JACKSONVILLE – There were halftime fireworks and pre-game hype.
That was the off-field stuff for the Jaguars in Preseason Week 3 Sunday, a night on which the on-field stuff didn't come close to matching the good feeling of the team's first two preseason games.
Running back Giovani Bernard caught a 19-yard first-quarter touchdown pass and running back Jeremy Hill ran for a one-yard second-quarter touchdown, plays that gave the Cincinnati Bengals a two-touchdown lead in a first half that defined a 26-21 Jaguars victory at EverBank Field Sunday.
"Well, we played pretty bad," Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said after leaving the game at halftime. "I do not think we did a whole lot of things. We played bad at every position and usually that is what happens when you play bad – you do not score a lot of points."
The Jaguars' first units had looked good to very good in the first halves of preseason losses to the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers the last two weeks.
That wasn't the case Sunday, as the Bengals out-gained the Jaguars 163-90 in controlling the first half in front of 59,812 at EverBank – and in front of a national-television audience on NBC's Football Night in America.
Bortles completed 10 of 16 passes for passes for 52 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The Jaguars' best chance for a first-half touchdown ended when fullback/linebacker Hayes Pullard III's would-be touchdown reception from Bortles was negated because Pullard failed to report as an eligible receiver.
"We had some success as the ones in the first few preseason games, and this is our first chance going against Cincinnati," Bortles said. "Some things did not go our way – but I think just learn from it and be better."
Pullard's touchdown-negating penalty was one of six first-half penalties against Jacksonville for 25 yards. For the game, the Jaguars were penalized 11 times for 65 yards.
The Jaguars' starting offense and defense left at halftime. They had 90 yards total offense at the time and trailed 14-3. The Bengals had 163 total yards at halftime.
The game also marked the much-anticipated preseason Jaguars debut of Kelvin Beachum.
Beachum, who signed in March as unrestricted free agent from Pittsburgh, start at left tackle Sunday after missed the first two preseason games rehabilitating from a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained last season.
Beachum is competing for the starting left-tackle position with Luke Joeckel, who started there the past two seasons and who played well starting there the first two games this preseason. Joeckel started at left guard Sunday, with the loser of the left-tackle battle between Beachum and Joeckel likely to start at left guard in Week 1 against Green Bay.
Beachum played into the second quarter. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley had said during the week he would be monitored and likely play 15-to-25 plays.
Joeckel struggled at times in his first in-game action at guard, matching up against Geno Atkins. The Bengals veteran is considered one of the NFL's best defensive tackles.
The Bengals took an early 7-0 lead when Bernard caught a 19-yard, catch-and-run touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton on Cincinnati's first series. That 22-yard drive was set up when Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon lost a fumble on Jacksonville's first possession.
The Bengals extended the lead with a one-yard run by Hill two minutes into the second quarter. That capped a 16-play, 69-yard drive.
Jacksonville's first-half points came on a 29-yard field goal by Sam Ficken shortly after Pullard's penalty negated the touchdown.
Cincinnati took a 21-3 lead with a 21-yard touchdown pass from A.J. McCarron to Alex Erickson before the Jaguars made it 21-11 with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter with a 7-yard run by Joe Banyard followed by a two-point conversion run by Denard Robinson. Backup quarterback Chad Henne passed three yards to Neal Sterling before a two-point conversion pass to Tony Washington made it 21-18 Jaguars early in the fourth quarter.
Linebacker Hayes Pullard's 62-yard interception return with 7:48 remaining gave the Jaguars their first lead, 26-21.
Photos from the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars in week three of the preseason.
PLAYER OF THE GAME …
Yeldon.The second-year running back gets the nod here despite his early fumble. Yeldon's 23-yard reverse-field run gave the unit a second-quarter spark and led to the Jaguars' lone scoring drive of the first half. Yeldon also had a nice reception for a would-be first down in the first quarter but replays showed him out of bounds. He finished with 34 yards rushing on five carries.
The Jaguars produced 90 first-half yards and five first downs. There were signs of life at times, and Bortles had a nice 18-yard reception for a first down to wide receiver Allen Hurns in the second quarter … but overall, this was not the performance the unit wanted in the dress-rehearsal preseason game.
The defense struggled to get pressure in the first half, and also had too many stretches when it couldn't stop Bernard and Hill. Bernard rushed three times for 27 yards and Dalton completed 6 of 10 passes for 77 yards. A highlight for the Jaguars was a four-yard sack by veteran defensive end Jared Odrick, but overall the Bengals controlled the line much of the night.
Kicker Sam Ficken's 29-yard field goal gave the Jaguars their only first half points. It caromed in off the left upright. Ryan Quigley punted four times for a 39-yard average.
INJURY UPDATES …
Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson left the game with a knee injury in the second quarter and safety Earl Wolff left with a second-half hamstring injury.
The following players were ruled out for the Jaguars Sunday: Safety James Sample (shoulder), offensive tackle Jeff Linkenbach (concussion), defensive end Jonathan Woodard (Achilles), offensive lineman Luke Bowanko (hip), offensive tackle Josh Wells (thumb), defensive tackle Sheldon Day (back), safety Peyton Thompson (concussion) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (quad).
Bowanko and Woodard (Achilles) remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
STANDING OUT …
*Rookie Yannick Ngakoue started at Leo defensive end for the Jaguars with second-year veteran Dante Fowler Jr. healthy and playing as a reserve. Bradley emphasized through the week the team would try to get young players looks with the ones – and Fowler had struggled to get pressure in his first two preseason starts. …
*Rookie Jalen Ramsey and veteran Prince Amukamara started at outside corner against the Bengals. Davon House had started the first two games at outside corner opposite Amukamara (check). …
*With Miller out, Abry Jones started at nose tackle. …