The Jacksonville Jaguars got their first win of the season Sunday, thanks to a Jason Myers 28-yard field goal with 40 seconds left, giving Jacksonville a 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars got off to a fast start, scoring on their first drive of the day, highlighted by Allen Robinson’s 36 yard catch, setting the Jaguars up at the 11-yard line. Robinson finished off the drive with a three yard catch in the end zone, putting the home team up 7-0. That gave the Jaguars some early confidence, something they were not able to harness last week in their loss to Carolina.
After Miami answered with a field goal, the Jaguars went down the field again, with an eight play 71 yard drive. Robinson was the man again for the Jaguars, pulling in a 52 yard pass on the drive and setting Myers up for a 27-yard field goal, pushing the lead to 10-3, and closing out the first quarter. “He was awesome,” said Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles of Robinson. “He’s got the ability to do that every week. He’s a big, physical player with unbelievable play-making skills. When he sets his mind to it, he can go up and catch any ball.”
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley has preached that the Jaguars need to get off to a fast start in every game and offensive coordinator Greg Olson has bought into that belief, according to Bortles. “Ole preaches starting fast and finishing faster,” he said. “I think we were able to showcase both those tonight, with getting a good drive starter and then closing the game out really good.”
Miami answered with a field goal by Andrew Franks to make it 10-6 and then Bortles went back to work, leading Jacksonville on a 91-yard drive in 5:05, putting the Jaguars up 17-6. Robinson’s 46 yard catch in the end zone, capped off a great half of football for him, putting him over 100 yards receiving and giving the Jaguars a commanding lead. Miami didn’t go quietly in the second quarter. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill got Miami’s first touchdown of the day, with a 10 yard pass to Damien Williams, making it a 17-13 game. Myers got a chance at the end of the half to expand Jacksonville’s lead and he did, with a 58 yard field goal, as time expired. That kick was one yard short of the Jacksonville record, but was met with some criticism by the broadcast team calling the game for CBS.
After a 17-yard pass interference call against Brice McCain of Miami set the Jaguars up, the team of Andrew Catalon, along with Steve Tasker and former Jaguars QB Steve Beuerlein, criticized the spotting of the ball, contending that it should have been a 60 yard kick, not 58. Myers made the kick from 58, with not much room to spare, as it hit the back of the goal post as it went through. The kick gave the Jaguars a 20-13 lead, but the CBS crew was quick to point out that had the ball been spotted correctly, the kick would have fallen a yard to a yard and a half short. Much to their chagrin, the spot was never reviewed and the Jaguars went into the locker room with the lead.
After Miami tied the game with an 80-yard drive in the third quarter, the teams traded punts. The Jacksonville defense came up big when the offense struggled, holding Miami at bay, until Bortles led the Jaguars down the field late in the fourth quarter, completing passes of 18, 19, and nine yards, setting the team up for the Myers game-winner. The Jaguars were helped by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Miami late in the drive that saw Jags’ tight end Clay Harbor get pushed to the ground after the whistle by Oliver Vernon, moved the Jaguars into field goal range.
“It was just a dumb play by me,” Vernon told ESPN.com. ”That was it. We lost. It’s over with man. They played better ball than us. I take full responsibilities for my actions, on to the next week.” Bortles ended the day completing 18 of 33 passes for 273 yards, with two touchdowns. “I thought he made some good decisions,” said Bradley of Bortles. “Although we stalled a little bit in the second half, we just stuck to it.”
The defense deserves a lot of credit for their late push, but the offensive line cannot be forgotten. Even without the services of Luke Joeckel, who was ruled out earlier in the week, the Jaguars did not allow a sack in this game, despite Ndamukong Suh breathing down his neck. It was the first game in Bortles career that he was not sacked. It was a great overall team effort, with running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 70 yards on 25 carries and Marqise Lee, who had been nursing a hamstring injury since training camp, saw his first action of the season and had 27 yards receiving. Robinson finished with six catches for 155 and two TD’s.
Jacksonville starts a three game road trip next week in New England against a Patriots squad that is hitting on all cylinders. The win over Miami was a much needed bounce-back win after the loss to Carolina, but the game at Gillette Stadium next Sunday will be a true test for this young Jaguars team and a great measuring stick, testing the will and character of this Jaguars squad early in the season. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.