EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J – They never trailed, but they didn’t make it easy.
Quarterback Blake Bortles threw a touchdown and an interception, and linebacker Myles Jack returned a fourth-quarter interception 32 yards for a touchdown before the Jaguars held off a fourth-quarter rally for a 20-15 victory over the New York Giants in front of 77,992 at MetLife Stadium Sunday.
Jack’s interception return came with 11:24 remaining, and gave the Jaguars their largest lead of the game: 20-9.
Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown run two plays later cut the Jaguars lead to five, and the Giants drove to the Jaguars 36 at the two-minute warning.
Safety Barry Church broke up a pass from Giants quarterback Eli Manning to tight end Evan Engram just after the two-minute mark, and nickel back D.J. Hayden broke up a pass down the sideline to wide receiver Sterling Shepard on the next play. That turned the ball over on downs.
Jaguars linebacker Donald Payne recovered a muffed punt in the final minute to secure the victory.
The Jaguars held the Giants to 324 total yards offense, 229 in the second half. The Jaguars produced 305 yards offense and scored their only offensive touchdown on a one-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to running back T.J. Yeldon in the second quarter.
Bortles completed 18 of 33 passes for 176 yards, overcoming an early interception that led to a Giants field goal with back-to-back scoring drives on the ensuing two possessions.
The Jaguars also overcame the first-half loss of running back Leonard Fournette.
Fournette, after rushing for 41 yards on nine carries, left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. Bortles led a 57-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession, throwing passes of 20 and 17 yards to wide receiver Dede Westbrook and capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Yeldon with 2:42 remaining in the first half. The Jaguars led 13-3 at that point and 13-6 at halftime.
Yeldon, who set up his touchdown reception with a 15-yard, tackle-breaking run to the one-yard line, rushed for 51 yards on 14 carries. The Jaguars finished with 137 yards rushing.
Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo converted a pair of 39-yard first-half field goals, with Giant kicker Aldrick Rosas converting from 27 and 31 yards.
Manning completed 23 of 37 passes for 224 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. Barkley rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries in his first NFL start after being the No. 2 overall selection in last April’s ’18 draft.
Giants All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught 11 passes for 111 yards while being covered some of the game by Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Beckham drew interference penalties on Ramsey and Jaguars safety Barry Church to set up a Giants field goal late in the first half.
The Jaguars finished with two sacks: one by defensive end Calais Campbell, one by defensive end Lerentee McCray.
Step by step:
*Lambo’s 39-yard field goal capped an 11-play, 59-yard game-opening drive and gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead with 10:12 remaining in the first quarter. The Jaguars stuffed the Giants’ first series, but Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Bortles at the Giants 37 with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter. That set up the Giants’ first score – a 27-yard field goal by Rosas that made it 3-3 with :23 remaining in the second quarter.
*The Jaguars retook the lead midway through the second quarter with Lambo’s second 39-yard field goal; this one gave the Jaguars a 6-3 lead and came with 7:19 remaining in the half, capping a 15-play, 54-yard drive that consumed 8:04. They then pushed the lead to 13-3 on the possession after Fournette left, with Yeldon catching the one-yard touchdown pass from Bortles on a quick play-action fake with 2:42 remaining in the half; Bortles had passes of 20 and 17 yards to Westbrook on the drive, and Yeldon’s 15-yard run gave the Jaguars 1st-and-goal at the 1. Rosas’ 27-yard field goal cut the Jaguars’ lead to 13-6 with :04 remaining in the half.
*Rosas’ third field goal – a 44-yarder – cut the Jaguars’ lead to 13-9 with 9:18 remaining, and the Jaguars got a huge stop on the Giants’ next possession when safety Tashaun Gipson stopped Barkley for a one-yard gain on 4th-and-2 from the Jaguars 37-yard line. The quarter ended with the Jaguars holding that lead.
*Jack’s 32-yard interception return gave the Jaguars a 20-9 lead with 11:24 remaining in the fourth quarter; defensive tackle Abry Jones tipped a pass after defensive end Yannick Ngakoue forced Manning forward in the pocket. Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown run came two plays later and cut the Jaguars lead to 20-15.
Notable: When Lambo converted a 39-yard first-quarter field goal, it marked his 12th consecutive field goal and his 20th in 21 attempts with the team. … When the Jaguars forced the Giants to punt on their first possession it marked the 24th time in the last 25 games the Jaguars had not allowed a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. … All Jaguars players ruled out an hour and a half before kickoff Sunday were healthy inactives: Wide receiver Rashad Greene Sr., defensive tackle Michael Bennett, nose tackle Eli Ankou, defensive end Dawuane Smoot, offensive guard Chris Reed, offensive lineman Josh Walker and offensive tackle Will Richardson Jr.
Injury report: Fournette left with a second-quarter hamstring injury and did not return.
What’s next: The Jaguars are scheduled to play the New England Patriots at TIAA Bank Field Sunday, September 16, 4:25 p.m.