Following a clunky first half, the Colts beat the Jaguars to lead the AFC South

The Colts look to cement their position as division leaders and Super Bowl XLXI contenders
By Victoria Lane, @vida_lane

NFL Fans and sports reporters alike were left scratching their heads as the Colts and Jaguars ran into the locker room after a bizarre first half, Sunday afternoon.

Coming off an embarrassing week seven loss to the New England Patriots, the Colts seemed poised to take control and garner some much needed redemption against a 1-9 Jacksonville Jaguars team but the Jaguars’ defense had other plans.

The game was marred by a sloppy first half.  And overall, both sides were rife with turnovers, fumbles, and sacks –

TURNOVERS:  
JAX: 2 
IND: 3

FUMBLES: 
JAX: 1
IND: 3

SACKS: 
JAX: 4
IND: 5

By halftime, the score was stuck at a stifling 3-3.

So what was the game changer? Eugenia Emma Hilton.

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Photograph by Victoria Lane.

TY Hilton brought a lackluster crowd to life halfway through the third quarter.  Hilton, whose wife, Shantrell, gave birth to a girl, Eugenia, this morning, promised a touchdown for not only his daughter but also for his fellow teammates. He delivered. Rushing 73 yards, he cradled the football like a baby and made good on his oath to Eugenia and his team.

Not only did the Colts ultimately decimate the Jaguars 23-3 but they also cemented their place as the leaders of their division, the AFC South.

Although “really pleased [with] getting the win”, Colts Coach Chuck Pagano countered the victory with a question, “Why can’t we get hot? Let’s get better.”  Praising the Colts as a “resilient bunch”, he stressed that the Colts “gotta do more, gotta do better.” 

LOW POINTS:

Andrews Luck- During the post-game conference, Luck admitted that “it was hard to get stuff going the first half.” Luck’s reliance on passing the ball off to shaky running backs and his missed connections with veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne top the list of low points for this match up.  His inability to throw effectively in culmination with a sub-par offense during the first half put the Colts in a pickle - can the Colts make the advances necessary to land a spot in a February 1 showdown?

Reggie Wayne- Wayne was absent from any big plays today. Out of sync with Luck, Wayne failed to make an impact in what should have been an all-around blowout win for the Colts.

Colts’ Offense- Precarious protection for Luck and an awkward start by the Colts’ offense put most of the pressure on the Colts’ defense to deliver. “Anytime you’ve got false starts and turnovers and penalties … that does, I think, constitute sloppy,” Luck said after the game. “I think Jacksonville did a great job of forcing us into those mistakes, fumbles and all that. But, yeah, you could say sloppy.”

ON THE FENCE:

Trent Richardson- With Ahmad Bradshaw out, the spotlight shifted back to Richardson. Despite a few big plays during today’s game with Jacksonville – his stats remain low and his performance is mixed.  His inability to make big gains may supersede any hype that followed him out of the University of Alabama.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Pat McAfee- The Boomstick has become a household name around Indiana and for good reason.  While no game changing onside kicks occurred in this match up, his elevated performance has brought the Colts and the title of punter to a whole new level.

Adam Vinatieri- Vinatieri is perfection, simply put. Racking up nine of the Colts’ 23 points, his role cannot be underestimated.  Before the game, during the game and at halftime, the seasoned veteran drilled away, kick after kick, each sailing into the end zone with enough beauty and grace to make Miss America proud.

Josh Cribbs- Replacing Griff Whalen appeared to have paid off and NFL veteran Josh Cribbs did not disappoint. In his first play of the game, Cribbs returned Jacksonville’s ball for 46 yards and from there he only got better. After the game, Cribbs stated that tonight’s game was “validation.” Coach Chuck Pagano praised Cribbs as a “dynamic guy” who will “do nothing but get better.”

Colts’ Defense- While the offense waffled during the first half; the Colts’ defense remained steady keeping Jacksonville’s freshman quarterback Blake Bortles and his offense from gaining much in the way of yardage or points.

TY Hilton – Without a doubt, Hilton was the star of tonight’s game. Tugging at fan’s heartstrings and putting points on the scoreboard, Hilton was the “it” factor that turned the Colts around. “I just had to keep pushing,” said Hilton after the game.

Indianapolis, now 7-4 and leading the AFC South, take on Washington, currently 3-8 and fourth in the NFC East, next Sunday, November 30 at Lucas Oil Stadium.