|National Football League|
Jaguars stun Colts with 80-yard TD for 22-17 win
By MICHAEL MAROT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts and their fans were ready to celebrate Sunday. Blaine Gabbert ruined those plans with one long play.
Just moments after the Colts had taken a late lead on an Adam Vinatieri field goal, the Jacksonville quarterback hooked up with Cecil Shorts III on an 80-yard TD pass to beat the Colts 22-17 - the first fourth-quarter comeback of Gabbert's NFL career and the first win for Mike Mularkey as Jags coach.
"We got a good look. We checked to a play where we knew we could get the ball down the field," Gabbert said. "It's nice to feel a little success on Sunday."
Perhaps no team needed a win Sunday worse than the Jags (1-2), who managed only 117 yards in total offense a week earlier and appeared in grave danger of dropping to 0-3 when Vinatieri made that 37-yard field goal with 56 seconds to go.
Fans at Lucas Oil Stadium responded by standing and roaring, clearly expecting the confetti to shoot into the crowd at the final gun.
But the Colts' defense couldn't protect their 17-16 lead for even one play.
Instead, Shorts ran a short crossing route right in front of one of his teammates, and when Colts backup safety Sergio Brown stepped up to cover the speedster, Gabbert pounced on the mistake, hitting Shorts in stride and without a single defender behind him. All Shorts had to do was sprint to the end zone and avoid a potential game-saving tackle by Cassius Vaughn as he dived in for the touchdown.
The crowd sat in stunned silence as a replay review confirmed the call on the field.
It still wasn't over.
Andrew Luck got the ball back at his own 37 with 35 seconds to go and after a 36-yard completion, the Colts were at the Jags' 26. His first chance to win the game was thwarted when Luck got hit just as he started to throw and the ball fluttered incomplete. On the final play, he threw the ball to Reggie Wayne in the end zone but that was broken up by cornerback Aaron Ross, ending one of the more bizarre games ever played at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Just a typical NFL finish: up and down, up and down, up and down emotionally," Mularkey said.
And in shocking fashion.
The Jags had relied almost exclusively on Maurice Jones-Drew to dig them out from a 14-3 halftime deficit, and Gabbert managed to throw only three completions in the second half before jogging onto the field for that final play.
Somehow, though, Gabbert took a confident message into the huddle.
"I told the guys going out onto the field, `We're going to win. Right here, right now,'" Gabbert said.
He and Shorts made sure of it.
For the Colts, it was a stunning turnabout.
After Vinatieri missed a 36-yarder wide left with 4:40 to go, the defense forced a punt to put the ball back in Luck's hands for what they expected to be a final time. A 39-yard pass play to Donald Brown moved the ball into field goal range and after three runs and three Jacksonville timeouts, Vinatieri made the 37-yarder that gave Indy the lead.
"I think that was the absolute perfect thing to do (run the ball) at the time," Luck said. "We almost squeaked out there at the end for a touchdown."
But 45 seconds proved too much for Gabbert and the Jags.
When the Colts lined up, Gabbert thought back to a play that had worked with Kevin Elliott earlier in the game, and with the Colts' secondary depleted by injuries, Gabbert checked off to the play he thought may work. Gabbert was 10 of 21 for 155 yards with only one TD pass - the biggest play of the game.
"He found the window, made the right read and threw a heck of a ball," Shorts said. "He put that ball exactly where it needed to be. It kind of snuck up on me. He put a little mustard on it."
The bizarre finish overshadowed another big day for Jones-Drew, who has always played well against the Colts. He ran 28 times for 177 yards and scored on a 59-yard TD run on Jacksonville's first offensive play of the second half. Eight of Jones-Drew's 26 career 100-yard games have come against the Colts and his first rushing TD of the season broke Fred Taylor's franchise record. Jones-Drew now has 63 career rushing scores.
"That was our main focus coming into the game, to stop the run," Colts safety Antoine Bethea said. "We definitely didn't do that."
Luck finished 22 of 46 for 313 yards with two scores and left with plenty to ponder heading into the Colts' bye week.
"I point the finger at myself, some bad decisions," he said. "I think the big finger should be pointed at me. I'm sure everybody feels like they have something to clean up."
NOTES: The Jaguars played without three starters - left guard Eben Britton (ankle), right tackle Cam Bradfield (ankle), linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) - and lost running back Montell Owens and receiver Laurent Robinson with concussions during the game. Cornerback Derek Cox did return to the field Sunday but spent much of the fourth quarter riding a stationary bike. ... Edgerrin James became the fifth player inducted into the Colts' Ring of Honor at halftime. ... The Colts lost center Samson Satele for the second straight game with a knee injury and receiver Austin Collie with a right knee injury that will require an MRI.
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Updated September 24, 2012