NEW ORLEANS, La. – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 31-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints in a 2023 Week 7 game at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, La., Thursday
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…
- True to the formula. The Jaguars have won four consecutive games – and if their identity wasn't clear before, it is now. It was evident Thursday, too. This is a very good defensive team through large stretches of games, and a tough defense with the game on the line. The offense also makes big plays at key moments, even during games when it struggles at times. Biggest takeaway from Thursday: This is a team that has shown in the last month it knows how to win whatever it takes – and that's all that matters in the NFL. Considering the circumstances the Jaguars faced entering Thursday, how they won didn't matter. Just winning did – and big plays at key times are becoming this team's identity. "That's something that builds your team is when you see guys make the plays when they have to," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "When we score when we have to, when the defense gets stops on fourth down when they have to, with the game on the line, that builds confidence in your team more than blowing a team out. That was cool to see. Just the overall belief in each other that we have right now, that's awesome." Indeed.
- Give this team credit. This references not just Thursday's game, but the last four weeks. Beating the Saints on the road in a hostile Superdome and doing so on a Thursday night is impressive, and it's particularly impressive considering Lawrence was questionable throughout the week with a knee injury sustained Sunday. The Jaguars also played Thursday without cornerback Tyson Campbell (hamstring), wide receiver Zay Jones (knee) and left guard Walker Little (knee). Making the four-game winning streak particularly impressive was the first two victories came in London, another came a week after those back-back games and the fourth came on the road on a Thursday. This team was 1-2 with a slew of questions following a Week 3 home loss to the Houston Texans. To reel off four consecutive victories under these circumstances is the big-time stuff of contenders. "I like where we are right now," wide receiver Christian Kirk said late Thursday. That feeling was well-deserved. This team earned it.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …
- I don't know that I can call it an ugly win because they scored 31 points and at times it looked beautiful. But it wasn't a pretty win. It was a tough one for a football team playing its third game in 12 days on two continents and across six time zones. Mix in the question about the quarterback – and injuries on the offensive line and in the secondary – and you get the sense this was always going to take a Herculean effort. Herculean fits because running back Travis Etienne Jr. was heroic with his third consecutive two-touchdown game. So was Kirk, who cut through the defense for the game-winning touchdown when it mattered the most late in the fourth quarter. And so was cornerback Montaric Brown for most of the night – and especially on fourth-and-goal in coverage on wide receiver Chris Olave. There are lots of things to pick apart and they undoubtedly will. But 5-2 is what it's all about tonight.
- Third down is still a big problem. Look no further than Etienne's second-down run with nine minutes remaining. He stopped near the sideline just short of the marker and tried to make a move back to the inside instead of just turning the corner and likely making the first down. Instead, he came up short and the Jaguars faced third-and-one. Etienne came up short again. The Jaguars faced fourth-and-less than a yard and Etienne was stopped short yet again. Leading 24-16 they desperately needed a clock-killing drive and couldn't deliver. Three plays later, Saints quarterback Derek Carr found wide receiver Michael Thomas for a touchdown and running back Alvin Kamara for the two-point conversion to tie the game. After taking a 14-3 leadm the offense failed to convert their next eight third-down conversion attempts, punting on five of their next seven possessions and turning it over on downs once. The Saints ran 51 plays in the second half to only 22 for the Jaguars. The defense is good and playing well, but they must figure third down out over the next 10 days before the Steelers game.
Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...
- Defense wins championships and it just won Thursday Night Football. The Jaguars' defense remained dominant stopping the run and the Saints' offense struggled to get anything going in the passing game until late. New Orleans was three for 18 on third down and didn't even find the end zone until the fourth quarter. On a short week, the Jaguars' defense was everything it needed to be to win.
- Not so special teams. The continued issues on special teams should not be overlooked after a dramatic finish. Preventable mistakes and penalties gifted the Saints extra possessions and better field position in the first half. Thursday Night Football is tough enough without shooting yourself in the foot.
Showtime in the Superdome 🎥 View the top live shots of the Jaguars vs. Saints matchup 🏈