MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Strong all week, strong on game day.
That was the story for the Jaguars' defense this week, and that was a primary storyline early Saturday afternoon.
The defense was dominant early in what became a 14-10 Jaguars victory in the second game of the 2018 preseason Saturday. A first unit playing without three starters shut down a talented Minnesota Vikings offense featuring high-profile unrestricted free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins.
"The defense did a good job," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said at halftime.
Jaguars reserve running back Brandon Wilds' one-yard touchdown run with 1:55 remaining gave the Jaguars the winning points in front 66,637 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Jaguars are now 1-1 in the '18 preseason. The Vikings are 1-1 in the preseason.
Much of the Jaguars' first-team defense and offense played through halftime. The Vikings converted one field goal in that span – a 44-yarder by Kai Forbath that gave Minnesota a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Cousins, one of the NFL's biggest offseason free-agent signings, completed three of eight passes for 12 yards. The Jaguars led 7-3 when Cousins left the game early in the second quarter.
The Vikings had 67 yards at halftime, when the Jaguars still led 7-3.
"Defensively, I think we did a good job, especially on third down, but I still think we had some things [we have to improve on]," Marrone said. "We missed some tackles. We have to improve on that."
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, playing through halftime with most of the first-team offense, led extended drives on two possessions after an early interception.
Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette capped a long drive with a one-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter, and a long drive on the Jaguars' ensuing possession ended with kicker Josh Lambo missing a 56-yard field-goal attempt.
Bortles completed 12 of 20 passes for 159 yards and no touchdowns with an interception. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue had a sack and a forced fumble for the Jaguars, with safety Ronnie Harrison also forcing a fumble. End Calais Campbell recovered a fumble and cornerback Tyler Patmon and safety Barry Church both had early pass breakups for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars were penalized 10 times for 110 yards in the first half and finished with 13 penalties for 140 yards.
"I think early on, the first thing overall as a team, is the penalties," Marrone said. "We have to do a better job of that from an offensive standpoint. … We just have to play well and we have to play within the rules and give ourselves a chance."
The game capped a week in which the Jaguars and Vikings held joint practices Wednesday and Thursday at the Vikings' practice facility in Eagan, Minn. The Jaguars' defense – which ranked second in the NFL in yards allowed last season – was impressive during those two sessions as well.
Step by step:
*Forbath's 44-yard field goal gave Minnesota the early lead with 7:17 remaining in the first quarter. The Jaguars overcame an interception by Vikings safety Harrison Smith that gave Minnesota a first down at the Jaguars 23 when Ngakoue forced a fumble by Latavius Murray that Campbell recovered at the Jaguars 30. The Jaguars moved into scoring range with a long drive that ran out the quarter.
*Fournette's one-yard run on 4th-and-goal from the 1 gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter, with Fournette's power capping a 12-play, 70-yard drive that consumed 6:25. The half ended that way, with Lambo missing from 56 yards and Forbath missing from 41 in the second quarter.
*The Vikings took a 10-7 lead with running back Mike Boone scored on a one-yard run with 4:23 remaining in the third quarter.
*Fourth-year wide receiver Rashad Greene set up the Jaguars' winning touchdown with a 56-yard punt return. Wilds' touchdown came two plays later.
Sparano honored: The Vikings before the game honored former offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who died suddenly on July 19. The team followed a moment of silence in Sparano's honor with a video in tribute of Sparano, who served as the Jaguars' tight ends coach in 2002. Sparano's son, Tony Sparano, Jr., is an assistant offensive line coach for the Jaguars. Sparano Jr., and his mother – Jeanette – were among the honorary captains representing the Sparano family for Saturday's coin toss. …
Injury report: Jaguars center Brandon Linder sustained a first-quarter knee injury and did not return; Tyler Shatley played in his place at center. … Jaguars reserve safety Don Carey sustained a third-quarter hamstring injury. … Jaguars guard Chris Reed sustained a third-quarter knee injury and was probable to return.
Notable: The Jaguars wore their new all-white uniforms – white jerseys and white pants – Saturday after wearing teal jerseys and white pants in the preseason opener. … Twelve Jaguars players were ruled out Saturday: Starting cornerback Jalen Ramsey, safety Cody Davis, starting safety Tashaun Gipson, nose tackle Eli Ankou, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., linebacker Brooks Ellis, guard Andrew Norwell, right tackle Jermey Parnell, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, defensive lineman Taven Bryan, defensive end Dawuane Smoot and starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. … Rookie Ronnie Harrison started for Gipson with Josh Wells starting for Parnell, Chris Reed starting for Norwell, James O'Shaughnessy starting for Seferian-Jenkins and Abry Jones starting for Dareus. … Ankou and Smoot did not make the trip to Minnesota for a week that featured two joint practices against the Vikings Wednesday. … Fowler and Ramsey missed while serving a one-game team suspension and are expected to return to the team Monday.
What's next: The Jaguars will play host to the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field Saturday at 7 p.m.