The Jaguars used a healthy dose of the running game and Leonard Fournette in a 26-24 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
It didn’t look good for the Jacksonville Jaguars after falling behind 17-3 to the Denver Broncos late in the second quarter. But a compelling second half fueled by running back Leonard Fournette led the team to a 26-24 road victory.
Fournette rushed 29 times for 225 yards and caught two passes for 20 yards. Here is why he was the Jaguars Player of the Week.
A week after Fournette showed disappointment in the running game during the Thursday night game against Tennessee, the former fourth overall pick recorded his career-high in rushing yards, looking like his former 2017 self.
It wasn’t until a 69-yard burst last week against the Tennessee Titans when Fournette got out of negative rushing yardage. Sunday’s outburst was the first time since week 14 of the 2017 regular season against the Seattle Seahawks that Fournette rushed for over 100 yards.
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Coming out of the half, trailing 17-6, Jacksonville orchestrated a 16-play, 75-yard drive that took over 10 minutes and resulted in a touchdown to rookie running back Ryquell Armstead. Fournette rushed for 49 yards on that drive, eventually running for 190 yards in the second half.
Fournette’s biggest play came soon after, on an 81-yard scamper from the Jaguars seven-yard-line to the Broncos’ 12-yard-line.
Many of Fournette’s gains came off first contact, a positive sign for the running back’s aggressiveness and toughness. Fournette always has the ability to break tackles and gain more than he should, and it showed Sunday.
Fournette now leads the AFC, and third in the league in rushing yards with 404 on 72 carries.
Credit goes to the Jaguars coaching staff for substituting Will Richardson into the offensive line at right guard, who helped pave the way for Fournette’s monster second half. His dominant performance was the best fans have seen since Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor were stomping all over defenses many years ago.
Despite the success from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II, the Jaguars are a much better team when Fournette is providing a consistent and powerful rushing attack.
Jacksonville is able to tire out their opponents and control the game with a strong running game, as seen by the 39:12 to 20:48 time of possession disparity. It’s the type of ball controlled offense the franchise wants to be known for just like it was in 2017.
Next week, it’s an excellent running back showdown as Fournette and Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey – who were both drafted in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft – showcase their talents in Charlotte.
This week could have been the game Fournette needed to get himself back into a rhythm The team will need more performances like this for a playoff push in the AFC South, where all four teams are currently 2-2.