JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars' lineup got a big, high-profile shakeup late Sunday morning.
As it turned out, there was little reason to worry.
With rookie running back Leonard Fournette out for a second consecutive game – this time because of an infraction of a team rule – and with their starting offensive line juggled because of injury, the Jaguars' dominating defense and improving offense combined to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-7, in front of 60,720 at EverBank Field Sunday afternoon.
It was the Jaguars' first victory at EverBank this season.
The Jaguars (5-3) also won consecutive games for the first time this season and remained in a first-place tie with Tennessee in the AFC South. The Jaguars had won in Weeks 1, 3, 5 and 7 before losing in Weeks 2, 4 and 6. The Jaguars beat the Colts, 27-0 on October 22 before their 2017 bye last week.
The Jaguars' defense held Cincinnati to 148 yards and eight first downs, and Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had one of his best games of the season – and of his career – completing 24 of 38 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
Bortles' three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marqise Lee gave the Jaguars a 10-0 second-quarter lead, and the Jaguars essentially clinched the victory with a 63-yard fourth-quarter punt return by wide receiver Jaydon Mickens.
Chris Ivory started in place of Fournette, and the Jaguars rushed for 149 yards as a team in the absence of the rookie running back who leads the team in rushing. Ivory rushed for 69 yards.
Fournette had missed the Jaguars' most recent game – a pre-bye week victory at Indianapolis – with an ankle injury.
The Jaguars also on Sunday played with starting center Brandon Linder starting at right guard and Tyler Shatley starting at center. Starting right guard A.J. Cann missed the game with a triceps injury. Linder had been out the last three games with an illness with Shatley starting at center in his place.
The Jaguars, who took a 13-7 halftime lead and pulled away in the second half, outgained the Bengals, 407-148. They also won for a second consecutive game despite not forcing a takeaway on defense. The Jaguars converted 12 of 18 third downs.
The Jaguars registered two sacks on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, with Jaguars end Calais Campbell registering his NFL-leading 11th sack of the season.
Dalton completed 10 of 18 passes for 136 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. Bengals running back Joe Mixon rushed for 31 yards and a first-half touchdown on seven carries.
Step by step:
*The Jaguars took a 3-0 lead on their second possession, moving 71 yards for a 32-yard field goal by Josh Lambo. Bortles passed 37 and 28 yards to tight end Marcedes Lewis and wide receiver Keelan Cole, respectively. Cole's catch was a spectacular one-hander and moved the Jaguars to the Bengals 17 on 3rd-and-12 from the Bengals 45.
*The Jaguars extended their lead to 10-0 in the second quarter, driving 96 yards for a three-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to Lee. Bortles completed six of nine passes on the drive for 58 yards, and Ivory rushed three times for 24 yards. The Jaguars had outgained the Bengals, 217-37 when Lee scored. The Bengals responded in clutch fashion to the touchdown, driving 80 yards on five plays with Dalton throwing 59 yards to tight end Tyler Kroft to set up a seven-yard by Mixon that cut the Jaguars' lead to 10-7 with 4:13 remaining in the half. Lambo converted from 56 yards with :28 remaining in the half to give the Jaguars a 13-7 lead.
*The Jaguars maintained control of the game early in the second half, extending their lead to 16-7 with a 23-yard field goal by Lambo with 6:51 remaining in the third quarter. They then took a 23-7 lead when Mickens returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown with 14:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Notable: Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green were both ejected following an altercation near the end of the first half. The two had been talking back and forth throughout the half, and Green appeared to attack Ramsey from behind after Ramsey shoved Green with two hands from behind. Green wrestled Ramsey to the ground by the neck and threw two punches before players from both sides turned the situation into a scrum. Green, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, had one reception for six yards at that point. … Abry Jones started at nose tackle Sunday with newly-acquired defensive tackle Marcell Dareus playing as a reserve; the Jaguars acquired Dareus for a 2018 sixth-round draft selection during the team's bye week. … The Jaguars held the Bengals without a score on their first drive; they have allowed just three first-drive points this season – a field goal at Pittsburgh. …
Injury report: Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. sustained an elbow injury in the second quarter on Kroft's 59-yard reception and returned. … Left tackle Cam Robinson (ankle) and Lee (knee) both started after being listed as questionable entering the weekend. Robinson left briefly Sunday with an ankle issue in the third quarter, but returned. … The Jaguars deactivated five players other than Fournette and Cann Sunday: Wide receiver Jaelen Strong, cornerback Tyler Patmon, offensive lineman Josh Walker, offensive lineman William Poehls and defensive tackle Sheldon Day.
What's next: The Jaguars play host to the Los Angeles Chargers at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.