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Five key plays: Jaguars 40, Cowboys 34 (OT)


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 40-34 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a 2022 Week 15 game at TIAA Bank Field

1. Fuuuumble. Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr.'s first-quarter fumble Sunday led to an early Cowboys lead. On second-and-13 from the Jaguars 43, Etienne fumbled when he made contact with guard Brandon Scherff. Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson recovered at the Jaguars 41, with Dallas taking a 7-0 lead six plays later when running back Ezekiel Elliott scored on a 10-yard touchdown run up the middle. Most significant for the Jaguars wasn't that play, but what Etienne did the rest of the game. The second-year veteran rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries Sunday and caught two passes for 24 yards. "I feel like that's what makes you great," Etienne said. "That's what makes you a good player, is how you respond. There are going to be highs and lows in any game you play. I have to be better. I can't put the ball on the ground. I'm very grateful that [Head] Coach [Doug Pederson] has a belief in me to keep coming back to me."

2. Quick and methodical. The Jaguars' offense was impressive on a second-quarter touchdown drive, moving 75 yards on nine plays for a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Lawrence to wide receiver Zay Jones. The problem in the first half for the Jaguars was the Cowboys' offense was equally impressive, driving 86 yards for a touchdown on the drive before Jones' touchdown and driving 66 yards for another touchdown on the drive after Jones' touchdown. The drives were more about consistency than big plays, with quarterback Dak Prescott capping the 86-yard drive with a perfectly placed pass to tight end Peyton Hendershot to give the Cowboys a 14-0 lead with 13:01 remaining in the second quarter. Prescott's second touchdown pass of the game – a one-yarder to wide receiver Noah Brown – capped the 66-yard and gave the Cowboys a 21-7 lead at halftime. Prescott completed 15 of 16 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

3. Big-play Zay. Zay Jones had perhaps the biggest game of his NFL career – and his big play in the third quarter started the Jaguars' comeback. Jones got behind Cowboys cornerback Kelvin Joseph on a double move. Lawrence, rolling right, hit Jones on the run and Jones crossed the goal line while securing the ball and being tackled by Joseph. The play trimmed the Cowboys' lead to 27-17 with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter. As significantly, the touchdown came three plays after the Jaguars' defense had held the Cowboys to a 53-yard field goal after Lawrence's lone interception of the game – by cornerback DaRon Bland – gave the Cowboys possession at the Jaguars 42.

4. Big pick – and a reverse. That it would be a special day for veteran safety Rayshawn Jenkins began becoming clear late in the third quarter when he intercepted Prescott to give the Jaguars possession at the Cowboys 39. A 30-yard run on a reverse by wide receiver Jamal Agnew gave the Jaguars first-and-goal at the nine, and Lawrence passed 10 yards to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. to cut the Cowboys' lead to 27-24 with 1:23 remaining in the third quarter. "I think we got more and more confidence as the season has gone on, where no matter what kind of hole we're in, we're going to find a way out of it," Lawrence said.

5a. Clutch catch. With the Jaguars having taken control of the game's momentum early in the fourth quarter, Lawrence threw deep to wide receiver Christian Kirk on second-and-five from the Jaguars 46. Kirk beat Bland on an inside fade and fingertip caught the pass for a 27-yard gain to the Dallas 27. Lawrence five plays later passed three yards to Zay Jones to give the Jaguars a 31-27 lead with 10:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. "We've been able to make plays in those big moments where we have to have them," Lawrence said.

5b. Memorable effort. Jaguars tight end Evan Engram caught a team-high eight passes for 62 yards Sunday, and his biggest play may have come late in the fourth quarter. Engram caught a five-yard pass from Lawrence in the middle of the field, ran for the sideline and was tackled as he reached out of bounds at the Dallas 49. Officials initially ruled Engram in bounds, forcing the Jaguars to use their final timeout to stop the clock. When officials reviewed the play, they ruled that Engram had gotten out of bounds – stopping the clock and saving the Jaguars' final timeout. Lawrence on the next play passed 19 yards to Zay Jones, with the Jaguars then using the final timeout to stop the clock. Jaguars kicker Riley Patterson's 48-yard field goal on the final play of regulation tied it at 34-34 and forced overtime. "If he doesn't get out there, we burn the timeout," Lawrence said. "There's not many plays you can run to get 10, 12 yards and get out of bounds that the defense doesn't know you're going to do. That changed the game."

5c. All.The.Way. Jenkins' memorable day ended with the biggest play of his career. On third-and-four from the Dallas 47 on the Cowboys' first possession of overtime, Prescott passed to Brown, who was well-defended by Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon. Jenkins caught the carom and raced down the right sideline for a 52-yard game-winning touchdown. "I saw it pop in the air and I was like, 'Yo, I've got to score right here,''' Jenkins said. "There was a huge block by someone in front of me. I was running for daylight."

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