LANDOVER, Md. – The start was rocky. The rest was gutsy and wild.
And really, really dramatic.
It all meant an entertaining – and disappointing – start to a new era. In Doug Pederson's first game as head coach, the Jaguars rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit for an eight-point fourth-quarter lead in what became a 28-22 loss to the Washington Commanders in the 2022 regular-season opener at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon.
"If you look at this game today, we beat ourselves," Pederson said, adding: "It's just finish. It's just finish, finish, finish of the game: Finish a play, finish a series, finish a drive. They're all teachable moments, and that's what we're going to do as a staff: We're going to teach these guys."
Quarterback Carson Wentz passed 24 yards to rookie wide receiver Jahan Dotson to give the Commanders a 26-22 lead with 1:46 remaining. Wentz passed to J.D. McKissic on the ensuing two-point conversion.
That was the second of two touchdown passes for Wentz after the Jaguars took an eight-point fourth-quarter lead.
"We've got to finish," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "We got ourselves to the point where we could win the game, but you've got to go win. They're not going to hand it to you."
Commanders safety Darrick Forest intercepted Lawrence with 1:10 remaining to cap a game that turned dramatic early in the fourth quarter.
"We made some costly mistakes at the wrong time," Pederson said. "Games come down to three-to-five plays every week. We have to finish better and take care of those little things.
"There are a lot of positives and things we can take away and learn from."
The fourth quarter was wild from the start.
First, Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell intercepted Wentz – a play that led to a Jaguars field goal and a 15-14 lead. Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker intercepted Wentz on the ensuing series, with running back James Robinson's 11-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play pushing the lead to 22-14.
Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin got behind Jaguars cornerback Shaq Griffin for a 49-yard touchdown pass from Wentz on the ensuing series to cut the lead to 22-20 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
"We know we messed up and we're going to correct it," veteran outside linebacker Josh Allen said. "This is not a setback for us. This is not how it's going to be. This team was built to win and we're going to win."
Said Walker: "We did things to hurt ourselves. We just want to continue to grow from that and work on that when we get back into the office."
The Jaguars, after trailing 14-3 at halftime, rallied to within 14-12 late in the third quarter with a touchdown pass from Lawrence to Robinson and a field goal by Riley Patterson
Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft entering his second season as a starter, completed 24 of 42 passes for 275 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk caught six passes for 117 yards in his regular-season debut with the team.
Wentz, acquired from the Indianapolis Colts in an offseason trade, completed 27 of 41 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
The Jaguars registered one sack – by Walker. The defense also produced three takeaway – inside linebacker Foye Oluokun recovering a fumble in the first half and Campbell and Walker each intercepting passes in the fourth quarter.
"I learned a long time ago in this league: There are no moral victories," Pederson said. "We're going to show them. We're going to be honest with them. We're going to learn how to finish. We're going to learn how to practice better, meet better, study better.
"Whatever it is we're going to do and try to put ourselves in position to win more of these games than we lose."
Step by step:
- The Jaguars led 3-0 after a 33-yard field goal by Patterson on the game's opening drive; a 25-yard pass from Lawrence to Kirk to the 50 and a 22-yard run by Robinson to the Commanders 13 keyed the 66-yard drive. Washington took the lead on the ensuing possession, with Wentz capping a 74-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Curtis Samuel for a 7-3 lead with 7:36 remaining in the first quarter.
- Washington pushed its lead to double digits – 14-3 – on the first drive of the second quarter, with Wentz capping a 14-play, 71-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Dotson. A roughing-the-passer penalty on Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot on 3rd-and-10 two plays before the touchdown extended the drive. The Jaguars drove 68 yards to the Commanders 3 with 4:59 remaining in the half, but a short pass from Lawrence to running back Travis Etienne on 4th-and-goal from there was incomplete and Washington retained an 11-point lead. The Jaguars missed a second consecutive red-zone opportunity on their next possession when Patterson missed off the right upright with :16 remaining in the half.
- The Jaguars cut the lead 14-9 on their first drive of the second half, with Lawrence passing three yards to Robinson to cap a six-play, 80-yard drive with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter; Lawrence keyed the drive with passes of 49 and 13 yards to Kirk to take the Jaguars to the Commanders 3. A 43-yard field goal by Patterson trimmed the Commanders' lead to 14-12 with 1:16 remaining in the third quarter.
- Patterson followed Campbell's interception with a 45-yard field goal with 12:04 remaining. Walker, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, intercepted Wentz on the next play and returned it nine yards to the Commanders 11. Robinson's 11-yard run on the ensuing play pushed the lead to 22-14, with McLaurin's touchdown cutting the lead to two with 9:36 remaining.
- Notable: James Robinson started at running back for the Jaguars, his first game after missing the preseason and the final two games of last regular season with an Achilles injury. … Defensive end Foley Fatukasi was active for the Jaguars after being listed as questionable on the Jaguars' final injury report of the week Friday with a calf injury. The Jaguars' five inactives Sunday: Wide receiver Kendric Pryor, safety Daniel Thomas, running back Snoop Conner, cornerback Montaric Brown and outside linebacker De'Shaan Dixon. …
View more Week 1 game highlights here.
View real-time game photos of the Jacksonville Jaguars 2022 NFL Regular Season opener against the Washington Commanders.