LONDON - The Jaguars (1-3) put together the team's best first half effort of the season against the Indianapolis Colts and clinched a 30-27 win in the squad's fourth trip to London on Sunday.
Quarterback Blake Bortles led the team to three scores in the first half at Wembley Stadium, completing 8-of-13 passes for 75 passing yards, 36 rushing yards and two total touchdowns. Bortles' ability to extend plays with his legs kept the Jaguars in full control of the first two quarters and put the Colts in a 17-6 hole headed into halftime.
Field goals paced the Jaguars in the second half until a 42-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to wide receiver Allen Hurns put Jacksonville on top for good.
The Colts came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring at will with a 21-point output in the final 15 minutes. However, the late-game surge wasn't enough to top the Jaguars.
Bortles finished 19-of-33 for 207 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. He also added 36 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Bortles received help from wide receiver Allen Robinson who caught five passes for 55 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Also, the Jaguars running game finally got going as T.J. Yeldon ran for 68 yards on 13 carries. He was joined by Chris Ivory, who produced 29 rushing yards on eight attempts.
The Colts struggled mightily on both sides of the ball until the fourth quarter and the Jaguars took advantage. Andrew Luck was sacked multiple times and had a costly interception off a batted ball early in the game. Luck finished 26-of-41 for 232 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and an interception in his first NFL game in London.
The win was the first of the Jaguars season.
The Jaguars won the toss and elected to defer.
The choice was a wise one as the Jaguars defense forced a quick three and out to start the game. Following a punt by Pat McAfee, the Jaguars offense also went three and out.
During the Colts' second offensive opportunity, Indianapolis benefited from a facemask penalty on Jaguars defensive end Tyson Alualu. However, on a third down play, Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler batted up an Andrew Luck pass and rookie lineman Yannick Ngakoue made a play on the ball. The defensive end then returned the ball to the Colts 39-yard line.
The Jaguars offense took advantage of the big play on defense and produced some points. Blake Bortles led a five-play, 24-yard drive that ended in a three-yard touchdown connection between the quarterback and wide receiver Allen Robinson. The drive was aided by a huge 15-yard run by running back T.J. Yeldon on second and 14. Following a successful extra point attempt by kicker Jason Myers, the Jaguars led 7-0 with 8:23 remaining in the first quarter.
Following the Jaguars touchdown, Luck offered a rebuttal for his early mistake. The quarterback led a 12-play, 29-yard drive in which he willed his team down the field. However, the Colts were only able to produce a 53-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. The Jaguars remained in the lead, 7-3, with 1:50 remaining in the first quarter.
With the Colts answering the Jaguars score, Jacksonville's offense took over for a third time. However, the unit couldn't repeat its success from the previous drive. A holding penalty on tight end Neal Sterling buried the Jaguars deep in their own territory. The Jaguars were unable to make up for the mistake and went three and out.
The Colts went back on the attack after the strong stance by their defense. Despite a big sack by Ngakoue on Luck during the drive, the Colts were able to produce points. A holding penalty on Jaguars cornerback Davon House helped Indianapolis drive down the field.
A false start penalty on Colts tight end Dwayne Allen moved Indianapolis from a third and 1 to a third and 6. A pass to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett was dropped and the Colts were forced to attempt a 50-yard field goal. Vinatieri nailed the kick and the Jaguars lead was cut to one point with 8:53 remaining in the first half.
On the Jaguars next possession, Bortles used his feet to create some momentum for his offense. He gained 22 yards and a touchdown on four runs. He also hit Robinson for a 17-yard gain that put the Jaguars in Colts territory. Another Robinson catch was wiped out, as a Colts defender was charged with unnecessary roughness, but the wide receiver taunted Indianapolis after the play. Both penalties cleared a first down gain.
A pass interference call on Colts defensive back Patrick Robinson put the Jaguars at the one-yard line. Bortles again called his own number and ran for the short-yardage score. The extra point attempt by Myers was good and the Jaguars led 14-6 with 4:09 remaining in the first half.
The Jaguars lost left guard Luke Joeckel and tight end Marcedes Lewis to injury on the scoring drive. Joeckel suffered a knee injury and Lewis injured his hip a few plays later.
After the scoring drive, Jacksonville's defense was able to keep the momentum going, as the unit forced the Colts offense off the field quickly. The Jaguars offense then took over and quickly marched down into the redzone. Bortles hit Robinson and fellow wide receiver Marqise Lee to put the offense in position to score. The eight-play, 75-yard drive ended with a 22-yard field goal made by Myers. The Jaguars took a 17-6 lead into halftime.
The Jaguars received the ball to start the second half and continued moving the ball. A mix of run and pass quickly put the Jaguars in the redzone. Despite multiple injuries to the offense, Jacksonville was able to drive into Indianapolis territory for a fourth time. A 46-yard field goal made by Myers put the Jaguars up 20-6 with 11:50 left in the third quarter.
The Colts were unable to answer the Jaguars field goal with positive play. A sack for a big loss by linebacker Paul Posluszny on Luck put the Colts deep in their own territory on fourth down. The play was originally ruled a completed pass to tight end Jack Doyle, but Luck's left knee was down before the ball was thrown. The Jaguars challenged the play and won the decision.
The Jaguars took over and a 13-yard run by Yeldon opened things up for Jacksonville. An unnecessary roughness penalty by the Colts on a sack gave the Jaguars more room to work with. The Jaguars used the ground game and short-yard yardage passing to move the ball. On a fourth and three play, Bortles hit Yeldon for a four-yard gain. However, the Jaguars would eventually settle for a 49-yard field goal from Myers. The successful attempt put the Jaguars up 23-6 with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter.
The Colts offense finally showed signs of life on the next possession. Luck led his unit on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a one-yard Frank Gore run for a touchdown. Following an extra point by the Colts, the Jaguars led 23-13 with 14:48 left in the game.
Following a stalled drive from the Jaguars offense, the Colts went back on the hunt for points. Luck led his offense on another touchdown-scoring drive. The drive was culminated by a two-yard touchdown pass from Luck to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton to cut the Jaguars' lead again. Following an extra point, the Colts trailed 23-20 with 7:06 remaining in the game.
The Jaguars attempted to close strong with another touchdown drive. Bortles hit wide receiver Allen Hurns on a short pass and the third-year player spun off a defender and took the ball to the endzone for a 42-yard score. After an extra point, the Jaguars went up 30-20 with 5:03 remaining in the game.
The Colts then cut it close again with a big play for a touchdown. On third and 10, Luck hit Dorsett for a 64-yard touchdown strike. The extra point following the score cut the Jaguars' lead to three points with 3:03 remaining in the game.
Indianapolis carried the momentum over to the next Jaguars possession as the Colts defense held Jacksonville to a three and out. With 2:37 remaining in the game, the Colts took over on offense with a chance to win the game. However, the final drive eventually stalled and the Jaguars clinched the 30-27 victory.
Player of the Game
After three rough games to start the season, Blake Bortles was the catalyst for the Jaguars victory. The fourth time was the charm, as Bortles produced 243 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns. It was a big day for the third-year quarterback who got the ball to several different weapons. Bortles hit eight different receivers on the day.
Play of the Game
Early in the first quarter, the Jaguars defense produced a big turnover. On the Colts' second offensive possession, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck had a pass batted up in the air. Rookie defensive end Yannick Ngakoue caught the stray ball and returned the interception to the Colts' 39-yard line. The play set up the Jaguars' first scoring drive.
The Jaguars were without defensive end Jared Odrick (tricep), tight end Julius Thomas (elbow), linebacker Dan Skuta (hip) and tight end Ben Koyack (knee) due to injury. Tight end Marcedes Lewis (hip) and left guard Luke Joeckel (knee) left the game due to injury in second quarter. Joeckel did not return to the game.
The Colts were missing wide receiver Donte Moncrief (shoulder), cornerback Darius Butler (hamstring) and center Jonotthan Harrison (illness) due to various ailments.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.