INDIANAPOLIS -- This one really hurt.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ previous six losses also upset quarterback Trevor Lawrence. But this one on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium was worse, because the chance to pull an upset for the second consecutive week dribbled away when Lawrence fumbled with less than a minute remaining.
Instead of a comeback from a 17-0 deficit, the Jaguars lost 23-17, and it hit Lawrence hard.
“This one stung, I could tell,” Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer said. “This one stung. This one hurt him. And what’s my responsibility, the coaching staff, and rest of the team: Pick each other up, man. There’s going to be critics; there’s going to be this. But that’s fine. Let’s go out and beat San Francisco [in Week 11].
“We’re going to get the ball in your hand again with a chance to go win the game. We’re going to go do it this time.”
But while he might be upset and angry at himself for the fumble and the loss, the rookie quarterback hasn’t lost confidence despite going 16 for 35 passing and just 162 yards and no touchdowns. He’ll beat himself up for a day or so, but even in the sputtering and foundering offense in Sunday’s loss, Lawrence sees progress.
“I’m disappointed in myself. Frustrated,” Lawrence said. “But I know how far we’ve come. You look back compared to the first couple weeks of the season, and it’s night and day of where we’re at. We’ve got a locker room full of guys, coaches and players that believe, and we’re on the right track, but this one hurts just because I’m frustrated in myself. Had a chance to go win the game and got to do that. I had no doubt we were going to win the game. The whole offense believed it. Just got to finish.”
Lawrence was not good in the first half, completing just 3 of 14 passes for 36 yards. Six of the Jaguars’ eight first-half drives were three-and-outs, while the other two were four and six plays, respectively, and they trailed 20-9 at the break after trailing 17-0 in the first quarter.
The Jaguars' defense limited the Colts to just a field goal in the second half, and Lawrence led the offense to a fourth-quarter touchdown. The Jaguars got the ball with 2:22 to play, and five plays later, they were at the Indianapolis 46. That’s when Lawrence fumbled while being sacked by DeForest Buckner and Dayo Odeyingbo.
Meyer and several teammates consoled Lawrence afterwards. Meyer was, naturally, a bit worried about his QB’s psyche. He wanted to make sure Lawrence didn’t take the full weight of the loss on himself.
“They love him,” Meyer said. “... We pick each other up, so it’s kind of neat to see what happened in [the locker room] afterwards. Heck yeah, I worried about that. He’s got a lot of on his shoulders right now. That’s why everybody around him has got to, you know what, play a little better. All of us. Coach a little better. All of us.”
Tight end Dan Arnold, who had a false start and a dropped pass on back-to-back snaps, in addition to catching a team-high five passes for 67 yards, told Lawrence he couldn’t let the disappointment linger. Arnold learned that after he let a dropped touchdown pass in the NFC Championship Game with the New Orleans Seasons in 2019 and it bothered him for much of the offseason.
“I said, ‘Hey, this moment right now, that’s not what matters,’” Arnold said. “'It’s how we’re going to move on from this, and that’s going to ultimately define you as the kind of player that you are.’ I could see it in his eyes; he’s ready to move on from it. ...
“Trevor is a very grounded person, and I think it’ll come naturally and easily for him. You know it sounds like we’re talking that it is all Trevor’s fault. But it’s not even close to that. I think everybody played bad. There was dropped balls everywhere and penalties everywhere. And I think it’s one of those things as an offense we have to just kind of put on our shoulders and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get better for you and we will.’”
Lawrence’s season hasn’t exactly gone the way many had hoped. He entered the game with eight touchdown passes and nine interceptions, while completing 59.5% of his passes. The Jaguars (2-7) have only won twice -- beating the Miami Dolphins in London and upsetting the Buffalo Bills last week -- but they also had a chance to win at the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4.
Lawrence had lost just four games as a starting quarterback in high school and college combined, so he has nearly doubled his total losses over a seven-year span in his first 2½ months in the NFL.
The 22-year-old rookie is handling it pretty well. He said he knows that everything he’s going through is part of becoming an NFL quarterback; he just hates not playing well and that the offense just can’t seem to get into any kind of a rhythm.
“Just got to play better [on offense], and that starts with me,” Lawrence said. “I’m hard on myself and got to get better. But there’s going to be things you’ve got to go through and stay positive. That’s what I’m doing right now, and the locker room is in good spirits. Obviously, we’re pissed off. Had a chance to win that game. Should have won that game and didn’t, but the locker room’s good, and I’m good.
“Just got to let it simmer for a day and move on, and we’ve got to go play San Francisco.”
Kickoff in Jacksonville against the San Francisco 49ers (3-5) is set for 1 p.m. (FOX).