INDIANAPOLIS – “The Streak” is real.
The Indianapolis Colts haven’t won a road game against Jacksonville since 2014.
The last time Indy beat the Jags on their home turf, Andrew Luck was the quarterback. In that game, Luck threw touchdown passes to Ahmad Bradshaw, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and Hakeem Nicks.
Cornerback Greg Toler returned an interception for a touchdown. Adam Vinatieri hit three field goals in the 44-17 win.
The starting QB for Jacksonville? Chad Henne, who was benched at halftime and replaced by rookie Blake Bortles.
‘Streak’ inexplicable to Colts great Reggie Wayne
Current wide receiver Reggie Wayne was in his final season with the Colts during that 2014 win. He finds “The Streak” as inexplicable as anyone.
“Losing streak in Jacksonville – Why? – I don’t know, man. I don’t know. (pause) That’s a good question,” Wayne told our Mike Chappell this week. “How? Why? I don’t know. Stuff happens. When I played I never lost to Houston at home. You lose your mojo, I don’t know.”
Wayne said he hasn’t mentioned “The Streak” to the current crop of Colts players. Neither has head coach Shane Steichen. It’s not something players think about unless someone tells them, Wayne said.
“It’s always been tough in Jacksonville, but we always found a way to win the end. They would do something crazy, get a personal foul to keep a drive going. It was always tough there,” Wayne said. “[Expletive,] they ran for 375 yards one year.”
Wayne referred to the stunning 2006 loss in Jacksonville, when the Jaguars piled up 375 rushing yards behind Fred Taylor and then-rookie Maurice Jones-Drew. The final score was 44-17 at Alltel Stadium.
Just to prove that nothing makes sense about Indy’s Jacksonville woes, the Peyton Manning-led Colts went on to win the Super Bowl that season.
“It’s always been tough to play down there. I don’t know why streaks happen like that,” Wayne said. “It’d be nice to end that streak.”
Since Wayne and the Colts last won at Jacksonville in 2014, so much has changed. The franchise has had four coaches (Chuck Pagano, Frank Reich, Jeff Saturday, Shane Steichen). They’ve had a new general manager (out with Ryan Grigson, in with Chris Ballard), watched a generational talent retire and churned through a number of quarterbacks.
And the Jaguars, once a perennial doormat in the AFC South, have emerged as a divisional favorite behind their own talented quarterback.
Here’s a look at how Jacksonville—and even its home away from home in London—has become a house of horrors for the Indianapolis Colts during “The Streak.”
2015: Jaguars 51, Colts 16
In retrospect, the loss foreshadowed how bad things would get for Indianapolis, as the Colts watched the Jags pile up 51 points.
Matt Hasselbeck started for the injured Andrew Luck but left the game late with a rib injury. Charlie Whitehurst replaced him.
For the Jaguars, Blake Bortles shined, throwing for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He added a late rushing TD as well.
The Colts surrendered an 80-yard touchdown pass to Allen Hurns and a 73-yard punt return TD to Rashad Greene in the third quarter. Jacksonville’s Andre Branch returned a fumble 49 yards for a touchdown in the first half.
The Colts’ offense mustered just three field goals from Adam Vinatieri. The defense provided Indy’s only touchdown when Robert Mathis recovered a fumble in the endzone in the first quarter.
The loss snapped the Colts’ 16-game winning streak in the AFC South. Jacksonville, then coached by current Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, trailed 13-9 at halftime.
2016: Jaguars 30, Colts 27 (London)
Blake Bortles struck again. The third-year quarterback tossed a pair of touchdowns and ran for another as the Jaguars outlasted the Colts at London’s Wembley Stadium.
This one wasn’t as easy as the 2015 win, however. It looked that way for a while, with Jacksonville leading 23-6 going into the third quarter.
But Andrew Luck and the Colts launched a furious fourth-quarter comeback in which they racked up 21 points. Their scores: a 1-yard run by Frank Gore; a 2-yard TD catch by T.Y. Hilton; and a 64-yard TD catch by Phillip Dorsett.
If the Colts hadn’t surrendered a 42-yard touchdown from Bortles to Allen Hurns in the fourth quarter, they may have pulled it off. They turned it over on downs in their second-to-last possession after forcing a Jacksonville punt and moving the ball into Jaguars territory.
The last drive started at their own 18 with 26 seconds left. It ended in a series of desperation laterals.
The Colts dropped their record to 1-3 with the loss, while the Jaguars improved to 1-3.
2017: Jaguars 30, Colts 10
With Andrew Luck lost for the season with a shoulder injury, the Colts turned to Jacoby Brissett in this one. Indy trailed 16-3 at halftime, and it didn’t get much better from there.
Brissett did connect with T.Y. Hilton on a 40-yard score, but that was about the only highlight from the offense. Brissett threw for only 174 yards. He was picked off twice and endured four sacks.
Bortles had another solid day against the Colts, going 26-35 for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The loss dropped the Colts to 3-9, while the Jags improved to 8-4. Indy also lost to Jacksonville at home earlier that season, marking only the second time the Jaguars had swept the Colts in the AFC South to that point.
2018: Jaguars 6, Colts 0
Offense took the day off in this disappointing 6-0 bruiser. Indianapolis failed to score a single point against the Jaguars despite holding the edge in total yards (265 to 211). The Colts were 5-18 on third down and, more tellingly, 0-3 on fourth down.
In the first quarter, Adam Vinatieri connected on a field goal, although it was nullified by an unnecessary roughness penalty, giving the Colts new life. They couldn’t convert.
Facing a 4th and goal at the Jacksonville 1, the Colts turned it over on downs. The defense forced a punt from the Cody Kessler-led Jaguars and took over at the Jags’ 40.
Despite the good field position, tight end Eric Ebron fumbled, and Jacksonville recovered.
It was just that kind of day.
How unforgiving is “The Streak?” In the 2018 season, the Colts got hot and won nine of their last ten games. The only loss? This 6-0 dud in Jacksonville.
2019: Jaguars 38, Colts 20
After Andrew Luck’s shocking retirement in August, Jacoby Brissett took the helm as the Colts limped into their final game of the year with a 7-8 record.
With a chance to even things up at 8-8, Indianapolis faced a Jacksonville team that had only won five games. Its quarterback: an unheralded college journeyman out of Washington State named Gardner Minshew, a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Minshew finished 27-39 for 295 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Jaguars to a 38-20 comeback win. The Colts had a 20-13 lead in the third quarter before Jacksonville rattled off 25 straight points.
It started with a field goal to make it 20-16. Jacksonville took the lead for the first time in the second half on a 3-yard score from Minshew to Ryquell Armstead. Dede Westbrook added the two-point conversion to make it 24-20.
Jacksonville never looked back.
Calais Campbell returned a fumble 8 yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach. Minshew threw his third touchdown of the day with 4:42 left for the capper.
2020: Jaguars 27, Colts 20
This loss looked a lot different from the lens of Week 1 to Week 17.
The Colts brought in Philip Rivers for what turned out to be his one and only season in Indianapolis. With the new quarterback adjusting to his new surroundings, the Colts looked good on their first drive, which ended when Nyheim Hines found the endzone to make it 7-0.
After the Jags responded with their own score, the Colts moved the ball but stalled on their next two drives. One ended on a turnover on downs at the Jacksonville 3. Another ended when Rivers threw an interception while trying to connect with T.Y. Hilton.
Despite the setbacks, the Colts clawed their way to a 17-14 lead at halftime.
But the second half wasn’t kind, to say the least. Rodrigo Blankenship hit the left upright on a 30-yard field goal attempt. Rivers threw a second interception that Jacksonville turned into a field goal to make it 27-20.
Indy’s final drive ended at the Jacksonville 26 when Rivers’ pass to Hilton fell incomplete on fourth down with :44 left in the game.
It looked like the Era of Minshew Mania had truly arrived: Minshew finished 19-20 for 173 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
But the good vibes didn’t last; the Jags would lose their next 15 games and finish the season 1-15, their only win coming against the Colts at home, cementing Indy’s inexplicable problems in Jacksonville.
2021: Jaguars 26, Colts 11
The most impactful loss of this baffling streak, the Colts entered the game needing only to beat the 2-14 Jaguars to cement a postseason berth.
They were never even in this one with Carson Wentz under center. The Colts trailed 13-3 at halftime. The Jags pushed the lead to 26-3 in the fourth quarter before the Colts finally scored a touchdown with 4:26 left in the game. They added a two-point conversion to make it 26-11.
Jacksonville sacked Wentz six times. The Colts QB had two turnovers: an interception and a sack-fumble. The Jaguars turned those miscues into 10 points.
Jacksonville outgained Indy 318 yards to 233 yards in total offense. They held the edge in time of possession, 33:19 to 26:41. And they outpaced Indy’s vaunted rushing game, edging the Colts 101-94 and holding 2021 NFL rushing champ Jonathan Taylor to 77 yards without giving up one of the big plays that typified JT’s historically great season.
Coming into the game, Jacksonville had lost eight games in a row. They had a rookie quarterback in Trevor Lawrence who struggled mightily under the tutelage of Urban Meyers in the coach’s chaotic single season in Florida. And they faced a team with its playoff hopes on the line, a victory the simplest way to get into the postseason.
But “The Streak” does what “The Streak” does, and the Colts fell once again in Jacksonville. The loss sent a cataclysmic shockwave through the franchise, its outcome a lingering distaste that only soured as the 2022 season approached.
The team traded Wentz to Washington and brought in veteran Matt Ryan to stabilize the quarterback position. Owner Jim Irsay seethed.
2022: Jags 24, Colts 0
Jacksonville led 17-0 at halftime against a punchless Colts offense riddled with mistakes. Matt Ryan, constantly under pressure from a vicious Jaguars defense, endured five sacks and threw three interceptions. He ended up with just 195 yards through the air.
When the Colts reached the red zone twice in the fourth quarter, they failed to produce any points. One drive reached the Jacksonville 4 before a sack and an offensive pass interference penalty pushed the Colts back to the 22. The result: zero points.
On another fourth-quarter drive, Ryan and the Colts reached the Jacksonville 11. A 3-yard run by Jonathan Taylor made it 2nd and 7, but Ryan threw three straight incompletions to end the drive. Same result: zero points.
Their next two “drives” totaled three plays and two interceptions.
By the time the clock ticked down, the Colts had failed to score a single point and lost 24-0, dropping their record to 0-1-1 after a season-opening tie against the Houston Texans in overtime.
Trevor Lawrence went 25-30 for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked and finished with a 121.5 QB rating.
While less dramatic than some of the Colts’ other losses in Jacksonville, the ugly performance was only a harbinger of things to come in a 2022 season that saw multiple quarterback changes, the firing of head coach Frank Reich and the arrival of interim coach Jeff Saturday.
You know what happened next: Indy finished 4-12-1, hired a new coach and drafted a new quarterback.
As the Colts prepare for their next game in Jacksonville, they’ll have to rely on one of their Jaguars tormentors–one Gardner Minshew–to bring “The Streak” to an end.