JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 23-13 loss to the Denver Broncos in a 2021 Week 2 game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday …
1. Big-time throws on opening drive. Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. to cap an impressive game-opening drive Sunday – but the possession was about more than one play for Lawrence. He completed three of three third-down passes on the drive for 62 yards, converting all three into first downs. Lawrence opened the drive with a 24-yard pass to tight end James O'Shaughnessy to convert 3rd-and-two from the Jaguars 25. He also converted 3rd-and-three from the Broncos 35 with a 13-yard pass to Jones. The Jaguars also converted a third down with an illegal-contact penalty on Broncos cornerback Kyle Fuller on 3rd-and-6 from the Broncos 47. "We felt like going into this game, as much disguise as they did with the secondary, that was one of the spots that we could try to attack was the one-on-ones outside away from the Cover 2 side," Lawrence said of the touchdown. "Marv did a good job holding his grass, gave him a chance, he made the play. That was awesome to see. Got to do more of that, and that's me, too. I've got to be more accurate. We've got to make more plays downfield."
2. Saaaaack! The Broncos moved efficiently on their first drive, but defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen continued a strong start to the season by helping stop the Broncos' drive with a 16-yard sack. Allen got pressure on Teddy Bridgewater, then wrestled the veteran quarterback to the ground – turning 1st-and-goal from the 10 into 2nd-and-goal from the 26. After two short passes from Bridgewater, Broncos kicker Brandon McManus converted a 32-yard field goal and the Jaguars still led, 7-3, with :26 remaining in the first quarter. The sack was the second of the season for Allen, who also had one in a Week 1 loss to Houston. The Jaguars held the Broncos scoreless on their next two drives, with Bridgewater testing the Jaguars' secondary deep – and cornerback Shaq Griffin and safety Rayshawn Jenkins ending one second-quarter drive with back-to-back passes defensed on deep passes to allow the Jaguars to maintain a 7-3 lead.
3. Bridgewater deep to Sutton … If any Broncos offensive player hurt the Jaguars Sunday, it was wide receiver Courtland Sutton. He nearly had big plays early in the second quarter, with Bridgewater missing him on a deep pass early in the period and Griffin breaking up a deep pass on the right side of the field midway through the period. Bridgewater connected with Sutton with 3:03 remaining in the quarter for a 33-yard gain, a play on which he beat Jenkins. That turned 2nd-and-10 from the Broncos 40 into first down at the Jaguars 27. Sutton earlier on the drive caught a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-6 from the Denver 24. Bridgewater capped the drive with a 12-yard pass to wide open wide receiver Tim Patrick for a 10-7 Broncos lead with 1:54 remaining in the quarter. Sutton caught four passes for 68 yards in the half.
4. … and Bridgewater deep to Sutton again. The Broncos still led by their halftime advantage – 10-7 – before Sutton hurt the Jaguars again. After testing the Jaguars' secondary with Sutton throughout the first two quarters, Bridgewater and Sutton beat them for their longest connection of the game – a 55-yard gain that gave the Broncos early third-quarter momentum. This time, Sutton beat second-year cornerback Chris Claybrooks – subbing for starting cornerback CJ Henderson (hip) – down the middle of the field for a first down at the Jaguars 17. Bridgewater's 14-yard pass to tight end Noah Fant two plays later gave the Broncos a 17-7 lead, with Fant breaking a tackle by Jaguars linebacker Damien Wilson en route to the touchdown.
5. And it's an interception. The Jaguars still maintained hope as the end of the third quarter approached. They trailed 17-7, but the offense had driven to the Jaguars 40 and faced a manageable 2nd-and-3 situation from there. Lawrence, who had cooled since the game-opening drive but who hadn't thrown an interception in his first 24 attempts, threw 20 yards downfield to rookie tight end Luke Farrell. After it appeared briefly that Farrell was open, veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson cut across Farrell at the last second, intercepting Lawrence and returning it seven yards to the Broncos 49. Kicker Brandon McManus capped the ensuing drive with a 46-yard field goal that pushed the lead to 20-7. “A bad decision by me,” Lawrence called the interception.
5(a). All the way back. Jamal Agnew's 102-yard fourth-quarter kickoff return didn't get the Jaguars back in the game, but it was impressive enough to merit mention. The Jaguars signed Agnew as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason believing he was one of the NFL's best returners. The fifth-year veteran looked the part on the return, breaking a tackle by Broncos linebacker Jonas Griffith at the Jaguars 15 early in the return, then accelerating quickly and outracing the coverage across the field. He got a late block from linebacker Chapelle Russell near the Broncos end zone to enable him to score. "I saw the guy I saw when we went out and got him," Meyer said of Agnew. "We haven't been able to get him loose as a punt returner – and that's really where he's dynamic, too. If they (return teams) know there's a guy back there who can do it, they block that much harder. They know he can do it now. That's going to be on tape."
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