the stands at EverBank Field.
That was plenty against the Jaguars (1-8), who have the league’s worst offense and played a third game without star running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jacksonville has lost six in a row since a come-from-behind victory at Indianapolis. Blaine Gabbert hit Cecil Shorts III for an 80-yard touchdown in the final minute, stunning the Colts.
There was no drama in the rematch.
The Colts essentially sealed the victory when Darius Butler stepped in front of Gabbert’s pass in the flat and went untouched for an 11-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter.
“It was an anticipated thing,” Butler said. “It was something I had seen those guys do on film, so I was ready for it and jumped in front of him. I knew they wanted to get the ball out quick. I was ready for it and went for it. A great feeling.”
Indianapolis became just the third road team to win on Thursday night this season, and just the fifth in the last two seasons.
It certainly helped playing Jacksonville.
The Jaguars have been outscored 153-44 at home this season, on the wrong end of lopsided losses to Houston, Cincinnati, Chicago and Detroit.
Against Indy, nothing seemed to go Jacksonville’s way.
There were several dropped passes. Josh Scobee missed a 44-yard field goal attempt, snapping a streak of 20 consecutive makes. The Jaguars had an interception overturned by a roughing the passer penalty, keeping alive a drive that ended in a touchdown.
They also were on the losing end of two reviews.
“We’re trying to overcome ourselves,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “We have to overcome ourselves. When we do that, we’ll start winning games.”
Laurent Robinson fumbled at the end of a 9-yard gain, getting the ball stripped by Moise Fokou. Officials initially ruled Robinson was down, but the call was overturned on review. That turnover led to Indy’s second touchdown and prompted Mularkey’s meltdown on the sideline.
Mularkey lost his cool when officials refused to acknowledge his pleas for a review on Luck’s fourth-down TD plunge. Luck appeared to fumble the ball as he crossed the goal line.
Mularkey wanted officials to take a longer look at the scoring play. He whipped his play sheet and headset onto the field, drawing a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“I lost my composure,” Mularkey said. “I certainly thought the review would see what everybody else saw.”
Players followed his lead, getting flagged for five more 15-yard penalties. The Jaguars finished the night with 10 penalties for 115 yards.
“That’s not going to be who we are,” Mularkey said. “There’s no way we’re going to be that way. We will not be that type of team. We will be a disciplined team, we’ll be a smart team and we will be a physical team. But we will not be that team that’s going to have personal fouls. It will stop.”
Gabbert completed 18 of 31 passes for 209 yards, with an interception. He left the game in the fourth quarter after re-injuring his non-throwing shoulder. He could have returned, but Mularkey decided to keep him on the bench.
“We’re so close but so far at the same time,” Gabbert said. “We get drives going and we have to make a play and we haven’t done that. We definitely didn’t do that tonight.”
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