Jacksonville’s 2nd-year QB Blaine Gabbert threw a perfect strike to Cecil Shorts III, who ran to the end zone for an 80-yard score with 45 seconds left to give the Jags a spectacular 22-17 victory and beat No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck at his own comeback game.
”I said to the guuys going out onto the field, ‘We’re likely to win. Right here, right now,”’ Gabbert said. ”We happened to get the right look for the play that was called. We just went with it.”
Gabbert made sure the play worked.
To everyone, except perhaps Gabbert, it had been a surprising turnabout for a team that had a franchise-low 117 total yards last week and seemed heading for a 3rd straight loss just seconds earlier when Adam Vinatieri made a 37-yard field goal to give the Colts a 17-16 lead with 56 seconds left.
And after relying almost exclusively on Maurice Jones-Drew to wipe out a 14-3 halftime deficiency, and after completing only 6 passes in the final 2 quarters, Gabbert jogged onto the field never doubting himself or his squad. As an alternative Gabbert made the play of the day by throwing his only scoring pass of the game, picking up his first fourth-quarter comeback as a pro and giving coach Mike Mularkey his 1st win with the Jags (1-2).
Shorts ran a crossing route right in front of one of his teammates, and when Colts backup safety Sergio Brown stepped up to cover the speedster, Gabbert jumped on the mistake. Football lines
He hit Shorts in stride and without a single Colts defender behind him. All Shorts had to do was sprint to the end section and avoid a potential game-saving tackle by Cassius Vaughn as he dived in for the touchdown.
A replay review confirmed that Shorts’ leaping lunge allowed the ball to cross the goal line before his knee came down at about the Colts 1.
The Lucas Oil Stadium crowd, which was poised to celebrate Luck’s second straight comeback victory, went silent.
”This one’s going to sit in the pit of their stomachs for quite some time,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, talking about his players.
”Obviously, we’re going to have to get over it and move on and get better from here.”
There was plenty of blame to go round.
Indy (1-2) struggled offensively for the majority of the 2nd half. Luck had his concerns, too, throwing an interception right into the hands of Jags LB Paul Posluszny and was just about picked off by Posluszny again in the 4th quarter.
The defense blew a 14-3 halftime lead, giving up a 59-yard TD run to Jones-Drew on Jacksonville’s 1st offensive play of the 2nd half, and it couldn’t preserve the 16-14 lead for a single play.
The combination Luck to rally the Indianapolis Colts twice, falling short the 2nd time when Aaron Ross split up a 26-yard pass meant for Reggie Wayne in the end sector on the game’s final play.
Luck finished 22 of 46 for 313 yards with 2 scores and left with plenty to contemplate heading into the Colts’ bye week.