JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 09: Bernard Scott #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals dives across the goal line for a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at EverBank Field on October 9, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida. Cincinnati won 30-20. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
I'm not a "special teams are a third of the game" guy, but when special teams are bad they have a significant effect on a game. In the Jacksonville Jaguars match up with the Cincinnati Bengals, special teams played a significant roll in the Jaguars loss, 30-20. The Jaguars defense once again had a nice showing, limiting the Bengals to under 300 yards of offense, but there wasn't a lot of field to give up because they were given great field position all game.
Jaguars punter Matt Turk shanked a 22-yard punt from his own endzone that set the Bengals up for the game winning drive. The Bengals went 23-yards in 7 plays, including converting a 4th down, and running back Bernard Scott punched the ball in from 2-yards out for the go ahead touchdown.
The Jaguars offense moved the ball well in the first half of the game, including scoring on their opening drive. The Jaguars took the ball 80 yards in 10 plays to each up over five minutes of clock to go up 7-0. It was one of the most efficient drives the Jaguars have had all season. Ultimately however, with poor special teams play and the failure for the Jaguars to capitalize on redzone possessions, they were only able to score 20 points.
The Jaguars special teams unit killed the team all day long. Matt Turk, who's terrible, punted like he's punted all season: Awful. Turk's currently 30th in the NFL in net punting average. It wasn't just punting that set the Jaguars defense up in poor field position however, it was also the punt return unit. Rookie wide receiver Cecil Shorts has been handling the punt return duty and hasn't been very good. Frankly he looks like he's not sure what's going on. On more than one occasion Shorts just let the ball bounce in front of him, losing yardage.
Frankly, if it wasn't for special teams screw ups, the Jaguars probably win the football game. Special teams usually don't have a huge impact on games... unless they're bad. The Jaguars went from one of the best special teams units to one of the worst, quickly. I don't think it's just because they're missing Kassim Osgood and Montell Owens, either. They're not going to help Shorts not catch punts inside the 10-yard line. They're not going to help Matt Turk punt the ball over 30 yards.