It wasn’t always pretty, but yesterday the Jaguars took home team advantage to take their season start to 1-3 and hopefully use London as a springboard to greater success in the NFL this year.
While both teams made mistakes in the early exchanges, it seemed that Colts were the team suffering more with jet lag and also against the fans. With this the Jags fourth encounter in London and steadily becoming a more ‘British’ team, many of the fans were on their side.
It was a beautiful afternoon in North London and while the Jags took the game in the end, it was never comfortable. Blake Bortles, QB for the Jags, threw 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns but he still never quite looked comfortable in his game (maybe he saw the signs some fans had saying ‘We came to watch Bortles throw interceptions).
Jaguars took the first points of the game when in the first quarter the tone of Andrew Luck’s afternoon was set. Jags linebacker Dante Fowler swatted a pass before it had even left Luck’s hand and fell to the hands of Yannick Ngakoue who sent it back to the Colts 24 yard line. Move on another six plays and Bortles hit Allan Robinson on a quick run in the end zone for his first points of the game.
The Colts came back with a couple of field goals to reduce the deficit to one but for three quarters that was the best they could achieve. Another touchdown for the Jaguars and three unanswered field goals and they headed into the fourth quarter with a 17 point lead. They and the fans could almost taste their first victory. Couldn’t they?
Well if they could the Colts weren’t ready to give it to them on a plate. A team that has yet to lead at half time and seems to do all their playing in the second half certainly shook off jet lag for a late rally.
The fourth quarter was wild. It produced twice as many touchdowns as the first three quarters combined. Luck suddenly had the time he needed to throw and had scoring drives of 75 and 78 yards only for the Jags to respond with another touchdown as Allen Hurns tore away for a 42 yard touchdown, effortlessly cutting his way through a pack of defenders.
That should have sealed the game but no, a defensive breakdown allowed Luck to hit Phillip Dorsett almost immediately for another score. No one would have predicted a Colts win after the first three quarters and now suddenly it seemed possible. But they held strong, just long enough and stopped the one last desperation play of the Colts.
For all of the Jags and a lot of people in Wembley there was a big sigh of relief at the end of the game. Victory in London last year gave a bit of a kick start to the rest of their season and there’s hope that this will be the same. Certainly for head coach Gus Bradley who after almost four seasons with the team has a 13-39 record. There’s a long way to go but they should take some heart from holding on for the win.