Jacksonville, FL – With payback on its mind, Indianapolis continued one of the NFL's most surprising stories.
Andrew Luck threw for 227 yards and ran for two scores as the Colts avenged a Week 3 loss to Jacksonville with a 27-10 thumping on Thursday night.
The Colts (6-3) used their 22-17 home loss to the Jaguars in Week 3 as fuel to start fast and cruise throughout most of the second half. Indianapolis is 5-1 since head coach Chuck Pagano left the team to go through treatment for leukemia.
"We've got a lot of good kids in this locker room," said Indianapolis interim head coach Bruce Arians. "Everyone played their tails off tonight. It wasn't one of our better efforts, but they played the entire time and made some great plays."
With Luck under center, the Colts have already doubled their win total from during Peyton Manning's rookie season. Luck's streak of four straight 300-yard passing games did come to an end, but he used his legs effectively in the red zone and shook off two turnovers to guide the Colts to their first 4-game winning streak since the end of the 2010 season.
Vick Ballard and Donald Brown combined for 90 yards rushing and the Colts managed a collective 138 yards on the ground. Luck completed 18-of-26 passes, including eight for 96 yards to favorite target Reggie Wayne. Darius Butler finished with two interceptions, including one for a touchdown, in the victory.
Blaine Gabbert completed 18-of-31 passes for 209 yards and an interception before leaving early in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. Chad Henne lit a fire under the Jaguars (1-8), completing 10-of-16 passes for 121 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Cecil Shorts caught that score along with five other passes for 105 total yards.
"We were hoping to come out and not have the things happen that have been happening to us," said Jacksonville head coach Mike Mularkey. "But they happened immediately and it changed the momentum. Sucked the air right out of us and it just proceeded from there."
Indianapolis took its second possession 44 yards into scoring territory, but Luck was sacked on third down, and the visitors settled for Adam Vinatieri's 31-yard boot.
The Jaguars enginerred their own march, but it also stalled. Josh Scobee was not as accurate as his counterpart, missing wide right from 44 yards out.
Those two drives were a microcosm for the night.
Indianapolis took advantage of the good field position, marching 62 yards in eight plays to take a 10-0 lead. Luck was intercepted on the first play, but the miscue was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty. Luck's 21-yard toss to Wayne set the Colts up inside the 10-yard line, and the mobile signal- caller cemented the scoring drive with a 5-yard jaunt into the end zone.
Jacksonville again ventured into Colts territory, but Laurent Robinson fumbled, resulting in just Indianapolis' fourth takeaway of the campaign. The Colts wasted little time, needing just seven plays to reach the end zone again. The big play was a 44-yard pitch-and-catch down the seam to Donnie Avery, and Luck finished off the 61-yard drive by barely reaching over the pylon from 1-yard out on fourth down.
The Jaguars finally got on the scoreboard late in the half with Scobee's 40- yard boot. Jacksonville didn't covert any of their five third-down chances and mustered just 146 total yards.
The Colts, a turnover-starved outfit this season, got another takeaway in the beginning moments of the third quarter. Butler jumped a hitch route, picked it off in stride and strolled 11 yards into the end zone for a 3-touchdown lead.
Henne was in the saddle during Jacksonville's only touchdown drive of the game in the fourth quarter, marching the home team to the end zone with a 4-yard, back-shoulder toss to Shorts. He couldn't get the Jags any closer, and Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal with just over 3 1/2 minutes left capped the scoring.
Avery caught four passes for 65 yards ... Wayne was targeted 11 times, but that wasn't a game high. Shorts was targeted 13 times and Robinson was thrown to 15 times, catching nine for 77 yards ... Rashad Jennings led Jacksonville with just 27 yards rushing on 11 carries ... The Colts entered the game with just three takeaways through eight games, tying the fewest in league history. They collected three more on Thursday.