Thank you, Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Indianapolis Colts arrived in the Sunshine State in need of a confidence boost. The Jaguars obliged in a Sunday afternoon matchup of previously winless AFC South Division teams that was quickly decided by halftime.
Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes as the Colts took a 30-0 lead at the break and cruised to a 44-17 victory over the hapless Jaguars at EverBank Field.
The visitors scored on each of their six first-half possessions and didn’t allow the Jaguars to gain a first down until their fourth offensive series.
After relying more on the ground game in a Week 2 home loss against Philadelphia, the Colts let Luck throw the ball early. He tossed scoring strikes to running back Ahmad Bradshaw, tight end Dwayne Allen and tight end Coby Fleener before the break.
Watching on television, suspended/injured Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis tweeted, “30-0 half……. #NotBad.”
Luck completed 22-of-27 passes for 244 yards — in the first half — and that included Fleener dropping two passes, one that should have been a touchdown.
By the time the Colts’ third-year quarterback took a seat in the fourth quarter, he had completed 31-of-39 passes for 370 yards and a career-high-tying fourth TD, this one to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Nine different Colts caught at least two passes.
A much-maligned Colts defense that had allowed 61 points in two losses, didn’t allow a Jaguars first down until the second quarter after Jacksonville had gone three-and-out three times. A Colts pass rush that entered with one sack got two against quarterback Chad Henne, who was benched in favor of rookie Blake Bortles to start the second half.
The Jaguars have been outscored 119-44 in three lopsided losses.
Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return. At the time of his departure, he led the team with five catches for 80 yards.
That enabled the Colts to spread the ball around even more. Rookie pass catcher Donte Moncrief, a third-round pick out of Mississippi, had four catches for 55 yards.
The Colts (1-2) return to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday to host AFC South rival Tennessee (1-2) at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Jaguars (0-3) travel to San Diego (2-1).
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.