JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 31-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in a 2021 Week 3 game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday …
1. Gotta catch it. Much about the Jaguars' early performance Sunday was impressive. The defense held the Cardinals and quarterback Kyler Murray to one touchdown on six first-half drives, and gunner Rudy Ford downing a punt by Logan Cooke at the Cardinals one-yard line late in the first quarter gave the Jaguars a major field-position advantage. But the Jaguars failed to capitalize on that advantage in a big way. Taking possession at the 50 after the Cardinals punted from their own end zone after the downed punt, the Jaguars drove deep into Cardinals territory with rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence keying the drive with a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. to the Cardinals 19. But a catchable pass by Lawrence to tight end Jacob Hollister on 3rd-and-8 from the 17 bounced off Hollister's hands, and cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. intercepted to keep the Cardinals' lead at 7-0 with 12:26 remaining in the half. "You can't do that with a young quarterback," Head Coach Urban Meyer said of the drop. "You can't do that. That's unacceptable. It's unacceptable with an old quarterback. You just can't do that. It just drives you nuts."
2. Perfect on both ends. The Jaguars outplayed the Cardinals much of the first half, with the defense holding the NFL's second-highest scoring offense to seven first-half points. The Jaguars, after missing an opportunity to tie early in the second quarter when Jones intercepted, put together one of their most impressive drives of the season late in the half. Lawrence completed six of six passes for 58 yards on the drive, and his passes of 13 and five yards to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. gave the Jaguars a first down at the Cardinals 12. Lawrence on the ensuing play passed into the left back corner of the end zone, a high-velocity pass over the outstretched arms of a Cardinals defender. Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. leaped high and touched both feet down in the corner of the end zone for the tying touchdown with :21 remaining in the second quarter.
3. All the way back. The Jaguars ratcheted their late-half momentum with one of the more memorable touchdowns in TIAA Bank Field history. The Cardinals following Chark's touchdown drove from their 25 to the 50 with :02 remaining in the half. Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury opted to allow kicker Matt Prater to try a 68-yard field goal – which would have broken the NFL's record for longest field goal. Jaguars returner/wide receiver Jamal Agnew, who returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown in a 23-13 loss to Denver last week, caught the short attempt and ran toward the left sideline, weaving through the Cardinals' field-goal team and breaking two early tackle attempts around the Jaguars 30- and 35-yard lines for a 109-yard return. It was the NFL's first "kick six" touchdown return since Antonio Cromartie did for the San Diego Chargers against the Minnesota Vikings in 2008. The return tied the record for longest play in NFL history. "I was like, 'If he (Prater) doesn't get this, I'm probably going to score,''' Agnew said, noting of the field-goal team: "It's all offensive linemen, a couple of tight ends and the kicker." Agnew said it was his first time returning a missed field goal. "It's all big dudes out there," he said. "I just can't get tackled by the kicker. Honestly, that's my thought process." Asked when he thought he would score, Agnew said: "As soon as the ball was short, I knew they probably weren't going to catch me because I would just use my speed."
4. Grind it out on the ground. The Jaguars' first-half scoring drive was impressive, but a third-quarter drive that led to a two-score lead may have been their best of the season to date. The Jaguars, after rushing just 32 times in the first two weeks of the season – were much better running Sunday – and their third-quarter touchdown drive was particularly impressive. The Jaguars on that possession used 75 plays – all runs – and took a 19-10 when running back James Robinson scored on a four-yard run. This drive was impressive in that there was no particularly big play; rather, this was drive-long running dominance with Robinson running six times for 60 yards.
5. Sudden change. The Jaguars' second-half momentum was short-lived – as was their lead. They cut the nine-point lead to two with a four-yard run by running back James Conner with 1:21 remaining in the third quarter – and the ensuing offensive possession was disastrous. On 2nd-and-6 from the Jaguars 25, Lawrence handed to running back Carlos Hyde, who tossed back to Lawrence from the line of scrimmage. Lawrence threw to the right sideline to Hollister, but Murphy intercepted easily and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown and a 24-19 lead. "I kind of had a guy in my face," Lawrence said. "I threw it off my back foot. I really didn't see the corner fall off on it there. I kind of saw him (Murphy) as the ball was coming down. Just not a good decision. You've got to just throw it away if the guy's close and protect that. The defense had been playing great. To just give them seven points there … it makes it tough."
Check out these top photos from the Jacksonville Jaguars Week 3 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals