JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Trevor Lawrence walked through the locker room and to the postgame podium without a limp or anything on his injured left knee.
It was the latest positive sign for a franchise that suddenly looks like a legit contender in the AFC.
Lawrence threw for two touchdowns before leaving late, Travis Etienne ran for a pair of scores and the Jacksonville Jaguars beat Indianapolis 37-20 on Sunday for their third consecutive victory. It was the Colts’ ninth straight road loss in the series.
Coming off back-to-back victories overseas, the Jaguars (4-2) spent all week hoping to avoid a “London hangover.” They responded with their most lopsided victory of the season.
Lawrence's injury dampened the celebration, especially with a Thursday night game at New Orleans looming, but the Jaguars feel like they now know who they are and how to win in 2023.
“I think it’s a glimpse of what we can be,” coach Doug Pederson said. “There are still some areas that we have to clean up, obviously. The team really in these last three weeks kind of figured some things out, figured out who we are as a football team. That’s exciting to see. They really embraced that.”
Pederson defended the play call that ended with Lawrence getting sacked and injured. Lawrence twisted his knee with 3:10 remaining and Jacksonville up 14 points, raising questions about whether he should have been on the field or why he was passing on third down in field-goal range.
Lawrence rolled left and was sacked by Samson Ebukam for a 17-yard loss. He was slow to get up.
“Look, is there a little bit of risk there to run your quarterback? Yes,” Pederson said. “But at the same time, the reward is you get the first down, and you stay on the field and ice the game in those situations. Definitely wouldn’t change the scenario or the situation. We can coach that a little bit better and ask him maybe to go down a little bit sooner.”
Lawrence got checked out on the sideline and stayed on the field for postgame handshakes and interviews.
“I'm feeling OK," he said. "Going to get it checked out tonight and see what's going on. I feel pretty good, walking around all right. Can't really say much now. I want to make sure everything checks out.”
The Jaguars pretty much had the victory in hand by the third quarter when Lawrence connected with rookie tight end Brenton Strange for a 10-yard strike and put Jacksonville ahead 31-6.
The Colts (3-3) had hoped to end a head-scratching road skid against Jacksonville that started in 2015. But Gardner Minshew, getting the start in place of injured rookie Anthony Richardson, turned the ball over four times in his return to Jacksonville.
“It's definitely tough to come back here and play like that,” said Minshew, a sixth-round draft pick by the Jags in 2019.
Minshew fumbled once and threw three interceptions. He completed 33 of 55 passes for 329 yards, with a touchdown to Josh Downs. All of the INTs were thrown almost directly at defenders, surely reminding Jaguars fans of his limitations that showed up while losing his final seven starts in 2020.
Jacksonville now leads the NFL with 15 takeaways, with Josh Allen forcing the early fumble and Andre Cisco, Rayshawn Jenkins and Darious Williams getting picks.
“We got ourselves in a hole there with the turnovers,” Indy coach Shane Steichen said. “We got to do better there. It starts with myself, doing a better job there. ... I’ve got to be better.”
Jonathan Taylor ran eight times for 19 yards, a slightly increased workload from his season debut a week earlier. He also caught five passes for 46 yards.
Still, Zack Moss scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter and finished with similar numbers.
Richardson made the trip to Jacksonville, the NFL venue closest to his hometown in Gainesville, and watched from the sideline while wearing a sling on his right arm and a headset to listen to plays. Richardson suffered a sprained AC joint last week against Tennessee.
Colts receiver Alex Pierce (left knee) was ruled out late. Rookie cornerback JuJu Brents left briefly with a cut on his nose in the third quarter. He was flagged for pass interference on his first play back in the game.
Jaguars CB Tyson Campbell (right hamstring) and RG Brandon Scherff (left ankle) were injured in the second quarter and did not return.
Colts: Host Cleveland next Sunday.
Jaguars: Play at New Orleans on Thursday night. Jacksonville has lost all three games in the Big Easy.
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