The Jacksonville Jaguars’ winning streak comes to a crashing halt in a last second defeat to the Arizona Cardinals.
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost to Blaine Gabbert.
I am required to provide more analysis than that, and I will, but that statement sums up what a disastrous Sunday it was in Arizona.
The Jaguars came out of the gate flat, and could not overcome costly mistakes and questionable decisions, as the four game winning streak goes up in smoke to the Cardinals on a 57-yard field goal with a second left. No matter how you try to examine this game, this was an awful loss, and leaves a bitter taste.
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Jacksonville was asleep at the wheel the entire first half and put themselves in a 13-3 hole at halftime. The Jaguars finally woke up in the second half, and even gained a 17-16 lead in the fourth quarter, but back-breaking mistakes and baffling coaching errors led a gut-wrenching defeat on the road.
A breakdown of the crushing loss to the Cardinals:
Stagnant performance by Blake Bortles and the offense
The Jaguars offense was stuck in the mud for much of the day, especially early. Jacksonville had four punts and a fumble in the first half, on their way to just three points at half. It was a slightly more productive effort in the second half, but nowhere near the level deserving of a win.
Blake Bortles scored two touchdowns with his legs, but in the passing game, Bortles made the all-too-familiar throws that have cost the Jaguars games. With under three minutes to go in the game, and already in range for a leading field goal, Bortles threw an interception right to Tyrann Mathieu to kill the scoring threat.
The Cardinals went all in on stopping the run and putting heat on Bortles, and it worked. The blueprint to stop Jacksonville’s offense is becoming more clear by the week, and teams are taking note.
The organization knew what they had with Blake Bortles before the season started, and still decided to roll with him as the starter this year. The loss today wasn’t completely on him, but eleven games into the season, it’s tough to accept that a special season might be minimized by a lack of a reliable guy behind center.
Defense kept it close, but made unexpected errors
The defense once again kept the Jaguars in the game, and gave their all given the performance from the offense, but unusual lapses by the unit led to a big day for Blaine Gabbert and the Cardinals offense.
Busted coverage in the second quarter allowed for a wide open touchdown pass and a 13-0 lead for Arizona. Then in the fourth quarter, the story of the game for the defense was summed up by back-to-back defensive possessions early in the fourth quarter. After a strip sack by Yannick Ngakoue that was scooped up for a touchdown by Calais Campbell to give the team their first lead of the game, the Jaguars proceeded to give up a 52-yard touchdown bomb from Gabbert on the subsequent drive that quickly erased the lead.
Jacksonville didn’t have a bad day on defense, and gave the offense chances to win again, but it was big pass plays, from Blaine Gabbert nonetheless, that were an unwelcome and surprising occurrence on Sunday.
The former Jaguars quarterback out-gunned the current Jaguars quarterback, a brutal development in an eye sore of a game.
Inexplicable coaching at the end of the game
Indefensible play calling in the final minutes of the game by the Jaguars coaching staff gave the Cardinals a last chance to win in regulation, for which they took full advantage.
The Jaguars got the ball back tied at 24 with 1:14 to go at their own ten yard line. Backed up, it was okay to accept overtime, and on the first play it looked like that was exactly what Jacksonville was doing. But after a two yard run on first down, the Jaguars decided to throw a short pass over the middle to Marqise Lee. It went incomplete to stop the clock, and saved the final timeout for Arizona. The Cardinals used the timeout after a five yard run on third down, and won the game on the ensuing possession.
The decision to not run the clock out and head to overtime was a baffling miscalculation, and came back to haunt the team.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will look to bounce back next Sunday at home against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts fell to the Tennessee Titans, and with that, the Titans have regained control in the AFC South.
It was an awful defeat to the Cardinals, but the Jaguars still control their own destiny, and need to learn from the loss moving forward.