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Five key plays: Giants 23, Jaguars 17


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 23-17 loss to the New York Giants in a 2022 Week 7 game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday

1. Big answer. The Jaguars' first touchdown Sunday drive was more about the entire possession than a particular play. Either way, it was an important moment as the Jaguars responded to an early Giants touchdown with one of their most impressive drives of the season. After the Giants took a 7-0 lead on a 32-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to wide receiver Darius Slayton, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence led an efficient six-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a seven-yard run by second-year running back Travis Etienne Jr. Etienne followed his first NFL touchdown with a two-point run that gave the Jaguars an 8-7 lead with 6:58 remaining in the first quarter. Lawrence completed three of three passes for 48 yards on the drive, with the key play perhaps a 24-yard screen pass to tight end Dan Arnold one play before Etienne's touchdown. The Jaguars faced no third downs on the series.

2. Wow and ow. The Jaguars missed an opportunity to take the lead late in the first half, a sequence that featured one of the game's most spectacular plays followed by a major mistake. First, Lawrence on 2nd-and-25 from the Jaguars 34 completed a 34-yard pass to wide receiver Christian Kirk, with a late-hit-out-of-bounds penalty on the Giants giving the Jaguars first-and-10 at the Giants 17. Etienne on second-and-10 from there rushed for 12 yards but fumbled when hit by safety Xavier McKinney. The ball bounced into the end zone, where safety Julian Love recovered to give the Giants possession at the 20 and keep the Jaguars' lead at 11-10 with 3:26 remaining in the half. "I was stumbling, and my knee hit the ball," Etienne said. "I was trying to gain my balance. It was an unfortunate situation. I'm in the red zone. I'm stumbling. [I should have] just put two hands on the ball and go to the ground and lived for the next play."

3. ETN again. The Jaguars re-took the lead early in the second half – and as it has been the case often in recent weeks, the drive was keyed by a big run by Etienne. The second-year veteran, who had his first NFL 100-yard rushing game Sunday, ran left on the first play of the second half and got around the corner for a 49-yard gain to the Giants 24. Lawrence six plays later dove over the center of the line to give the Jaguars a 17-13 lead with 11:45 remaining in the third quarter. Etienne finished the game with 114 yards and a touchdown rushing on 14 carries. "I feel I could have played much better," Etienne said. "I feel like I left a lot of plays out there. It really put a damper on that."

4. Ooof. A chance for the Jaguars to push the lead to double digits early in the fourth quarter turned into a big opportunity for the Giants. First, the Jaguars failed to convert on third-and-fourth-and-one from the Giants 20, with Lawrence stopped on a fourth-down sneak up the middle with 11:25 remaining. "They were kind of ready for that," Lawrence said. "We had ran a couple early in the game and they made some adjustments, so it's the same thing. Good on them. You just hope you can get a little bit there. We just weren't able to. It was a good play by them." The two plays came after Kirk initially appeared to pick up a first down with a five-yard run on a reverse on second-and-five from the 26. The Giants then drove 79 yards on 10 plays and took a 20-17 lead on Jones' one-yard sneak with 5:31 remaining. "Initially we thought on our sideline we got the first down," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "We're preparing for getting the call in for first down. Then, it came up third down. We had to switch gears there. We've got to sort it out, obviously. I don't think cost us the game, but it was definitely a big part of it."

5. Sooooooo close. The Jaguars came oh-so-close to a dramatic victory Sunday, driving into Giants territory in the final seconds. The game ended when Lawrence threw 16 yards to Kirk, who was tackled at the Giants' one by safeties Julian Love and Xavier McKinney as time expired. "I was close," Kirk said. "You put the ball on the body, fall forward and try to get into the end zone. They did a great job defending it. I thought I could try to fall in, but we executed the play the way we had practiced it and that's all you can ask for." Said Lawrence, "Credit to them. Literally, if they give up one more yard, we win. So, they made the play and you've got to tip your hat to them for doing that." A 28-yard pass on fourth-and-15 from the Jaguars 40 from Lawrence to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. and a roughing-the-passer penalty had given the Jaguars a first down at the Giants 17 on the previous play. "All you can ask for is a shot at the end," Kirk said. "We came up short, which is unfortunate. This team shows resiliency. It's like we've been saying for the last couple of weeks: 'We just have to finish.'''

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