Colts lose—and are done for the season

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The Indianapolis Colts have been shut out of the playoffs.

The Colts badly botched a chance to secure an AFC wild-card spot by losing at Jacksonville 26-11 Sunday and then the Pittsburgh Steelers won in overtime to shut Indianapolis out of the playoffs.

In Jacksonville, the game against the Colts was called the “clown game,” as some fans showed up in clown gear to push for the firing of the team’s general manager after a disastrous season.

But it was the Colts that got clowned.

NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor was held to 77 yards, Carson Wentz turned the ball over twice—leading to 10 points—and Indy (9-8) did little to stop the woeful Jaguars (3-14).

The Colts—which suffered their seventh consecutive road loss to the Jaguars—looked more like the ones who should have been decked out in giant bow ties, face paint and colorful wigs and suspenders.

With a playoff berth on the line, Indianapolis was a no-show on an 80-degree day in Jacksonville.

The 15-point outcome could have been a bigger blowout had the Jags scored touchdowns instead of settling for two chip-shot field goals from inside the 5-yard line. Nonetheless, Jacksonville experienced breathing room in a game for the first time all season.

And they still managed to lock up the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for the second straight year because Detroit stunned Green Bay.

The Colts still could have landed a playoff spot despite the loss, but they needed Baltimore to beat Pittsburgh, Las Vegas to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers and New England to knock off Miami.

But less than 30 minutes after the Colts/Jaguars game ended, Pittsburgh kicked a field goal to beat the Ravens, which meant Indy ended its season on a two-game skid when one victory would have put it in the postseason.

This one had to sting more than last week’s home heartbreaker to the Raiders.

Rookie Trevor Lawrence capped his best game with an incredible play late in the third quarter. He kept a high snap from going over his head, gathered it, rolled right to evade an unblocked defender and then delivered a perfect pass to Marvin Jones in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard score.

Lawrence completed 23 of 32 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns, his first game with multiple TD passes since the season opener. It gave disgruntled Jaguars fans hope for the future, even the ones dressed as clowns.

Only a few dozen fans—a couple hundred at most—wore clown attire to protest owner Shad Khan’s decision to keep general manager Trent Baalke. But their message became clear when one woman not wearing any clown gear was selected to answer a trivia challenge on the stadium big screens. Instead of choosing answers A, B or C, she responded “D, fire Baalke,” and cheers and chants erupted around TIAA Bank Field.

A plane flew a “#Klowntown banner” around the stadium before the game. One fan held a “Trent Baalke kicked me” sign. Another sign directed at Khan and players read, “It’s not you. It’s Baalke.”

Baalke’s draft class has been underwhelming and his free-agent signings produced no game-changers. His reputation is less than stellar, with the last five head coaches he’s worked with having been fired: Urban Meyer (2021), Doug Marrone (2020), Chip Kelly (2016), Jim Tomsula (2015) and Jim Harbaugh (2014).

It’s also unclear how his presence is affecting the team’s coaching search.

Wentz struggles

Wentz completed 17 of 29 passes for 185 yards, with a garbage-time touchdown and an interception. He also fumbled.

Bonus time

Jones finished with seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown for the Jaguars, triggering a $500,000 incentive in his contract by getting at least 70 receptions. Defensive end Dawuane Smoot also landed a $250,000 incentive by reaching six sacks.

Key injuries

Colts lost CB Rock Ya-Sin on the opening drive, a huge loss considering they were already without starter Xavier Rhodes. The Jaguars picked on backup Isaiah Rodgers and practice-squad callup Anthony Chesley.

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24 thoughts on “Colts lose—and are done for the season

  1. Hate to say it but this is all on the coach. Can’t beat the 2nd worst team or the Raiders at home? All on the coach. Good guy but losses are losses. Time to go.

  2. Frank Reich is the real deal. Give him time to build the program. As a Pittsburgh fan living in Indy, the Colts program is strong and has a future. We believe in the Steelers when they were 1-13 with a scrappy kid from Louisiana as QB. Steeler fans proudly wore Steeler jerseys year round win or lose. That is why the Steeler players play with all their heart all the time.
    Go Colts, my number 2. Hang in there Indy.

  3. I can’t believe there are only 9 comments so far, 3 hours after the choke. I’ll just quote a Bob Kravitz from right after the game: “I can’t remember a worse regular-season Colts loss in their Indy history. Maybe you can think of one, but i can’t, not with so much on the line. Total s**tshow.”

  4. This was a combination loss. Jags sliced over, under, and through the Colts’ D all day. A couple of key catchable passes were dropped, Wentz tepeatedly missed check-downs, and Taylor was bottled up. The only bright spots were a couple of good kick returns.

    1. The person online who quipped that the Colts played like they had seven pro bowlers, instead of 7 Pro Bowl caliber football players, was sadly accurate…

  5. The Colts—which suffered their seventh consecutive road loss to the Jaguars—looked more like the ones who should have been decked out in giant bow ties, face paint and colorful wigs and suspenders.

    1. The Colts have only ever been decent when Jim Irsay was sent away and a football GM ran everything like he was dictator of a nation-state. Even then, the colts managed just one Super Bowl win.

      As soon as Irsay hired someone else, it went to garbage – they lucked into another generational quarterback and got him killed with no offensive line, so he quit. The Colts will be in the wilderness until they’re bad enough to get a good young quarterback, protect him this time, and hopefully it works out.

  6. To get rid of Wentz you have to get rid of Reich. I couldn’t believe how he defended Wentz in his post game presser. They deserve each other along with both being fired. Ballard isn’t much better. Irsay under his current mental state is unable to make sound choices about anything. He looks like he is 90 years old and his mental state is worst than Biden.

  7. Even a casual fan could see that Wentz was totally melting down mentally in the 3rd. No urgency while the clock was running, continuing to let the play clock wind down when we needed a bunch of points, way off on passes, holding the ball too long, etc. That’s when you put in the next QB to try to get something going. I’m sure most of us were shouting to hike the ball and then throw the ball. Instead, very slow to do either.