JACKSONVILLE – Talk about a Happy Homecoming.
The Jaguars played at home for the first time in more than a month on Sunday, and the result was the biggest moment of their rookie quarterback's career thus far.
Blake Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, engineered a game-winning drive in the final minutes, with kicker Josh Scobee's 43-yard field goal with :28 remaining capping a dramatic rally and giving the Jaguars a 25-24 victory over the New York Giants at EverBank Field Sunday.
Giants kicker Josh Brown's 33-yard field goal with 3:30 remaining had given the Giants the lead on the preceding possession.
Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning on the first play from scrimmage after Scobee's field goal. Defensive end Chris Clemons recovered to secure the victory.
Bortles drove the Jaguars 55 yards on 11 plays to set up Scobee's field goal. He passed for 39 yards and rushed for 31 yards on the drive.
The drive capped a stunning second-half comeback for the Jaguars.
Trailing 21-3 at halftime, they scored a defensive touchdown when linebacker J.T. Thomas recovered a fumble by Manning in the end zone with 11:13 remaining in the third quarter, then cut the lead to 21-16 when Bortles passed 30 yards to rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee with 1:55 remaining.
The Jaguars took the lead when rookie nickel back Aaron Colvin returned a fumble 41 yards for a touchdown with 12:56 remaining.
Bortles completed 21 of 35 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, and running back Denard Robinson rushed for 44 yards on 11 carries. Bortles was sacked seven times, and it was the first time in his career he had not thrown an interception.
Manning completed 24 of 34 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. The Jaguars forced three turnovers, all fumbles.
The game came on the Jaguars' 2014 Homecoming game, with a slew of former players including Jimmy Smith, Mark Brunell, Keenan McCardell, Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor – key players on their perennial playoff teams in the 1990s – in attendance.
Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars' head coach from 1995-2002, also was in attendance as the head coach of the Giants.
It was Coughlin's current team that dominated at the start Sunday.
Bortles struggled early, and with the Jaguars' offense unable to convert a first down until 5:37 remained in the second quarter, the Giants controlled the tempo of the game by controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock.
The Giants, after punting quickly on their first possession, scored on their next three possessions, turning the game one-sided quickly with touchdown drives of 91, 54 and 63 yards.
The Giants set the tone for the first half in the first quarter.
They did that by turning in a 91-yard drive that ended with a two-yard run by former Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings on the first play of the second quarter. The series that began on the Giants nine and consumed the final 9:48 of the first quarter.
It was the longest scoring drive ever allowed by the Jaguars.
With the Jaguars unable to convert a first down on the ensuing series, the Giants drove quickly on the next drive, using a 32-yard pass from Manning to tight end Larry Donnell to set up a three-yard pass from Manning to wide receiver Preston Parker that pushed the Giants' lead to 14-0 with 11:27 remaining in the second quarter.
Donnell's pass from Manning gave the Giants 1st-and-goal at the Jaguars 2.
The Giants held a 167-9 total-yardage advantage at that point and had run 30 plays to six for the Jaguars.
Jennings' 17-yard touchdown run with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter gave the Giants a 21-0 lead, and the half ended with the Giants leading 21-3 after Scobee's 28-yard field goal with 2:03 remaining in the half.
The Jaguars' comeback began early in the third quarter. Linebacker Geno Hayes sacked Manning on 2nd-and-7 on the Giants' first possession of the half, Thomas recovered in the end zone for a touchdown that made it 21-10, Jaguars.
In the end, this came on the final drive. The Giants seemed to have momentum after Brown's field goal with 3:30 remaining, but Bortles remained calm through the final drive and using his arm and legs, moved the Jaguars into Scobee's range.
1..Hayes' sack/fumble and Thomas' recovery in the end zone gave the Jaguars momentum, and was the Jaguars' first fumble recovery for a touchdown in 18 games. …
2.Lee had his first NFL regular-season touchdown when he caught a perfect pass from Bortles on the right sideline of the end zone with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter.
3.The Jaguars' offense found life in the third quarter thanks at least in part to Robinson's effectiveness from the Wildcat formation. He rushed 21 yards on back-to-back plays to set up Lee's touchdown. …
4.Colvin's 41-yard fumble return early in the fourth quarter not only gave the Jaguars their first lead of the game, it marked the first time in franchise history the Jaguars had two defensive touchdowns in a game. …
Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch left the game in the first half with a groin injury, and did not return. He had missed the last four games with a groin injury.
Starting right tackle Austin Pasztor left the game late in the first half and also did not return. He was replaced in the lineup by rookie free-agent Josh Wells.
Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns left briefly with a shoulder injury in the first half but returned, and reserve linebacker Khairi Fortt sustained a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return,
Rookie middle linebacker Jeremiah George was the only Jaguars player held out of the game Sunday for injury reasons.
Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, who along with George was listed as questionable for Sunday's game in the final injury report of the week Friday, was cleared to play despite a neck injury.
George, who started at middle linebacker at Cincinnati Week 9 before sustaining a high-ankle sprain, was among seven players inactive Sunday with the others being cornerback Jeremy Harris, cornerback Teddy Williams, running back Storm Johnson, guard Tyler Shatley, offensive tackle Sam Young and defensive end Chris Smith.