JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 34-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in a 2023 Week 13 game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville Monday
1. Slowly, but surely. The Jaguars had a chance on the first drive of overtime. Once they missed it, the Bengals did what they did so often Monday – drive through a Jaguars defense that couldn't get enough key stops at key times. The Jaguars' best chance in overtime came when quarterback C.J. Beathard – playing for injured starter Trevor Lawrence – completed a 43-yard pass to wide receiver Calvin Ridley on third-and-7 from the Cincinnati 45 for an apparent first down at the Bengals two. A holding penalty on right tackle Anton Harrison negated the play. The Bengals after a Jaguars punt drove 42 yards on 12 plays, with the key play an 11-yard pass from quarterback Jake Browning to wide receiver Tee Higgins on third-and-10 from the Bengals 47. Bengals kicker Evan McPherson's 48-yard field goal capped the drive for the winning points with 1:45 remaining in overtime.
2. Saaaaack – and a grinding drive. The Jaguars took a quick lead with an impressive drive – and they capped it with running back Travis Etienne's first rushing touchdown in five games. The Jaguars drove 51 yards on seven plays on their first drive Monday, with Etienne's four-yard touchdown giving them a 7-0 lead with 6:51 remaining in the first quarter. Lawrence keyed the drive with a 26-yard pass to wide receiver Christian Kirk on the first play of the drive and a two-yard sneak that converted fourth-and-one at the Bengals six-yard line. Outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker combined to sack Browning on fourth-and-three from the Jaguars 44 on the game's opening possession.
3. Rapid response. The Jaguars responded impressively – and quickly – Monday when the Bengals tied the game early in the second quarter on a six-yard touchdown run by running back Joe Mixon. The Jaguas on the ensuing possession used 10 plays to drive 72 yards, with Lawrence passing 22 yards to tight end Evan Engram for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 6:24 remaining in the half. Engram caught a short pass on the play, then accelerated down the left sideline and dove high into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season. Key on the drive: A 21-yard back-shoulder completion from Lawrence to Ridley for a first down at the Cincinnati 22 on the play just before Engram's touchdown.
4. Back-to-back misses. The Jaguars had an opportunity around halftime to take and extend the lead. Instead, they got no points and that set up a tight second half. After Mixon's two-yard touchdown run – his second touchdown of the game – tied the score 14-14, the Jaguars took possession at their 25 with 1:04 remaining. The possession netted just one first down before a Jaguars punt. The Jaguars then received the second-half kickoff but failed to pick up a first down before punting. A 76-yard touchdown pass from Browning to wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase three plays into the next possession gave the Bengals a 21-14 lead with 11:50 remaining in the third quarter.
5a. What.A. Catch. Jaguars rookie wide receiver Parker Washington took full advantage of his opportunity – and did so in spectacular, memorable fashion. Washington, a fifth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, played extensively Monday after Kirk left the game in the first quarter with a groin injury. Washington caught six passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in his first extensive opportunity with the Jaguars' offense with his biggest play coming in the third quarter. With the Jaguars trailing by seven, they drove to the Cincinnati 14. On third-and-nine from there, Lawrence threw into the back of the end zone. Bengals safety Dax Hill got his hands on the pass, but it bounced into the air. Washington caught the deflection and landed just in bounds for the first touchdown of his career that tied the game 21-21 with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter. "I thought Parker filled in nicely," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "He made some really nice plays for us. It's something he can build on."
5b. What.A.(Weird)Play. The Jaguars took the lead late in the third quarter on a wild sequence. On the first play of the series after Washington's touchdown, Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd threw back across the field and was intercepted by Allen. This gave the Jaguars first-and-goal at the Cincinnati nine. The Jaguars used four plays to take the lead, doing so when Lawrence reached the ball over the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the one. That gave the Jaguars a 28-21 lead with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter.