CHICAGO – The Jaguars came back. Somehow.
The Jaguars struggled offensively for three quarters on a foggy, gray day in which little went right before rallying improbably for 17-16 victory over the Chicago Bears in front of 55,684 at Soldier Field Sunday afternoon.
Wide receiver Arrelious Benn's 51-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Blake Bortles gave the Jaguars a 17-16 lead with 1:52 remaining. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey then broke up Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer's final pass to secure the victory.
The victory gave the Jaguars two consecutive victories including a 30-27 victory over Indianapolis a week before last week's bye. It was the first road victory of the season for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars, after stagnating offensively much of the game, cut a thirteen-point lead to 13-7 when running back Chris Ivory capped a 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 14:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.
That was the score one series later when Bears linebacker Willie Young registered his second sack of the game.
This one forced a fumble by Bortles that led directly to a 32-yard field goal by Connor Barth that pushed the Bears lead to 16-7 with 3:29 remaining.
Jason Myers' 32-yard field goal one possession later cut the Bears' lead to 16-10.
Bortles completed 20 of 33 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown with an early interception that bounced off the hands of wide receiver Allen Robinson.
Hoyer, who threw three touchdown passes in a Houston victory in Jacksonville last season, was efficient much of the day. He completed 30 of 49 passes for 302 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions.
The Jaguars missed a point-blank opportunity early that set the tone for the half – and indeed, much of the game.
The Jaguars were impressive on their first possession, driving from their 10-yard line to the Bears 1. They not only failed to score a touchdown, they failed to get points – and in the process gave the Bears momentum.
Facing 2nd-and-goal from the Bears 1 after driving from the Jaguars 10, a false-start penalty on tackle Kelvin Beachum penalty moved the Jaguars to the 5. Robinson then dropped a pass in the end zone. Bears cornerback Tracy Porter caught the deflection for a drive-ending interception.
The Bears turned that turnover into a 3-0 lead when Barth converted a 36-yard field goal with 14:12 remaining in the second quarter.
The Bears then pushed the lead to 10-0 with a methodical 16-play, 86-yard drive. The Bears converted five of five third downs with running back Jordan Howard capping the drive with a one-yard run with 4:29 remaining in the half.
Barth's 24-yard field goal with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter made it 13-0, Bears.
PLAYER OF THE GAME …
Arrelious Benn, wide receiver. The Jaguars' veteran had just one reception, but it was a big one. He caught a 20-yard pass from Bortles and after slipping to the ground got up and sprinted to the end zone for a 51-yard, go-ahead touchdown. That gave the Jaguars their lone lead of the game.
The Jaguars' offense struggled much of the game, then played big when it mattered late. They finished with 317 total yards, including 149 in the fourth quarter. The offense was impressive on its first drive, then struggled the rest of the first half with 24 yards after that.
The Bears finished with 389 total yards, but managed just 75 in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars' defense allowed 204 yards in the first half and allowed Hoyer 171 yards on 16-of-26 passing. Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery caught six passes for 90 yards in the first half on cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Punter Brad Nortman continued to be one of the Jaguars' best players this season. He punted five times for a 52.0-yard average and flipped the field with a 60-yard punt early in the second quarter.
INJURY UPDATES …
* Wide receiver Rashad Greene Sr. (Achilles), running back Corey Grant (toe) and wide receiver Neal Sterling (foot) were among seven Jaguars players ruled out before the game. Also ruled inactive: quarterback Brandon Allen, cornerback Josh Johnson, defensive end Chris Smith and offensive lineman Bryce Harris.
*With Greene and Grant out, wide receiver Bryan Walters handled punt returns and wide receiver Marqise Lee handled kickoff. Greene normally is the Jaguars' punt returner and Grant is the kickoff returner. Neither Lee nor Walters got much opportunity, with Walters returning no punts and Lee returning one kickoffs for 28 yards. Lee also returned one punt for three yards.
*Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns was shaken up on a frightening collision in the second quarter and returned to give the offense significant life with a pair of long catches – for 25 and 29 yards – late in the third quarter. Hurns finished the game with five receptions for 74 yards.
*Free safety Tashaun Gipson played Sunday after being added to the injury report as questionable Saturday. …
*Lee caught six passes for 61 yards.