CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Jaguars got close at times. Really close.
They just never could get close enough.
Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles passed for two second-half touchdowns to Allen Hurns, and Denard Robinson ran for a second-half touchdown, but a late rally wasn't enough for the Jaguars in 33-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in front of 60,057 at Paul Brown Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, completed 22 of 33 passes for 247 yards and the two touchdowns to Hurns. He also was intercepted once – by safety George Iloka in the end zone with 3:55 remaining and the Jaguars trailing 33-23.
Hurns caught seven passes for 112 yards. Bortles has thrown eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season.
Bengals running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 154 yards and touchdowns of 1 and 60 yards on 24 carries. He became the first player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Jaguars this season.
Hill's 60-yard touchdown run with 8:04 remaining came one play after the Jaguars had cut the lead to 26-23 on a 5-yard run by running back Denard Robinson. That was the closest the Jaguars had been in the second half.
The Jaguars drove the field on the possession after Hill's touchdown, but after scrambling, Bortles threw toward Hurns in the back of the end zone. Iloka intercepted easily to essentially end the Jaguars' comeback hopes.
Hill's touchdown came after Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee kicked the kickoff following Robinson's touchdown out of bounds, giving Cincinnati possession at the 40.
The Jaguars had cut into a 19-3 lead with a pair of touchdown passes from Bortles to Hurns. One came on a 40-yarder in the third quarter and the other cut the Bengals' lead to 26-16 with 9:55 remaining. Hurns outfought defenders for the ball at the goal line on each touchdown.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's 18-yard touchdown to wide receiver A.J. Green had given Cincinnati a 26-10 lead.
The Jaguars' defense continued its solid play from recent weeks early in the game, keeping Cincinnati from crossing midfield in the first quarter. The Jaguars' offense went without a first down on its first two series, but turned in a 10-play, 79-yard drive late in the first quarter.
Scobee's 25-yard field goal capped that drive to make it 3-0, Jaguars, with 1:21 remaining in first quarter.
The Bengals took a 7-3 lead on their first series of the second quarter, a drive helped when linebacker Telvin Smith missed Bengals running back Cedrick Peerman on a 17-yard first-down converting third down. Dalton capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu with 11:28 remaining in the first half.
The Bengals drove deep into Jaguars territory on the ensuing possession, but settled for a 31-yard field goal after a touchdown pass from Dalton to Green was negated by Green lining up offsides. That drive was set up by a punt that traveled 27 yards after being tipped by Rex Burkhead.
Safety Taylor Mays blocked Jaguars punter Bryan Anger's punt on the ensuing possession, with the ball sailing out of the side of the end zone for a safety and a 12-3 Bengals halftime lead.
The Bengals took a 19-3 lead when Hill scored on a 1-yard run with 10:33 remaining in the third quarter.
This actually came in the second quarter, as the Bengals turned a 3-0 deficit into a 12-3 lead. They did so because of the touchdown pass to Sanu, but mostly because of the struggles of the Jaguars' special teams. The tipped punt by Burkhead set up a 49-yard field goal drive and the blocked punt by Mays was good for a safety. When the Bengals scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, they had 19 consecutive points and a 16-point lead they never fully relinquished.
1.Running back Robinson and Toby Gerhart turned in a pair of big plays on the Jaguars' field-goal drive late in the first quarter. Robinson broke a 39-yard run to give the Jaguars a first down at the Bengals 43, and Gerhart turned third-and-16 into a first down with a 19-yard gain on a screen pass.
2.Linebacker J.T. Thomas leveled Bengals running back Rex Burkhead on a 3rd-and-4 pass late in the first half. That set up 4th-and-1 from the Jaguars 43, and forced the Bengals to punt, keeping the Jaguars within nine points at halftime.
3.Thomas intercepted Andy Dalton and returned it 10 yards to the Bengals 7 to set up a 5-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run by Robinson. It was Thomas' second interception in as many weeks and marked the Jaguars' first game with two interceptions this season.
Jaguars offensive guard Brandon Linder left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return, while tight end Clay Harbor returned shortly after a first-quarter elbow contusion. Jacques McClendon replaced Linder at right guard.
Linebacker Jeremiah George, making his first NFL starter, sustained an ankle sprain in the second quarter and did not return.
Robinson left the game briefly after being shaken up, but returned on the next first-quarter series.
The Jaguars also made left tackle Luke Joeckel active for the Cincinnati game. He had been expected to play, having been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion last Sunday against Miami.
The Jaguars announced seven inactives 90 minutes before kickoff, with wide receiver Mike Brown deactivated along with linebacker Dekoda Watson, running back Storm Johnson, guard Tyler Shatley, defensive end Andre Branch, cornerback Will Blackmon and offensive tackle Josh Wells.