INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts lost 22-17 to the Jacksonville Jaguars on a busted defensive play with 45 seconds remaining. They might not have been in that position had coach Chuck Pagano been a little more aggressive the previous series.
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has been the master of the two-minute drill in his short time in Indianapolis. He drove the Colts into scoring position three times in the first two games, including last week's game-winning 53-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
Luck was back at it again Sunday against the Jaguars.
Down 16-14 with just over a minute left, Luck hit running back Donald Brown on a 39-yard pass that moved Indianapolis deep into Jacksonville territory.
Indianapolis had first-and-10 from the Jacksonville 28-yard line with 1:23 left on the clock. The Colts called three consecutive runs that took 17 seconds off the clock, with the Jaguars calling timeouts. Vinatieri kicked a 37-yard field goal for the one-point lead.
Pagano played it safe with a likely Hall of Fame kicker at his disposal. It backfired.
Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert hit Cecil Shorts down the middle for an 80-yard touchdown pass on their first snap with 56 seconds left in the game. The Colts' secondary busted coverage with cornerbacks Vontae Davis (ankle) and Justin King (groin) sidelined with injuries.
Luck and the offense couldn't do anything with 35 seconds and no timeouts.
"I wouldn't want to misconstrue running the football as not being aggressive," Luck said. "I think that was the absolutely perfect thing to do at the time."
Said Pagano: "Adam comes back and kicks what you think would be a game-winner. But in the NFL, it doesn't matter how many ticks are on there, until it reads 0:00, anything can happen, and that's what we found out today."
There's no guarantee anything would have changed had the Colts gone up 21-16 instead of 17-16. An 80-yard touchdown still would have given the Jaguars the win. But converting that third down with a pass might have been enough to run off those last ticks with a fresh set of downs.
We're admittedly second-guessing with the benefit of knowing the outcome. But it's interesting how one choice in 60 minutes of football can have such a significant impact.Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.