INDIANAPOLIS – Blaine Gabbert saw the play perfectly Sunday in Indianapolis.
The hard part was putting the ball in the right spot.
Jacksonville’s second-year quarterback threw a perfect strike to Cecil Shorts III, who sprinted to the end zone for an 80-yard score with 45 seconds to go to give the Jags a stunning 22-17 victory and beat No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck at his own comeback game.
I told the guys going out onto the field, We’re going to win. Right here, right now,’ Gabbert said. We happened to get the right look for the play that was called. We just went with it.
Gabbert made sure the play worked.
To everyone, except perhaps Gabbert, it was a shocking turnabout for a team that had a franchise-low 117 total yards last week and seemed destined for a third straight loss just seconds earlier when Adam Vinatieri made a 37-yard field goal to give the Colts a 17-16 lead with 56 seconds to go.
And after relying almost exclusively on Maurice Jones-Drew to wipe out a 14-3 halftime deficit, and after completing only three passes in the final two quarters, Gabbert jogged onto the field never doubting himself or his teammates.
Instead, Gabbert made the play of the day by throwing his only scoring pass of the game, picking up his first fourth-quarter comeback as a pro and giving coach Mike Mularkey his first win with the Jags (1-2).
God’s play, 32-power, Jones-Drew said. When you don’t get a (defensive) touch, you’ve got to make the other team pay.
It looked simple.
Shorts ran a 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.
He hit Shorts in stride and without a single Colts 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.
This one’s going to sit in the pit of their stomachs for quite some time, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, referring to his players. Obviously, we’re going to have to get over it and move on and get better from here.
There was plenty of blame to go around.
Indianapolis (1-2) struggled offensively for most of the second half.
Luck had his troubles, too, throwing an interception right into the hands of Jags linebacker Paul Posluszny and was nearly picked off by Posluszny again in the fourth quarter.
The defense blew a 14-3 halftime lead, giving up a 59-yard TD run to Jones-Drew on Jacksonville’s first offensive play of the second half, and it couldn’t preserve the 16-14 lead for a single play.
Even Vinatieri, the best clutch kicker in NFL history, wound up missing a potential go-ahead 36-yard field goal to the left with 4:40 to go.
The combination forced Luck to rally the Colts twice, falling short the second time when Aaron Ross broke up a 26-yard pass intended for Reggie Wayne in the end zone on the game’s final play.