Don’t fret, Indianapolis Colts fans.
Your favorite team didn’t make a big deal out of taking care of business Sunday in a 23-3 defensive dismissal of the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The way inside linebackers D’Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman spoke afterward, the defense did what it was supposed to do. And against an outmanned opponent (my words).
They didn’t need to be reminded it’s only been one week since New England came into this same stadium and turned the Colts into mush. And Jackson’s unsettling recollections go back farther than that.
“There were times (before) when we played lights out and then Ben Roethlisberger is having a career day,” Jackson said of the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback completing 40-of-49 passes for 522 yards and six touchdowns in a 51-34 eye opener over the Colts on Oct. 26 at Heinz Field.
The Colts thought they were ready for “Big Ben.” They had won five in a row. The defense had just blanked AFC North leader Cincinnati 27-0 in Indianapolis.
Then, uh, the mood suddenly became real quiet.
The latest Patriots game was the same thing. It was the Colts’ best opportunity yet to stake a claim for AFC supremacy. But a 42-20 thud at home had some running back named Jonas Gray trending on social media after he ran for a career-high 201 yards and four touchdowns.
Those wounds haven’t healed. They might end up being scars. And if these Colts (7-4) are going to amount to anything come January, it’s imperative that leaders such as Jackson and Freeman remind teammates to never forget those ugly, unmistakable blemishes.
The only loud talk in the Colts’ locker room after taming the Jaguars for their 11th consecutive AFC South Division conquest was Jackson’s insistence that every player had best live and learn. And do it quickly.
How quickly? How about as soon as they headed for home.
“In every game we’ve played this year, no guy in this locker room should feel like we’re entitled to win anything,” Jackson said. “With the games we’ve played, the games we’ve won, the games we’ve lost, in my opinion, I’m already past this win. I’m ready to get my iPad loaded up so I can watch Washington. From the time we leave this locker room, get on Washington.”
Jackson expects no less than the same kind of defensive effort against RGIII.
“We’ve had enough bumps in the road to know if we have a good game, we have to do even more the next week to make sure we repeat what we left out on that field,” said Jackson, who had a game-high 13 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery. “Yeah, it was great to get a win. It was great to not give up a touchdown, especially not in the red zone, where our defense can be a lot better in. That was a good sign, moving forward. We’ve got to keep moving forward.
Freeman didn’t hesitate to agree. How soon would he move on?
“Fast,” he said. “We’re going to get over this one. This was one of those games where we had to come out, make our presence felt and I think we did that. But we’ve got another great team coming in next week, regardless of what their record says. So move onto the next one, man.”
Freeman had nine tackles and half a sack, which gave him a chance to continue the team’s ongoing series of sack-celebration tributes to Colts all-time sack leader Robert Mathis. Jackson, Cory Redding and Bjoern Werner have all swept a leg with a pronounced kick after sacks.
“It was my first Mathis,” Freeman said. “First-ballot Hall of Famer.”
Beyond that, Sunday is already history.
Lest anyone forget, recent history against far better opposition has been unkind.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.