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Jaguars stun Colts 27-20 in season opener

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Minshew Mania is back and maybe better than before.

Gardner Minshew threw three touchdown passes, including a 22-yarder to Keelan Cole in the fourth quarter, and Jacksonville stunned Indianapolis 27-20 in their season opener Sunday.

The Jaguars entered Week 1 as the NFL’s biggest home underdogs. Talk of tanking was most prevalent preseason topic surrounding the revamped team. Minshew ended that for now. The second-year pro completed 19 of 20 passes for 173 yards and no turnovers. He connected with DJ Chark, rookie Laviska Shenault and Cole for scores.

Philip Rivers threw two interceptions in his Indianapolis debut. The Colts had a tough opening game. They lost starting running back Marlon Mack in the first half with a right Achilles tendon injury. Mack caught a 3-yard pass at the Colts 48 midway through the second quarter and immediately went down before grabbing at his foot. The injury was initially described as an ankle injury before coach Frank Reich said after the game that it was his Achilles tendon.

Week 1 Postgame Transcript: Colts Head Coach Frank Reich

(On his national anthem stance) “Before we get started and get into about questions about the game, I want to briefly address our team’s statement during the national anthem. We will continue to bring attention to systemic racism and the injustice that our Black communities are enduring. We will continue to demonstrate our convictions to support and uplift our Black communities. This decision was made by players and coaches collectively. It was a well throughout process and supports our stance in making a meaningful change.”

(Opening statement for the game) “Obviously, (it was) a disappointing loss. We can down here and felt like we were ready to go in all three phases. We just hurt ourselves, hurt ourselves offensively with penalties. Miscues here and there. We got off to a fast start, made a lot of plays in the passing game. We a lot of plays throughout the game, but not enough to win the game. Defensively, at times, we looked good. We just struggled. In special teams, we had the missed field goal. We will learn from this. It’s just one game and it’s a hard division road game. You want to start out with a win against a division opponent on the road, that would have been big. But we learn from it, we move on. It’s one game. We learn from it. We get better and we will be ready to learn from it next week.”

(On Gardner Minshew II’s rhythm and the Colts pass defense mistakes) “He did a good job with the short-controlled passing game. They had some good play-action stuff. He’s always been a very accurate guy. You go back and look at his college tape, he is a very accurate passer. Jay Gruden did a very good job and they executed well on offense.”

(On Philip Rivers turnovers and if they are a concern) “I don’t have any concern. Obviously, the first interception, that was on me. It was a bad call. It was the wrong call. We set the formation the wrong way and it was on me. They played a two-man trap which they haven’t shown. It was not on tape and obviously we watched a lot of tape on them. Good job by them on mixing it up. I made it even harder by putting the formation in the boundary and made it easier for them to make that play. It was just bad by me. Philip made some unbelievable plays on third down, some plays to keep drives alive.  For us to score the points that we scored, I have no concerns about Philip. We have to play better on offense.”

(On if he has concerns about the running game) “We never got quick into the rhythm for maybe a variety of reasons. We were having some success early in the pass game. We got a lot of chunks in the pass game. It felt like, almost, we were moving the ball at will. It felt like we couldn’t be stopped on offense, I really felt that way. It felt like Philip was really deadly accurate and we are making a bunch of plays. Parris [Campbell] made a bunch of plays. The ball was getting spread around so we didn’t dial up a couple of runs like we sometimes do, but that will change game-to-game.”

(On if they didn’t want to put Rivers into a position where he had to win games even with the passing game working) “It’s hard to tell, it’s hard to tell. I felt like we were having success in the passing game so the run game never got into a rhythm. I have said this a million times. There are some games where we are going to throw more. We felt like we had good matchups in the secondary. We have a lot of respect for them. I felt like our receivers were running well and we were throwing it to them. We were making plays and moving the ball. I am not concerned about the run game at all.”

(On Marlon’s Mack injury and riding Nyheim Hines for a while in his absence) “On Marlon [Mack], he does have an Achilles injury. He is going to get scan tomorrow and we will update you when we know more. That is all we know right now. We have a lot of confidence in Nyheim [Hines] so just get him rolling a little bit. He was doing a nice job. We were throwing the ball a little bit more and leaving him in there for that and that was another reason. Then we got a chance to get Jonathan [Taylor] in there a little bit and get his feet wet. From what I can tell, obviously, I will have to watch the tape but he did a good job.”

(On what he liked about the fourth down play with Nyheim Hines) “We love that play. Obviously, it was ill-advised as far as the red zone runs we had in there this week. That is one we just felt really good about. It was going to be our No. 1 two-point play, we liked it in general down there. I have to see the tape to see where exactly the breakdown came. That is a run we run a fair amount with the field. We thought it was going to be a good call, but they just outplayed us on that play and out-schemed us as coaches.”

(On what he thought happened during the Jaguars winning score) “I am not sure about the miscommunication we had on the zone coverage on the go-ahead touchdown. I will have to see the tape on that one, but we had a miscue. I didn’t ask Flus [Matt Eberflus] what happened because I was thinking about the next series I was going to call. I really didn’t follow up on that yet.”

(On the thinking for on going for the fourth-and-1 early in the game) “That is the thinking is to be aggressive. I mean for what it’s worth it’s a strong go in all of the analytics. In our analytic charts, it was a strong go. I was feeling that way anyway. Like I said, I felt sometimes you have to use the chart and sometimes you have to gauge it on the play you are going to call. I felt like that play for going to work, but it didn’t. We got outcoached and outplayed on that play.”

(On how much of the mistakes they blame on themselves) “Anytime you lose there is enough blame to go-around for coaches and players. The way it works best is if we all take reasonability. As the head coach, you take the most responsibility. You have to get your team ready to play and ready to execute. We didn’t get that done today. The way we can out and went right down the field, I thought it was going to be a good day. It’s a 60-minute game and we just didn’t get that done.”

(On how the decision for him to kneel before the game came about) “It was decision that we talked through as a team. It doesn’t matter where it all started. We talked through what we were going to do and that was one of the things we talked about. We thought it was a unique to express what needs to be done. Where someone like myself, a white leader, would kneel out of a posture but like the statement said not out of defiance but out of humility to acknowledge that some work needs to be done that we can’t leave things the way they are. It takes all of us, everybody, but certainly white leaders have an opportunity to step up and make a big change as far as systemic racism is concerned. That was the decision. It was a collective team decision. We felt like it was the right statement. We all agreed the real substance, the other substance, is what we are going to do and how we are going to serve the community we live in. How we are going to serve the Black communities that we live in and really put actions to words.”

Week 1 Postgame Transcript: Colts QB Philip Rivers

(On his two interceptions in today’s game) “I think us as players, just from my time with [Head Coach] Frank [Reich], he’s always going to do his best to shield us from the blame when he can. But, shoot, ultimately the ball’s in my hand. You know, the corner just came off the outside receiver, which they had not shown and then they really didn’t show again. We didn’t allow them to do it again based on some of the different concepts we used moving forward after that play. So whether it was two-man and he trapped it or not, I don’t know. I thought the guy was out of there. He wheeled back and made a play off, [I] felt it right as I let it go. So obviously that was a big one. The one late to Parris [Campbell], I just felt Parris was going to cross his face. He was trying to cross his face. I just thought he could beat him to the spot there on that third down and then obviously the defense did a heck of a job getting the stop, three-and-out right there and getting us another shot. But I think it’s really what I said earlier in the week, it was going to come down to turnovers and penalties. I said pre-snap, but turnovers and penalties, and then just our fundamentals and technique. I mean, there was a play, really before the first fourth down we went for, having the chance to make it 14-0, that I kind of jumped my eyes off of him [Jack Doyle] and threw a short hit over there to Zach [Pascal]. We got five yards but Jack [would have] scored a touchdown. It should’ve been 14-0, so things that like where just discipline with my eyes and then the turnovers and then the penalties that stalled drives. I know we went for a couple of fourth downs, but we didn’t punt today and [had] 500 and something yards of offense. But the name of the game is to score more points than the other team. We didn’t get that done. It’s early in the season. Obviously, we have a long way to go and a lot of areas we can improve in, but I think we’ll get that done. So a lot of positives today, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough.”

(On if he was trying to be too aggressive when he threw the interceptions) “The first one, again, you can say they fooled me, but they really didn’t. It was something they had not shown, the corner falling off, two deep, and two man or anything they had done. Whether it was two man or not, there was just a carry and then he turned, not to get overly football schematic with you. So the first one I have to chalk it up to [that] they got us. You know, they got us. The second one, I think that’s probably one I pull back now, but it wasn’t thrown with the intention of us being reckless. If I had it back again, I would even throw the swing to Nyheim [Hines] or get back to the end cut to [Michael] Pittman or Zach [Pascal] on the other side, I think it was Pitt on the other side. And then we’d have to be faced with the fourth down where we could have gone for it there with whatever it was, five minutes left, or we could’ve punted. But again, those are decisions you have to make there in the heat of it and certainly those turnovers hurt. You can call us frustrated a little bit because we expected to win the game and in a lot of ways, probably should’ve, but shoot, we have a lot to be excited about. We just have to put our head down and keep working and we’re in this thing for the long haul.”

(On what played into having more total yards but coming up short points-wise) “We had penalties in the red zone. Again, on a combination to Zach [Pascal], if I throw it to Jack [Doyle], we score; it’s 14-0. And then the penalties in the red zone. Man, that’s the only thing I can point to. I mean we didn’t punt the football. We scored 20 points. We weren’t great on third down, obviously we had two or three fourth downs [where] we went for it and ended up converting. However, whether it be penalty, one we completed to Jack, one was [a] penalty, one was late to T.Y. [Hilton] there at the end. So, 27 first downs, I can go through it here, but ultimately it came down to we turned it over and we had penalties in the red zone. Twenty-seven first downs and 450 net yards, you’d usually feel pretty good about that, but if you kill yourself and turn it over, then you can be beat 27-20, whatever it ended up. I think that’s what it was.”

(On the pressure he feels) “I don’t know that I feel any [pressure]. Pressure comes with this position, but it’s also your perspective and how you look at it. I think it’s part of playing quarterback. It’s part of what makes it great. It’s part of the life lessons you learn from it. I speak of this team because a lot of these guys have been through highs and lows together, but I haven’t been through it with them. But it’s really not about me at all. I would hope that over the last 16, 17 years [that] you earn some trust and respect from afar, as far as how you’re going to compete and how you’re going to fight [un]til the end. I don’t think that that would be doubted. And then collectively, as a group, we just put our head down and go. It’s a frustrated locker room because we expected to win the game, but it’s also a very motivated and looking-forward locker room that we know what we’re capable of and it’s just a matter of keeping your head down and moving forward.”

(On what changed after getting ahead early in the game) “I don’t know that it was too different. Again, then we turned it over, then we converted some third downs and we had the missed field goal and then, due to some red zone penalties, and then we left and went right down the field and made a field goal. I don’t know that it completely changed. Again, I go back to that second drive when, speaking personally, it’s probably the play I’m most aggravated about, personally, from a personal standpoint. It’s not the two interceptions. It’s the completion that got us to third-and-2. [If] I throw it to Jack Doyle, it’s 14-0 and who knows how it ends up.”

(On what needs to happen to put more points on the board) “Not turning it over and not having penalties in the red zone. I’m starting to keep saying it, but I just don’t know what else there was. Again, I know we went for it on some fourth downs, but we didn’t punt. We didn’t punt and we only scored 20 points. I’m sitting here trying to look at it and, per play, we were rolling. But the name of the game is [to] score one more point than the other team. So again, penalties in the red area [and] turning the football over, that’ll keep you [from winning]. You can look up and see all the yards you want, but if you do that, that’s going to keep you out of the endzone and ultimately keep you from scoring enough to win.”

Week 1 Postgame Transcript: Colts RB Jonathan Taylor

(On the team’s decision to link arms and Coach Reich’s decision to kneel pregame) “As a team we decided to try and make a statement, come together and we came to the conclusion that it’d be a good idea to link arms and have Coach take a knee for us. That’s something that we came to collectively. We stand by him, we stand by the decision one hundred percent and that’s just a way that we’re going to attack the issues that are at hand in our nation in today’s world.”

(On his comfort level in becoming the top running back on the team) “I think Coach Reich has done a great job, not only through training camp, but this started before training camp, making sure that I was up to speed as much as possible. Not being able to have OTAs and not being able to have rookie mini-camp, we had to try to do as many meetings as we could and also add on top of that throughout training camp to try to get me up to speed with those vets. I know that whatever happens, and I don’t know the full status yet, but I know that Marlon [Mack]… [mic cuts off] Adding on throughout training camp we also had to kick it into extra gear in order to get me up to speed with vets. Like I said I don’t know the full status on Marlon but I know he’s going to be in not only my ear but the rest of the backs’ ear until he gets back – whatever his status is – in order to make sure we can uphold his part and make sure that the running back group is not a drop-off.”

(On what he thought was going on with the running game today) “Those guys did a good job at stopping up in the A gaps, forcing us out onto the perimeter and having us create those one-on-ones that we had to come up and try to make sure that we win those one-on-one battles when we’re out there on the edge. We have to make sure that we do a better job trying to find our fit in those A gaps when teams are crashing hard in the A gap so just something that we’ve got to continue to get better at, work on, tighten up, and something we’re going to do collectively in order to make sure that next week we’re able to build upon that.”

(On how eager he was to make his debut and if it was what he expected) “You always do, and I take this saying from college: you don’t count the reps, you make the reps count. So whenever, if they ever called my number, I was determined to make sure I was able to go in and was ready and not be able to be a drop-off. When I did get in and I felt like I was prepared – I mentioned it earlier, Coach Reich did a tremendous job as far as making sure everything was one hundred percent crystal clear as far as throughout meetings, throughout training camps and up until the game to make sure that I fully understood the game plan and everything that was supposed to be going on and then it was just about execution. At this level, I found out early and it’s the small little details that sets you apart.”

(On his first test stepping up to replace Marlon Mack) “Yeah, I think I definitely have grown and I think it did go well. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more looks, but this is my first time so I’m sure there’s going to be some looks that I haven’t seen before, some new looks, and it’s just going to be about staying in the books, staying in our protections and making sure that I’m one hundred percent. As long as everyone’s on the same page with the same call, we should be good to go.”

(On if he had a chance to talk to Mack) “I didn’t get a chance to see him at halftime and I had to come in here to speak with you guys, so I’ve got to check with him and see how he’s feeling, where his mind’s at. I’m sure he’s going to have some words for me. I think the biggest thing for me is take all the information, all the words from him. I’m sure he’s going to have some things, some knowledge to share with me and I got to make sure I’m responding and soaking it all in.”