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Awareness needed: Lions 31, Jaguars 14



It's a trend Mike Mularkey doesn't quite understand.

But while Justin Blackmon twice in the last two weeks has failed to get his feet in bounds on a completed pass, Mularkey – the Jaguars' head coach – said he doesn't see it as an area in which Blackmon inherently struggles.

"I have seen him do that (get two feet inbounds) dozens of times in college," Mularkey said Sunday.

Blackmon, a rookie wide receiver from Oklahoma State, missed a chance for a reception last week against the Packers when his second foot stepped out of bounds. Late in the third quarter of a 31-14 loss to the Lions Sunday, Blackmon had a similar chance at a reception, catching the ball on the sidelines and getting one foot inbounds before stepping out of bounds with the other.

"There has got to be an awareness of the sideline and where you are on the field," Mularkey said. "He's close, he is just not dragging (his toes) like I have seen him do. It is worked on – catching the ball is worked on. It is. Pass protection is worked on. Why it's not happening two games in a row I have no idea."

Blackmon finished Sunday with five receptions for 32 yards and caught a six-yard pass in the fourth quarter for his first NFL touchdown.

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The game still felt very much in the balance early, and a lot of credit had to go to rookie punter Bryan Anger for keeping the Jaguars close. The Jaguars did not have a first-quarter first down, and after the first of two first-quarter three-and-outs, the Jaguars faced 4th-and-4 at their 19. The Lions had a chance to get prime field position, but Anger launched a 73-yard punt that bounced and rolled to the Lions 8 before it was downed by rookie Kevin Elliott. That flipped the field and forced the Lions to drive the length of the field for a 47-yard field goal attempt by Jason Hanson. That kick bounced off the right upright, and after another three-and-out, Anger again punted the Lions deep in their territory with a 47-yarder that went out of bounds at the Lions 9.


The Jaguars and Lions were tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter, and a big reason was Anger. The Lions controlled the game's momentum, and drove to the Jaguars 30 before Jason Hansen missed a 47-yard field goal. Anger's two punts helped the Jaguars maintain field position throughout much of a quarter in which they produced just 13 yards of offense.


The Lions took control methodically and quickly, with running back Mikel Leshoure scoring on a 7-yard run with 12:16 remaining in the half to make it 7-0. Leshoure scored on easy runs of 1 and 8 yards before halftime, with the last coming with :29 remaining in the half to make it 21-0. By halftime, Detroit had 18 first downs to three for the Jaguars and 285 yards to 57 for Jacksonville.


The Jaguars got their footing a bit in the third quarter, outgaining the Lions 82-65 and piecing together a good drive that took them to the 26, but both possessions ended in interceptions. The second possession ended when a pass from Gabbert bounced off the hands of running back Rashad Jennings and into the hands of cornerback Jonte Green.


The Jaguars made the score closer with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, but neither threatened the Lions' lead. First, a 5-yard pass from Gabbert to wide receiver Micheal Spurlock and a two-point conversion pass to Rashad Jennings made it 24-8. After a Lions touchdown clinched it for Detroit, Gabbert closed the scoring with a 6-yard pass to Justin Blackmon with 50 seconds remaining.



"We were doing some things, certainly better on offense, in the second half than we did in the first half. A lot of that was a little change in the scheme."


"You've got to have singular focus and focus on the play that's called right then and right there. You can't worry about the play that just happened, the plays before that, the drive before that or the next play. You've got to focus on each and every play in order to execute because if one guy isn't focused on his job the play is not going to be successful."


"The good thing about this one is it's a short week. We've got Indy coming in Thursday. We beat them the first game, so I'm looking forward to just correcting the mistakes if coach wants to correct them and moving forward to Indy tomorrow."


There were many noteworthy statistics, and while few reflected well on the Jaguars Sunday, one stood apart from the others to Gabbert. The Jaguars ran 12 plays in the first half, a number that Gabbert said was indicative of the 57 yards of offense and three first downs the team produced in the first two quarters. "We had 12 plays," he said. "I mean, come on: that's pathetic for an offense to have 12 plays in the first half – zero for four on third downs. . . . We can't afford to shoot ourselves in the foot or else it's going to be a poor showing like that."


This was a significant step back offensively for the first two and a half quarters. The Jaguars struggled to run for a fifth consecutive game, and after passing effectively a week ago, the offense seemed bunched near the line throughout the first half. The Jaguars finished the game with 279 yards, with 222 coming in the second half. Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings finished with 45 yards rushing on 12 carries, and wide receiver Cecil Shorts caught three passes for a team-high 56 yards.


After two steps forward the last two weeks, the Jaguars defense struggled on Sunday to get the Lions off the field in important situations. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson was dominant for Detroit, finishing with seven receptions for 129 yards. The Lions got three second-quarter touchdowns on easy runs by Leshoure and that was essentially all they needed.

* *


For lack of anything better, we'll say it's the first quarter. The Jaguars' offense struggled in the first half and didn't really threaten in the first half, and after the Lions missed some chances early, they pulled away steadily in the second quarter. Had the Jaguars moved in the first quarter they could have stayed in the game, but once that didn't happen, Detroit took control quickly and coasted from there.


The Jaguars' performance this season at home has been bad, almost inexplicably so. They have been outscored 126-34 – and as familiar as Sunday may have felt, they have been an entirely different team at home than on the road, where they have been competitive in all four games.  The home schedule has been tougher, without question, so that plays a role, but as for specifics about why they have struggled at home, the Jaguars had no answers and few theories.  They need to figure it out fast. The Colts visit EverBank Field on Thursday.


The Jaguars sustained no significant reported injuries on Sunday.

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*Tight end Marcedes Lewis finished with four receptions for 41 yards, in the process surpassing Kyle Brady for the most receptions in team history by a tight end with 243.

*Cornerback Derek Cox played despite being limited with a back injury much of the week. The Jaguars inactives for Sunday were running back Maurice Jones-Drew, fullback Greg Jones, fullback Montell Owens, defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton, cornerback Rashean Mathis, safety Dwight Lowery and wide receiver Anthony Armstrong.

*Wide receiver Laurent Robinson played after missing the last three games with a concussion. The free-agent signee caught a team-leading six passes for 41 yards.

*Mularkey said after several games in which the tackling improved, the Jaguars struggled in the area on Sunday. The area had been a concern through training camp and the preseason. "A lot of it is poor technique, poor angles, not being in the right position," Mularkey said.

*Anger had perhaps his best game of the season, punting four times for a net 50.5-yard average. He had three punts inside the 20 and a season-long punt of 73 yards.


The Jaguars play host to the Indianapolis Colts Thursday.


Not much to say about this game. The Jaguars entered the game with hope and feeling like they made progress in recent weeks. That feeling ended fast. The Lions controlled the game from the start, essentially clinched it by halftime and clinched it for real with an easy fourth-quarter drive. You get tired of saying the team needs to regroup and improve, but that's the storyline again.

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