DENVER, Colo. – The Jaguars were good at times Sunday afternoon – as good as they have been all season. And at times, they were really good.
Against the unbeaten Denver Broncos, it wasn't quite enough.
With Justin Blackmon again impressive, and with Maurice Jones-Drew running strong for a second consecutive week, the Jaguars rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit before a late surge gave the Broncos a 35-19 victory in front of 75,892 at Sports Authority Field at Mike High Sunday afternoon.
The Broncos improved to 6-0. The Jaguars are 0-6.
Peyton Manning, who entered the game having thrown 20 touchdowns with one interception, completed 28 of 42 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns. Each touchdown came in the first quarter, and the Jaguars also intercepted Manning, who lost two fumbles in the game.
The Broncos led 14-12 at halftime, and the Jaguars made it 21-19 with a 5-yard touchdown run by Jones-Drew late in the third quarter, but the Broncos pulled away after that. Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno scored on an eight-yard run late in the third quarter to make it 28-19, Broncos.
Moreno's three-yard run early in the fourth quarter made it 35-19, Broncos.
Blackmon caught 14 passes for 190 yards, with quarterback Chad Henne – playing in place of injured Blaine Gabbert – completing 27 of 42 passes for 303 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Jaguars, heavy underdogs entering the game, overcame an early two-touchdown deficit with an inspired second quarter.
Manning gave the Broncos a 14-0 lead with first-quarter touchdown passes of three yards to tight end Julius Thomas and 20 yards to wide receiver Wes Welker.
But in the second quarter, the Jaguars cut into the lead.
Kicker Josh Scobee converted from 50 yards at the start of the second quarter, then the Jaguars turned a pair of Broncos turnovers into points to cut further into the deficit.
First, Scobee converted from 30 yards after a Jaguars drive reached the 4-yard line. Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks recovered a fumbled snap by Manning at the Broncos 40 to set up the series.
The Jaguars then missed a chance to cut further into the lead when Bryan Anger mishandled a snap on a field goal attempt, but linebacker Paul Posluzny intercepted Manning three plays into the next possession.
Posluszny returned the interception 59 yards for a touchdown.
It was Posluszny's first NFL touchdown, and cut the lead to 14-12. It stayed that way at halftime after Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey intercepted a two-point pass by Henne.
This came late in the third quarter. The Jaguars surprised many by being within two at halftime, 14-12, then cut the lead to two again –21-19 – with Jones-Drew's touchdown run late in the third quarter. But Manning responded with an 80-yard drive that ended with Moreno's eight-yard touchdown run and the Jaguars never threatened to take the lead again.
- Wide receiver Justin Blackmon caught 14 passes for 190 yards. That followed a five-reception, 136-yard, one-touchdown performance in his first game of the season last week at St. Louis, so in two weeks since returning from a four-game suspension to start the season he has 19 receptions for 326 yards and a touchdown.
- Maurice Jones-Drew turned in his second solid performance in as many weeks. A week after rushing for a season-high 70 yards on 17 carries against St. Louis, Jones-Drew rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries Sunday.
- Posluszny's interception return for a touchdown was the Jaguars' first since Rashean Mathis returned an interception for a touchdown against Pittsburgh in 2008.
LOOKING ON . . .
*The Jaguars' defensive front pressured Manning early, and while the Broncos scored touchdowns on each of their first two possessions, the drives weren't easy. Manning had to convert 3rd-and-20 on the first drive, and the Broncos drove 95 yards on their second drive. That drive was helped by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch on 3rd-and-14 from the Broncos 40.
*The Jaguars were aggressive early against the heavily favored Broncos. A run-yard run with a direct snap from punt formation gained just one yard on 4th-and-4 from the Jaguars 26, setting up a short Broncos drive for their first score. The Jaguars converted 4th-and-1 on their final drive of the quarter.
*The Jaguars missed a critical opportunity late in the first half after defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks recovered a fumbled snap at the Broncos 40. The Jaguars drove to the Broncos 4, but after a 3-yard loss by Jones-Drew and a delay-of-game penalty they settled for a 30-yard field goal by Scobee to cut the lead to 14-6.
*The Broncos controlled momentum from the beginning, but the first series defined things early. On the first play of the game, Henne missed tight end Clay Harbor open down the left side of the field, and three plays later, a fake punt run by Will Ta'ufo'o on 4th-and-4 fell three yards short. Denver drove 27 yards on the ensuing series, taking a 7-0 lead with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Manning to tight end Julius Thomas.
Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III sustained a sprained shoulder on the team's third play from scrimmage. He did not return.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert (hamstring), defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey (concussion), wide receiver Stephen Burton (concussion), tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf) and cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle) missed Sunday's game.
Guard Jacques McClendon and offensive tackle DeMarcus Love also were inactive for the Jaguars.
Clay Harbor started in place of Lewis, with veteran Will Blackmon starting a fifth consecutive game in place of Gratz.