The Jacksonville Jaguars’ four game winning streak came to an abrupt end on a 57-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, leaving one second on the clock in regulation. The team struggled to get out of their own way for most of the game, especially on offense. The defense gave up some plays to Blaine Gabbert, including two touchdowns on blown coverages, but it was clear the Arizona Cardinals came out with a short, quick passing game plan to mitigate the NFL’s best pass rush. It didn’t help that the Jaguars offense was abysmal on third downs, converting just one of 12, and constantly giving up field position to the Cardinals offense.
The Cardinals clearly game planned for the Jaguars defense, picking on the middle of the field with short quick passes and neutralizing the pass rush by not even allowing Gabbert to hold the ball long enough to get sacks. On the few times the Cardinals ran more than a three-step drop, the Jaguars got pressure and he made mistakes, but he also heaved a huge touchdown pass after avoiding some pressure. Still, the defense forced some turnovers and scored a touchdown, but they were bound to have a bad game after their great run of results.
On offense, the Jaguars struggled to say the least. The run game was just not happening as the Cardinals clearly sold out to force the Jaguars into passing situations and then would send pressure to force Blake Bortles to make mistakes. The Jaguars’ running backs combined for just 29 rushing yards, with first round pick Leonard Fournette picking up just 25 yards on 12 carries and spending most of the second half standing on the sideline. The run game was carried by Bortles keeping it on a few read-option plays and some quarterback keepers, but the passing game wasn’t there either for a myriad of issues.
The biggest gaff might have been at the end of the game however, when the Jaguars defense forced the Cardinals to punt it away with about a minute left in the game. The Jaguars came out and ran the ball, seemingly signaling that the team was just going to pack it in and get to overtime, which is perfectly fine considering Bortles just threw an interception. The Jaguars offense huddled up letting the clock bleed and then inexplicably threw the football, falling incomplete on a Marqise Lee drop, stopping the clock.
“At the end of the game, I have to do a better job,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said after the game when he was asked about throwing the ball on second down. “We ran the ball on first down and we got greedy. I should have run the ball, run the clock out, and gone to overtime. That’s my fault.”
Refreshingly Marrone completely owned the awful decision to throw the ball on second down. It was like the team suddenly decided they wanted to go for a field goal, but even if Lee catches the pass it’s still third-and-four so it’s not like the play was even trying to go down the field. You either run the ball three times and take it to overtime or you take a few shots down the field on the sideline and hope for pass interference. It was a total brain fart by the coaching staff and at the very least they recognized it.
But even then, the Cardinals had to hit two sideline throws to even get a shot at an unlikely 57-yard field goal to win and Dawson nailed it.
The Jaguars have overcome critical errors the past two weeks, stealing a win against the Los Angeles Chargers and squeaking past the Cleveland Browns, but as evidenced on Sunday you can’t always expect that to happen. There were just too many errors late in the game for the team to overcome.