INDIANAPOLIS -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are tied for first place in the AFC South heading into their bye week.
Read that again.
One more time, because there surely are people having a hard time believing it.
It’s true, though. Sunday’s 27-0 shutout of the Indianapolis Colts -- the team’s first since beating the New York Jets 41-0 in Week 5 in 2006 -- leaves the Jaguars in first place along with Tennessee at 4-3. It’s the first time the Jaguars have been above .500 through seven games since 2007, which was the last time the Jaguars made the playoffs.
“Massive accomplishment,” defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. said. “I’ve been in Florida all my life, and I think the last time the Jaguars went to the playoffs -- what year was that -- ’07? I was in the sixth grade.”
Playoffs? That’s getting a bit ahead of things, however. Still, it’s a big deal for this franchise to enter November with a winning record. For the past six seasons fans have started talking about the upcoming draft before Halloween.
The Jaguars already have surpassed their victory total from 2016 (three), and they did it by putting together one of their most dominating performances over the past decade. They outgained the Colts 518-232 (the first time they’ve surpassed 500 yards since Sept. 20, 1998, against Baltimore), T.J. Yeldon ran for a career-high 122 yards, they sacked quarterback Jacoby Brissett 10 times and quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 330 yards, including a franchise-record 282 in the first half.
“It was a big game for us,” safety Barry Church said. “Going into the bye week 4-3 instead of 3-4 and at the top of your division is a lot better feeling than going in there trying to scrape and claw to get back into the division lead. We knew this was a huge game for us, and we came out and we played like it.”
The Jaguars were understandably pretty boisterous in the locker room after the game. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson said going into the bye week after a victory -- as well as being in first place -- is an emotional lift for a team that really hasn’t had many of those over the past decade.
“I think the best thing coming off a loss is being able to have the opportunity to go out there and try it again,” said Jackson, who had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. “If you come off a loss and you go into a bye week, that means that’s two weeks you’re really thinking about what’s going on and what you did wrong. To have this win, a dominant win like this, guys are going to be relaxed, laughing.
“That bye week might go really fast because we might be a little too relaxed, but it’s a blessing to just have a W going into a bye week.”
The Jaguars are guaranteed to be at least tied for first place in the division when they host to Cincinnati on Nov. 5. The Titans are also off this week and 3-3 Houston plays at Seattle on Sunday, so even if they win, it’ll at worst be a three-way tie.
As good as that feels, though, tight end Marcedes Lewis said it won’t mean much if the Jaguars don’t find a way to win back-to-back games for the first time since last October. So far this season they’ve alternated victories and losses.
“We wanted to come in here and do what we had to, do everything that was in our power to leave out of this one 4-3, and we did that,” Lewis said. “Only thing we did is just win a game. We’ve still got a long way to go. There’s going to be some things we can get better [at].
“Trying to string them together, that’s our next goal.”