CINCINNATI, Ohio – So close.
So very, very close.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence narrowly lost a matchup of No. 1 selections and running back James Robinson rushed for two touchdowns as the Jaguars fell just short in a 24-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in front of 63,198 at Paul Brown Stadium Thursday.
"We're getting better every week," Lawrence said. "Obviously, that's heartbreaking – that loss. But we're getting better."
Bengals kicker Evan McPherson's 35-yard field goal was good as time expired in a matchup played on Thursday Night Football.
"It's devastating, heartbreaking," Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer said. "I'm not wrong about stuff like that and I see a good team in there. I see good guys. I see good hearts. I see guys that work. I told them, 'I'm not wrong.' I'm not wrong on that stuff.
"This team's going to win some games."
The Jaguars (0-4) extended their franchise-record 19-game losing streak that dates to September of 2020.
Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, completed 17 of 24 passes for 204 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. He ran for a first-half touchdown that gave the Jaguars a 14-0 halftime lead.
"He's coming alive," Meyer said of Lawrence. "I love everything about that guy."
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, completed 25 of 32 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He led two quick third-quarter drives that tied it with a little more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Both teams had dominant stretches to that point, with the Jaguars outgaining the Bengals 240-107 at halftime and the Bengals outgaining Jacksonville 155-3 to start the second half.
"It's a hard pill to swallow because when you go out and fight a hard game like that you expect to walk away with a win and not an 'L,''' defensive tackle Malcom Brown said. "You have to swallow that pill and go back to work. That's all we can do – keep on working at it."
It was back and forth after the Bengals tied it in the third quarter, Robinson – whose six-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead – scoring on a four-yard run to give the Jaguars the lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals tied it 21-21 on the ensuing series with Burrow's second touchdown pass of the game to tight end C.J. Uzomah – this one 31 for yards with just under nine minutes remaining.
The Jaguars registered one sack Thursday, with defensive lineman Adam Gotsis registering his second sack of the season in the second quarter.
Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. caught six passes for 99 yards. Robinson rushed 18 times for 78 yards.
"We definitely play good enough to win the game," Lawrence said. "Hats off to the Bengals for executing that last drive (that led to McPherson's field goal) and hitting the game-winner. It's tough. We're getting better and learning a lot. But gosh, we should have won that game."
Step by step:
- Robinson capped the Jaguars' second possession with a six-yard, cutback run up the middle for a 7-0 lead with 1:28 remaining in the quarter; Lawrence completed a 17-yard pass to newly acquired tight end Dan Arnold for a first down at the Bengals 6 and Lawrence also scrambled for an 11-yard gain to the Bengals 35.
- The Jaguars pushed their lead to 14-0 with a dominant start to the second quarter, first stopping a Bengals drive in Cincinnati territory. Lawrence's seven-yard run after faking a handoff gave the Jaguars a two-touchdown lead with 4:45 remaining in the second quarter and capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive. The Jaguars missed a chance to extend the lead to 17-0 or 21-0, driving to Bengals 1 before Lawrence was stopped on a fourth-and-goal run from the Bengals 1. A 52-yard pass from Lawrence to Shenault had moved the Jaguars to the Bengals.
- The Bengals cut into the Jaguars' lead early with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to Uzomah with 13:12 remaining in the third quarter; Burrow's 44-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase to the Jaguars 25 set up the touchdown. Running back Joe Mixon's one-yard run tied it 14-14 with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter, with Mixon's run coming nine plays after Burrow passed 25 yards to wide receiver Trenton Irwin to give the Bengals a first down at the Jaguars 48.
- Robinson's four-yard run capped a 77-yard drive immediately after Mixon's touchdown, giving the Jaguars a 21-14 lead with 14:27 remaining. Burrow's 31-yard touchdown pass to Uzomah 31 pass with 8:59 remaining tied it 21-21.
- Running back Carlos Hyde, a reserve in Weeks 1-3, was among six players made inactive by the Jaguars 90 minutes before kickoff Friday. Hyde's shoulder bothered him upon reporting to Paul Brown Stadium Thursday and he was subsequently deactivated.
- The Jaguars' other inactives Thursday: defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (ankle), kicker Josh Lambo, defensive end/linebacker Jordan Smith, defensive tackle Jay Tufele and cornerback Nevin Lawson. Lambo, who missed all three of his field-goal attempts in the first three games of the season – and who missed two of three extra points in a Week 3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals – was inactive after missing practice Tuesday and Wednesday for personal reasons. Matthew Wright, signed to the practice squad Monday and elevated from the practice squad Thursday morning, kicked for the Jaguars Thursday.
Check out these top action photos from the Jacksonville Jaguars Week 4, Thursday Night Football, matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.