When the Jacksonville Jaguars ruled out running back Leonard Fournette for Sunday's tilt in Indianapolis, all eyes turned to Blake Bortles to see if the maligned quarterback would wilt under the amped up pressure.
Not this Sunday. Not versus these Colts.
With the bulldozing rookie sidelined, Bortles enjoyed his best game of the season, tossing for season-highs in yards (330) and completion percentage (69.2). The enigmatic quarterback also avoided backbreaking mistakes, tossing no interceptions to one touchdown pass, and he took just one sack as Jacksonville routed the Colts, 27-0.
"It was huge," Bortles said, via the Florida Times-Union. "It's something that everybody knew we were capable of. Even the past six weeks, I think it was something we knew we kind of had and [would be] able to do when the time came. It just so happened to be this week that we threw the ball and aired it out to move down the field."
With Bortles avoiding mistakes and T.J. Yeldon filling in for Fournette, the Jags compiled 518 yards, third-most in franchise history.
It wasn't all dink-and-dunk either, as Bortles earned six completions of 20-plus yards Sunday.
"We wanted to break some tendencies," Bortles said. "We had a feeling they were going to play us like teams have and put a bunch of people in the box so we wanted to take chances down the field."
It's not the first team to stack the box against run-heavy Jacksonville, and even after Bortles' 300-plus-yard day, it won't be the last.
Yes, it was versus the injured, struggling Colts secondary, but Jacksonville will take any signs of life from its quarterback. The hope is that the small spark will create a fire of confidence for Bortles.
"When you do it once, [teams] will look at it and make you prove it again," coach Doug Marrone said. "When you do it again, [teams] are going to look at it and say, 'Let's see if you can do it against us.' When you do it again, [teams] will say, 'It's not going to be against us.' You have to prove it each week."
Tied with the Titans atop the AFC South at 4-3, the Jags will need Bortles to prove it more down the road if they are to end their decade-long playoff drought.