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What we learned: Jaguars 20, Chargers 17

Posted Nov 13, 2017

Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 20-17 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 20-17 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday

1.The Jaguars are tied for first place ... OK, we’re not learning this, but it’s worth remembering. The Jaguars are 6-3, tied with Tennessee for first in the AFC South. They’re a game and a half up on Miami for the second wild-card spot. The team hasn’t achieved its goals, but they’re well within reach.

2. … and they’re on a real, live winning streak. The Jaguars have won three consecutive games. The last time that happened was 2013. The Jaguars were basically out of contention at that point, so the streak mattered only a little. This streak matters a lot.

3.The whole can’t win-at-EverBank-Field thing was silly. The Jaguars have won back-to-back games at the ‘Bank. They’re 3-2 there under Head Coach Doug Marrone. There was no real reason to think the Jaguars couldn’t win in Jacksonville, and now guess what? They’re winning in Jacksonville. Go figure.

4.Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers doesn’t own the Jaguars anymore. There are countless reasons for Jaguars fans to love that victory Sunday. This might be No. 1.

5.A.J. Bouye was a great free-agent signing. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey may be the NFL’s best cornerback, but Bouye may be close to as important to this defense. He has three interceptions this season – none bigger than the one he returned to the Chargers 2-yard line to set up Josh Lambo’s 30-yard game-winning overtime field goal.

6.Blake Bortles is making strides … Bortles for three quarters played one of the better games of his career, continuing a recent trend. He completed 28 of 51 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. We’ll get to the interceptions soon enough, but give Bortles credit for playing well in the first half – and for getting the Jaguars back in the game with a big-time 84-yard drive that he capped with a six-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marqise Lee – and a two-point conversion pass to Lee. That drive may have been the best of Bortles’ NFL career.

7. … but he still has strides to make. It was difficult to parse through Bortles’ day Sunday and come to any overarching conclusions. In addition to the aforementioned touchdown drive, he also had three beautiful would-be long gains that skimmed from his receivers’ fingers. He also deserves credit for a couple of clutch throws at the end of the fourth quarter and in overtime. But he also had two really rough-looking interceptions in the final two minutes that could have – and perhaps should have – cost the Jaguars the game. The Jaguars for the past three seasons couldn’t overcome such untimely errors. They overcame them Sunday.

8.The Jaguars’ formula is the formula for a reason. The Jaguars absolutely don’t want Bortles throwing 51 times a game. Sunday was his fifth time over 50 attempts in his career, and it was the first time the Jaguars had won with him throwing that many. When quarterbacks throw that often, bad things usually happen. They happened to Bortles Sunday to the tune of three sacks, a ton of pressure – and eventually the two late interceptions.

9.This defense is a winning unit. The Jaguars’ defense has had more dominant performances this season – 10 sacks against the Colts and Texans, five interceptions against Pittsburgh – but Sunday’s performance stood out for plays that mattered in big situations. A three-and-out in the final minute. A forced fumble that was nearly the game-winning touchdown. An interception that led to the game-winning field goal. This unit is clutch – and it does more than keep the Jaguars in games. It wins them.

10.Corey Grant’s speed is a real asset. So much happened after halftime it was easy to forget running back Corey Grant’s first-half 56-yard touchdown on a fake punt. But Grant’s speed and elusiveness was eye-catching on that play, and those points were all that kept the Jaguars in the game until Bortles’ third-quarter touchdown pass.

11.The Jaguars have a penalty problem.  The Jaguars committed three 15-yard penalties Sunday, and two – an overtime taunting penalty on cornerback Aaron Colvin and a fourth-quarter taunting penalty on wide receiver Marqise Lee – could have been costly. The Jaguars are a young, emotional team, but you still must play with emotions at least somewhat under control.

12.Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is not superhuman … The Jaguars rushed for just 79 yards offensively, and Fournette rushed for just 33 yards on 17 carries. What happened? The Chargers stacked the box, and the approach worked; the Jaguars also were without tackle Jermey Parnell for the entire game and left guard Patrick Omameh much of the game. A stacked box? Two linemen out? Few backs will excel in that scenario.

13. … but the Jaguars can win when they struggle to run. Credit here to the defense for keeping the Jaguars in it – and to Bortles for some accurate passing outside of the two interceptions. And Bortles’ accurate deep passing was significant. The Jaguars are going to face stacked boxes, and they must hit big plays against them. His deep passes to tight end Marcedes Lewis, Keelan Cole and Marqise Lee didn’t result in big gains, but it wasn’t because Bortles didn’t make the necessary plays.

14.Football at the ‘Bank is fun again. Isn’t it?

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