This was a bad play. A momentum-killing, balloon-deflating, throw-your-Bud-Light-can-across-the-room kind of play.
Blake Bortles' lone interception of the day on Sunday arrived with 14 seconds left in the first half. Down 14-3, the Jaguars set up on the Falcons' one-yard line with a complete set of downs and no immediate pressure to convert.
So, naturally, the Jaguars' second-year quarterback pressed into a gigantic mistake.
Bortles targeted tight end Marcedes Lewis on the play, but the ball actually found the hands of Bortles' former UCF teammate Kemal Ishmael. Ishmael almost took the ball 99 yards in the other direction for a Falcons TD, but Bortles was able to chase him down and hold the Falcons to a last second field goal. Atlanta went into the half up 17-3 -- a score that undoubtably should have been 14-10.
Here's the breakdown:
The Jaguars set up with two off-line tight ends from the one-yard line. Wide receiver Allen Robinson is out on an island to the right, but most of the action will unfold to the left. Marcedes Lewis (yellow) will be Blake's first and only read. Allen Hurns (red), however, is the most important component in this particular play. If you observe Hurns' route, he's supposed to get enough of the overhead defender (Kemal Ishmael) so that Lewis can sneak underneath into the flat.
At the snap, Bortles takes a one-step drop and fires. His eyes are locked onto Lewis the entire time. Hurns doesn't get much of Ishmael before breaking to the right, which allows the defender to sneak into the ball's trajectory. Meanwhile, running back Denard Robinson (orange) seems to have a little space underneath in the middle of the field. Blake never acknowledges this -- he doesn't make time. It's a quick-trigger sequence, and one that Blake has to read fast. Unfortunately, he reads wrong.
As Blake fires the pass, he probably recognizes his mistake instantly. Marcedes' original defender, a linebacker (1), almost gets a piece of the pass. Kemal Ishmael (2) capitalizes on the opportunity that his teammate misses. There was no way in hell that this pass was ever going to make it through two defenders.
From the endzone view, you can see how bad this decision truly was. Again, it's a quick-trigger play. It's one step and a throw. Doing almost anything else seems like it would have been a better choice in this situation, but for whatever reason, Blake pressed and the offense lost.
If Blake had taken time to react to the situation at all, this is what he could have done:
Blake was going to look left no matter what -- that was his preconceived read on the play. Turning back and trying to hit Allen Robinson in single coverage to the right wouldn't have worked out due to timing. What Blake should have done was pull the ball back and turn to roll out to his right. The offense would have been kicked into a scramble drill, and Blake could have created an opportunity to do what he does best -- direct receiver traffic and move the defense with his feet.
At the very least, Blake could have rolled out and thrown the ball away. The Jaguars were running out of seconds, but there would have been enough time on the clock to live another down.
Then again, hindsight is 20/20. Blake knew where he was going with the ball when he broke the huddle, and his decision bit him in the ass. The Jaguars tried to push one through and they failed.
It's the kind of play that might make you question the play calling, execution, or even your entire existence. But in the end, it's just a mistake. An annoying, frustrating mistake.
Here's the play in video form, if you're into that kind of thing.
This replayed over and over in my nightmares last night https://t.co/XVLK0eT98V
— Cole Hartley (@ColeFartley) December 22, 2015