The Jacksonville Jaguars surprised the hell out of everyone when they came out of the gate and built a two-touchdown lead over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. I had us pegged for a loss — a close loss, but a loss nonetheless.
And then Blake Bortles played lights out, the defense forced three turnovers, and special teams was as aggressive and productive as ever.
As the fourth quarter was winding down, big plays allowed the Seahawks to get within six points of the Jaguars. The score was 30-24 and Russell Wilson had the ball near midfield.
The defense needed to make a stand and they did — with a little help from the referees.
Play #1: 1st and 10 at SEA 42
Jimmy Graham has a season catch percentage of just over 59 percent. That puts him on par with Marqise Lee — barely good enough to crack the top-100 of receivers in the NFL.
Here he lines up wide right and A.J. Bouye is giving him more than 10 yards of cushion. It’s a simple gimme play that the defense is willing to give up in favor of covering the deep ball and he just drops it. It hits him in the hands and he flat out drops it.
Graham was thrown to several times this game and he didn’t have a single reception. It’s the first time this season he didn’t have a single catch.
Play #2: 2nd and 10 at SEA 42
The defense is still playing 10 yards off and Doug Baldwin gets an easy nine yards. Not allowing the first down, however, is huge.
Also — look at the slot receiver at the bottom of the play. The coverage is busted and the safety (don’t know if it’s Tashaun Gipson or Barry Church) shifts the absolute wrong way. If Wilson sees him it’s another touchdown. Phew.
Play #3: 3rd and 1 at JAX 49
Look at the individual effort of Malik Jackson. I mean, my God.
Play #4: 4th and 9 at SEA 43
Here’s the part I’m talking about where the Jaguars got away with one. It’s the biggest no-call I’ve seen on the Jaguars all season.
Aaron Colvin is the nickel cornerback and he trips himself up a few yards into the coverage. He flails wildly and catches Paul Richardson by the ankles.
It’s a call that could have easily gone against the Jaguars and it didn’t — and it might be the difference between home field advantage or not.
With the Seahawks able to capitalize on big plays, especially in the second half, stopping them here was as important as any other drive in the game. A potential 31-30 deficit could have been insurmountable had the Seahawks gotten a touchdown and run a little more time off the clock.