It began in sunshine and ended in a downpour.
For the Jaguars, Sunday turned dark at the same pace, with a first half of missed opportunities turning into the Cincinnati Bengals pulling steadily away over the final three quarters en route to a 27-10 victory in front of 63,030 at EverBank Field.
"We do have a lot of football to go," Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. "We have to chip our way back."
The Jaguars, who rallied for a last-second victory in Indianapolis a week ago, lost for a third time in four games, and lost for the second time in as many games this season at EverBank Field.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed 20 of 31 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, with one of the touchdowns going to wide receiver A.J. Green, who caught six passes for a game-high 117 yards.
Green also set up a late first-half touchdown with a 42-yard reception to the Jaguars 1.
The Jaguars led early in the second quarter after quarterback Blaine Gabbert passed two yards to tight end Marcedes Lewis, but while Gabbert finished 23-of-34 for 186 yards and a touchdown, he also threw his first interception of the season.
The Bengals outgained the Jaguars, 382-212.
"We killed ourselves," Gabbert said. "We have to execute at a higher level."
The Jaguars, despite having all five starters on the offensive line playing for the first time since the regular-season opener, allowed Cincinnati six sacks. With little time to throw downfield, Gabbert worked the ball mainly underneath, with his longest completion a 23-yard screen pass to Lewis that helped set up the team's lone touchdown.
The Jaguars defense failed to produce a sack for the third time in as many games. That's first time since 2009 the Jaguars have gone three consecutive games without a sack.
Rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon caught six passes for 48 yards, but running back Maurice Jones-Drew – a week after rushing for 177 yards and a touchdown in a victory over the Colts – rushed 13 times for 38 yards.
The Jaguars squandered two big defensive opportunities on the game's first drive, with linebacker Kyle Bosworth fumbling after returning an interception inside the Bengals 20, and cornerback Rashean Mathis failing to hold on to a potential interception return for a touchdown.
Mularkey said the team on Saturday night talked about playing a complete game together.
"Obviously, we didn't do that," Mularkey said.
Dalton's 1-yard sneak two plays after his 42-yard pass to Green gave the Bengals a 17-7 lead, and the Jaguars stayed close in the third quarter.
First, they narrowly averted a 17-point deficit when defensive tackle C.J. Mosley recovered a fumble by running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the end zone. They followed that with a 14-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard field goal by Josh Scobee.
That made it 17-10, Cincinnati, but Dalton passed 18 yards to Green on the ensuing drive to give Cincinnati a 14-point lead with 13:51 remaining. As a hard rain fell throughout the fourth quarter, the Jaguars' offense never moved past its 32-yard line again.
"That was a good start with the atmosphere, the energy of the crowd," Mularkey said, referring to a crowd that saw former running back Fred Taylor inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars. "The whole day looked like it was going to be something that was going to be memorable. We had some opportunities to make that continue. We had some opportunities, and we let the game get away late.
"We need to find a way to make some plays. That was the difference. You saw a team that did that, threw the ball up to A.J. Green. We have to find a way to do that."