A relatively strong showing by the Jacksonville Jaguars defense held Cam Newton to just 175 passing yards and kept the Carolina Panthers offense to just 13 points, but a pick-six thrown by Blake Bortles in the third quarter gave the visiting team a lead that the Jaguars were never able to erase in a 20-9 loss.
Bortles led the Jaguars on a few drives early in the game, but three first half drives into the redzone yielded just nine points thanks to an Allen Hurns fumble and a missed extra point by Jason Myers. The rookie kicker also missed a 44-yard field goal before that to leave even more points on the field.
The inability to turn long drives into points in the first half was at least preferable to the second half, when the Jaguars offense struggled to even put together drives and turned the ball over twice. The duo of T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson managed 70 rushing yards on 17 combined attempts, but offensive rhythm just never got going for the Jaguars.
Had it not been for a strong defensive performance and some missed chances by the Panthers, the final score could've been much worse than a 11-point differential.
Player of the game: Paul Posluszny
Big Cat Country's favorite middle linebacker might be overpaid, but he played on Sunday like he was worth his contract and definitely the team captain that the Jaguars coaching staff and front office love to rave about. He led the team in tackles, delivering a few big hits and making the defensive play of the game when he stepped in front of a Cam Newton pass to pull down the first turnover of the year for the Jaguars.
It wasn't part of a winning performance for the team, but Posluszny led a defensive unit that was the only reason why the game stayed as close as it did.
Biggest concern: Pass rush
Chris Clemons got a big sack early in the game and Dan Skuta fought his way to the quarterback on a blitz, but for the most part Cam Newton was allowed to sit in the pocket and throw around the field, shaking off the few times rushers collapsed the pocket. Had it not been for some drops by Panthers receivers and inconsistent accuracy from Newton, the Carolina passing offense could have done a lot more.
The return of Sen'Derrick Marks should eventually help some and the Jaguars still have Andre Branch on the mend, but the lack of edge rushers is the reason why Dante Fowler was drafted and that deficiency was on display against the Panthers.
Unsung hero: Chris Clemons
On the few times the Jaguars got a rush without a blitz, it was because of Chris Clemons. He and Skuta were the only two to actually bring down Newton behind the line of scrimmage and Clemons tacked on a field goal block near the end of the game to keep the Carolina lead at 11 points.
At 33, he's not a player of the future for the Jaguars, but he seems to be the only one capable of rushing off the edge.
Stat of the game: Zero receptions for tight ends
The loss of Julius Thomas was a significant one for the Jaguars, but common thought was that Clay Harbor and Marcedes Lewis would be even bigger parts of the offense in his absence. Not only did neither player record a catch, Lewis wasn't even targeted through the entire game and Bortles targeted Harbor and Nic Jacobs once each with both passes falling incomplete.
Tight ends are typically the safety valve for young quarterbacks, but Bortles instead had to spend most of his time on Sunday relying on the up-and-down performances of young receivers like Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Rashad Greene.
The Jaguars stay at home for one more week and will host the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. The Dolphins shook off a slow start against Washington in Week 1 to earn a 17-10 win. The Jaguars have started 0-2 in each of the last three seasons.
On the bright side, both the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans dropped their opening games as well, which means a loss for the Tennessee Titans to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would drop the entire AFC South to 0-1 each.