JACKSONVILLE – They started as hot as the day, then hung on.
That was more than enough for the Jaguars against the defending AFC Champions on a sweltering, memorable mid-September day.
Quarterback Blake Bortles threw four touchdown passes in record temperatures, and the Jaguars held off the beginnings of second-half rally for a 31-20 victory over the New England Patriots in front of an announced 68,527 fans at TIAA Bank Field Sunday afternoon.
The game began in 97-degree temperatures with a 107-degree heat index, making it the hottest NFL game since 2003 and the hottest game in Jaguars and Patriots history.
The Jaguars (2-0) never trailed and led by double digits for the final 47:10. The Patriots slipped to 1-1.
Bortles completed 29 of 45 passes for 377 yards with touchdown passes to wide receivers Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief and Dede Westbrook and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Bortles threw a fourth-quarter interception.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 24 of 35 passes for 234 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Key plays came in the fourth quarter.
With a 21-point third-quarter Jaguars lead having dwindled to 24-13, the Patriots faced 3rd-and-9 at the Jaguars 24 after the Jaguars' second turnover in three possessions. Jaguars fourth-year defensive end Dante Fowler got pressure on the edge and knocked the ball free from Brady.
Fowler fell on the fumble to give the Jaguars possession at their 32. The Jaguars punted on the ensuing possession, but instead of a field-goal attempt the Patriots took possession at their 9.
The Jaguars stopped the Patriots on that drive, then Bortles followed that with one of the biggest plays in his career.
On 1st-and-10 from the Jaguars 39 after a Patriots punt, Bortles found Westbrook open around midfield. Westbrook turned the play into a 61-yard, game-clinching, catch-and-run touchdown.
Jaguars starting running back Leonard Fournette missed the game with a hamstring injury sustained in a victory over the New York Giants last Sunday. T.J. Yeldon started in his place, rushing for 58 yards on 10 carries. Corey Grant and Brandon Wilds also played running back for the Jaguars Sunday, with Wilds signed from the practice squad Saturday.
Cole caught seven passes for 116 yards and a first-quarter touchdown.
Step by step:
*Moncrief's four-yard fade pass from Bortles capped a nine-play, 56-yard drive that gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead with 7:46 remaining in the first quarter. That came immediately after Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski's 54-yard field goal attempt missed wide right to end the Patriots' drive on the game-opening possession. The Jaguars drove immediately for another touchdown after a Patriots three-and-out possession, with Bortles capping that drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Cole; Cole highlighted that drive with a highlight-reel, one-handed 22-yard reception for a big early first down. The Jaguars' 14-0 lead marked the Patriots' largest deficit after the first quarter since 2013.
*An early Jaguars second-quarter drive ended just inside Patriots territory, with a hands-to-the-face penalty on Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell negating a first down at the Patriots 35. The Patriots drove on their ensuing possession to cut the Jaguars' lead to 14-3 with a 29-yard field goal by Gostkowski; that 16-play drive consumed 8:20 and covered 83 yards. The Jaguars then pushed the lead to 21-3 with a drive just before halftime that covered 75 yards and ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to Seferian-Jenkins that gave the Jaguars a 21-3 halftime lead.
*The Jaguars pushed the lead to 24-3 early in the third quarter with a 28-yard field goal by Josh Lambo, then gave the Patriots a short field when rookie wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. lost a fumble after a first-down converting pass from Bortles. Brady converted the opportunity with a seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Hogan to cut the lead to 24-10, with the quarter ending with the Patriots at the Jaguars 6 after a short punt.
*After the Jaguars stretched the lead to 31-13, Brady threw a second touchdown pass to Hogan – this one from 29 yards – to cut the lead to 31-20 with 3:40 remaining.
Notable: The Jaguars held the Patriots scoreless on their first possession when Gostkowski missed from 54 yards; Jaguars opponents have scored an opening-drive touchdown just once in the last 26 games. … Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell played Sunday after being announced questionable with a knee injury Sunday morning. … The Jaguars' other six game-day inactives – linebacker Leon Jacobs, nose tackle Eli Ankou, guard Chris Reed, defensive end Dawuane Smoot, offensive tackle Will Richardson Jr. and offensive lineman Josh Walker – all were "healthy scratches." Jacobs is the Jaguars' starting strong-side linebacker, but he played just 11 snaps against the Giants in Week 1 whereas safety Ronnie Harrison played 17 plays against the Giants in the Jaguars' "big-nickel" package and nickel cornerback D.J. Hayden played 43 plays in the regular nickel package. Those three players typically substitute in and out for one another, so Jacobs may be inactive when the Jaguars believe the base package won't be used extensively. …
Injury report: Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson left with a left knee injury midway through the second quarter and did not return; Josh Wells replaced him at left tackle. … Campbell left with an eye injury in the third quarter and returned. … Jaguars wide receiver Donte Moncrief left in the third quarter with a knee injury.
What's next:The Jaguars are scheduled to play the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m.