The first-ever Week 18 in the NFL has no shortage of drama. As various teams looked to wrap up the 2021 regular season and solidify their playoff status, the Indianapolis Colts were in a pretty straightforward scenario: beat the Jaguars and you’ve punched your postseason ticket. Given that the Jags have been one of the worst teams throughout the season and came into their finale with a 2-14 record, that seemed to be pretty doable, right?
Well, not quite. Jacksonville was able to pull off the upset by beating Indy, 26-11.
A key piece to this upset for the Colts falls on the shoulders of quarterback Carson Wentz, who was not at all sharp in this critical loss. Wentz — who was sacked six times — completed just 58.6% of his passes on the day as the offense was only able to manage a field goal in its three first-half drives. The other two possessions consisted of a turnover on downs and a three-and-out. As the offense stalled out, the Jaguars scored points on three of their four first-half possessions to take a double-digit lead into the break.
Wentz then came out in the second half and committed two turnovers that really sent the team down the drain. The first was a strip-sack fumble on the opening possession of the third quarter. Jaguars linebacker Damien Wilson was able to strip-sack Wentz on a first-and-10 opportunity from the Colts 28-yard-line, and Jacksonville answered that turnover with a field goal on the ensuing possession.
After a six-play drive that resulted in a punt following that turnover, Wentz coughed the ball up again as he threw an interception on the first play of the drive. Wilson was on the receiving end of that turnover as well, and the Jaguars offense proceeded to march 45 yards down the field for a touchdown to put them up by 20 points with just over three minutes left to play in the third quarter.
After that swing, the Colts tried and failed on back-to-back fourth-down attempts on their following two possessions, which effectively eliminated any chance of a comeback. The offense was finally able to get into the end zone on its last drive of the game, but that score was ultimately inconsequential. While this loss to the Jaguars is jarring for the Colts, it may not be as surprising as you think. Indy has not won in Jacksonville since 2014.
With this loss and the Steelers’ overtime win over the Ravens, the Colts are now eliminated from playoff contention.