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No clowning around here: Jaguars dismantle Colts, 26-11

Despite all the off-the-field shenanigans, Jaguars salvage the season finale and finish 3-14.
Credit: AP
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, left, and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, right, celebrate after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

As many predicted pre-game: it was a three-ring circus at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday.

In one ring, you had Trevor Lawrence's break-out game. The No. 1 overall pick finished 23-32 for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He looked every bit the part of "ringmaster."

In another, you had a Jaguars defense that absolutely suffocated Carson Wentz and the Colts' offense. Wentz was held to 185 yards and sacked five times. 

And yes, in the third ring, you had hundreds of Jaguars fans decked-out in clown costumes, cheering on their hometown squad while also protesting reports that owner Shad Khan will retain general manager Trent Baalke.

Just as everyone predicted. 

The Jaguars (3-14) put on their best show of the season, beating their AFC South rivals 26-11 and eliminating the Colts (9-8) from the playoffs. The Colts have not won in Jacksonville since 2014. The win also snaps Jacksonville's seven-game losing skid.

The Jaguars got right to it on offense. Lawrence was 7-for-7 on a 12 play, 75-yard opening drive that culminated with a Laquon Treadwell touchdown. The Jaguars tacked on three, Matthew Wright field goals on three of the next four drives, heading into the half with a 16-3 lead. After a Damien Wilson interception gave the Jaguars terrific field position, Lawrence and the offense cashed-in on third-down with an acrobatic, Marvin Jones touchdown -- that would've made any circus performer jealous. 

With starting running back James Robinson out for the year, the Jaguars back-up running backs stepped up. Former fifth-round pick Ryquell Armstead made a statement in his return to TIAA Bank Field, carrying the ball nine times for 52 yards. Dare Ogunbowale added 30 yards on 11 carries. 

A big reason the Jaguars' offense was finally able to come alive was the re-emergence of their defense. Ranked dead-last in the league in takeaways, the Jaguars won the turnover margin 2-0 Sunday. Wilson's interception and a DaVon Hamilton fumble recovery (which Wilson forced) officially stood, but they could've had even more, with Daniel Thomas' interception ruled an incompletion and two, additional Colts fumbles that were recovered. Josh Allen led the way with two sacks, while Dawuane Smoot, Malcolm Brown, and Adam Gotsis each added a sack. Tyson Campbell led all defenders with eight tackles. Even more impressively: the Jaguars held the NFL's leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor, to 77 yards on 15 carries. 

Better yet? With Detroit's win over the Packers, the Jaguars will still pick No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. It is the second straight season they will pick first overall. 

After the circus that was the past week -- let alone the past season and the off-season that lies ahead -- Jacksonville will celebrate this one, undoubtedly the greatest spectacle of their 2021-2022 season.