EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 26-21 loss to the New York Jets in a 2021 Week 16 game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
1. Faaaaake!! The Jaguars won the toss, opted to receive and took the lead on the possession. That marked their first lead since a November 7 victory over the Buffalo Bills, with the team not having led during a six-game losing streak entering Sunday. The early score wouldn't have happened without a gutty decision by Interim Head Coach Darrell Bevell, with safety Andrew Wingard running four yards with a direct snap on 4th-and-2 from the Jaguars 33. Bevell said the fake was part of the Jaguars' plan to be aggressive early Sunday. "I had greenlighted that with Special Teams Coordinator] Nick [Sorensen] early and it just played out that way that we ended up in that situation,” [Bevell said. "Great job of executing there, and it did lead to points for us to get out in an early lead." The Jaguars moved quickly after that, with rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence throwing 12 yards to tight end James O’Shaughnessy and a 35-yard interference penalty on Jets cornerback Brandin Echols defending wide receiver Laquon Treadwell giving the Jaguars 1st-and-goal at the Jets 4. A 21-yard field goal by kicker Matthew Wright gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead with 8:12 remaining in the first quarter.
2. All.The. Way. The Jaguars' lead didn't last long. The Jets after Wright's field goal drove from their 9 to the 48, with Jaguars rookie safety Andre Cisco narrowly missing his first career interception on 2nd-and-7 from the Jets 24. Four plays later, the Jets faced 3rd-and-5 from their 48. Wilson averted a sack by Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot and broke free in open field. Jaguars nickel safety Rudy Ford took a bad tackling angle and missed Wilson near the sideline near the Jaguars 35, and safety Andrew Wingard missed Wilson around the Jaguars 12 – allowing Wilson to score and give the Jets a 6-3 lead with 3:54 remaining in the first quarter. Jaguars defensive lineman Adam Gotsis blocked the extra point.
3. Get the ball!!! The Jaguars retook the lead in a back-and-forth sequence early in the second quarter – and did so in wild fashion. The Jaguars trailed 6-3 and drove to the Jets 3. On 1st-and-goal from there, Lawrence kept the ball on a read option and was being tackled when he fumbled after a hit by cornerback Jason Pinnick. The ball bounced into the end zone, where fourth-year offensive lineman Will Richardson Jr. fell on it for his first career NFL touchdown and a 9-6 Jaguars lead. "I don't feel great about it when it's because I fumbled, but I told him, 'Thanks for saving my butt there,'' Lawrence said. "Obviously fumbling on the one-yard line is not what you want to do, but I was happy for Will (Richardson Jr.). He was on the PAT team, so I had to take the ball over there to give it to one of our equipment managers to keep it for him. It's always cool getting to see those guys score, just fun. At the end of the day this is a game and it's fun to see those guys enjoy it. You don't want to do it that way, but hey we'll take it." The lead stayed at three after a failed two-point run up the middle by Jaguars running back Dare Ogunbowale, with the Jaguars opting to for two after an offsides penalty on the Jets moved the ball to the Jets 1. Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios returned the ensuing kickoff up the middle untouched for a 103-yard touchdown and a 13-9 Jets lead with 12:57 remaining in the second quarter.
4. Standing up. Late in the half the Jaguars, somewhat quietly, turned in a series that set the tone for the second half. The Jets steadily drove in the final minutes of the second quarter, with Wilson's 17-yard run turning 4th-and-2 from the 24 into 1st-and-goal at the Jaguars 7. The Jaguars' defense stiffened – and forced incomplete passes from Wilson on third and fourth down. The goal-line stand meant a 15-play, 70-yard drive by the Jets netted no points and meant the Jets led just 13-12 at halftime instead of 16-12 or 20-12. The Jaguars held the Jets again inside the five when a Jets fake field goal failed. They nearly had a third goal-line stand in the fourth quarter, but Wilson got away from defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton and Smoot and found offensive lineman Conor McDermott – who lined up eligible on the play – for a touchdown pass on 4th-and-goal from the 1. That gave the Jets a 23-15 lead with 9:15 remaining.
5. So close. The Jaguars came oh-so-close to their first victory in seven weeks Sunday – and fell short when the most impressive two-minute drive of Lawrence's short career came up just short. The Jaguars drove 74 yards on 11 plays to the Jets 1, with Lawrence completing four of five passes for 38 yards. He also ran once for 26 yards, but on 3rd-and-goal from the Jets 1 with :12 remaining, passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had Lawrence spike the ball to stop the clock. "That's all you can ask for," Lawrence said. "We've got to be better executing, on the same page. I was kind of with Schotty: Spike it and give us a chance to just think about what we really want to call, get us in a good situation." Lawrence on fourth down threw incomplete to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. "We got behind the play clock and tried to get everybody set and then we had two guys in motion," Lawrence said. "I had to snap it because it's fourth down, there was only three seconds when I started asking for the ball. It wasn't clean. For as clean as we played all day, to just be that chaotic on the last play is just something we can't do." Bevell agreed, saying: "We ended up spiking it to get the clocked stopped there on third down to try to get us into the best play and then we just didn't do a good job communicating and getting lined up on the last play. It should have given us plenty of time, but we didn't execute very well there."