Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (12) drops back to pass against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter on October 28 at the Coliseum Oakland. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
INDIANAPOLIS -- A day after the Colts won their third consecutive game, first-year coach Frank Reich focused first on positives.
The reality is the Colts (4-5) have a lot to improve on as they prepare for a visit from the Tennessee Titans (5-4) in another AFC South Division game Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
While the Colts are coming off a 29-26 home win over Jacksonville, the defending division champs, they did so without scoring a point in the second half. It's the first time that's happened for the franchise since Jim Harbaugh was quarterback against Bubby Brister and the New York Jets in 1995, according to Pro Football Reference.
Reich conceded the Colts hurt themselves with "self-inflicted wounds" on their four second-half possessions, in which they gained just two first downs. Were it not for a shaky defense delivering a fumble recovery after the Jaguars drove into scoring position with 1:30 remaining, the Colts might not be so upbeat a day later.
"This business can humble you in a second," Reich said. "The moment that we think that we've got it wired and we can just roll it out there and throw 30 points on anybody that we want, that's the moment we'll get embarrassed. We just have to keep doing it -- stay committed to the process.
"It really all starts with Andrew (Luck's) leadership, (with) the way he prepares. It's hard for me to totally do justice to the way that he prepares. It's not a one-man show by any stretch of the imagination, but he does such a phenomenal job the whole week of getting mastery over the game plan. Then he's the leader out on the field," Reich said.
"Secondly, obviously up front with the way those guys are playing up front. So yeah, I think right now we have some good momentum there, but we need to keep building off of that and not even for a second rest on anything that we have done."
Luck wasn't sacked for a fourth consecutive game, the longest clean streak for any NFL passer since Eli Manning in five games in 2010, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.
So as much as the three-time Pro Bowl passer is on pace to put up career numbers in almost all key categories, his offensive line has been the biggest difference. He's gotten the best protection of his seven-year career.
That's how the Colts were able to score 29 first-half points on a Jaguars defense that ranked No. 1 against the pass and No. 2 in fewest total yards allowed.
But that's also why Reich and Luck continue to set the bar high and know that going point-less in the second half is unacceptable.
"We know we can work on being sharper," Luck said Sunday. "It's great that we won. It's sort of like a mixed bag of emotions. A win, excited, but also a little bit angry on the mistakes I know that I felt like I made and that our offense made. But it is what it is. We get to come back and work. I think we have another division game next weekend and that's fun. It's exciting."
While the 24th-ranked defense that is 26th in points allowed failed to generate enough of a pass rush -- not registering a sack for a second consecutive game -- Reich liked how the unit made Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette earn hard yards. The second-year pro, in his first game since Week 4, scored touchdowns on a rush and a reception, but he averaged just 2.2 yards per carry.
"But to hold (the Jaguars) to 2.7 yards a carry, I think the importance of that cannot be understated," Reich said. "It was a real big emphasis for us. In meetings and all week long it was 'Stop the run, stop the run, stop the run.' So, I just think the defense did a great job there."
--TE Eric Ebron became just the second tight end in NFL history to have two touchdown receptions and a scoring run in the same game. The other, New England's Rob Gronkowski, did it against the Colts in 2011. Ebron is the first Colts player to score three TDs in the first half of a game since Dwayne Allen against the New York Jets in 2016.
--QB Andrew Luck has completed 60 of 83 passes (72.3 percent) for 680 yards with 10 TDs and one interception (131.0 passer rating) over his past three games. It's the first time in his career that he's had three consecutive games with a passer rating over 100 (131.5 Buffalo, 125.6 Oakland, 123.5 Jacksonville). Luck has thrown a TD pass in 32 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the league and eighth overall on the career list.
--CB Kenny Moore II had six solo tackles, one tackle for loss and two passes defended.
--LB Darius Leonard had eight tackles including one for a loss to boost his NFL-leading tackle total to 96, seven more than the next player. And that's despite missing one game due to injury.
--DE Tyquan Lewis started in his NFL debut and played 54 snaps with three tackles and one quarterback hit. The second-round pick had missed almost all of preseason and the first eight games with a toe injury.