Things were good for a long time. Really good, actually.
Things didn't quite last long enough.
The Jaguars took two first-half leads and another in the fourth quarter, but Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was good enough – and clutch enough – late Sunday. The result was a 24-20 Packers victory on a cold, blustery day at historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
"We came out there and we came up short," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said.
The Packers are now 7-2. The Jaguars (1-8) lost a seventh consecutive game after a Week 1 home victory over Indianapolis.
"We all expect better," Jaguars rookie quarterback Jake Luton said. "I feel like everyone feels like we are really close. We are proud of the way that we fight. It isn't a lack of effort by any means. I think everybody on both sides of the ball is busting their butts as hard as they can. It is just a matter of execution.
"Guys are upset. They want and expect better. We all do. I don't think there is any hanging of heads. There is just a personal expectation from each and every one of us to improve and put us in a situation to go win ballgames."
The Jaguars took first-half leads of 3-0 and 10-7 on a 52-yard field goal by kicker Chase McLaughlin and a 91-yard punt return by wide receiver Keelan Cole. Cole also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Jake Luton to tie the game, 17-17, in the third quarter.
The Jaguars then took a 20-17 lead with a 31-yard field goal by McLaughlin, but Rodgers -- whose 78-yard pass to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the first play of the second quarter gave the Packers their first lead – gave Green Bay a 24-20 lead with a six-yard pass to wide receiver Davante Adams with 9:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars took possession with 2:25 remaining at their 47 after a change of possessions and a short Green Bay punt – and trailed by the final margin. They drove to the Packers 36, but Luton's pass on 4th-and-26 fell incomplete to secure the Packers' victory. Packers linebacker Rashan Gary and Preston Smith registered back-to-back sacks on second and third down to force the long fourth down.
"It was rough," Luton said. "That is the situation that you want to be in. Your defense gives you a chance to go win a ball game and we couldn't execute. It hurts. We are going to have to go back and take a look at it, look at how we can improve.
"I think the defense did a great job. They put us in a position to win the game and we didn't pull through."
Rodgers, a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player who also ran for a five-yard touchdown in the second quarter Sunday, completed 24 of 34 passes for 325 yards and a two touchdowns with an interception.
Luton, making his second career start – his second start in as many weeks – completed 18 of 35 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He had passed for a touchdown and run for another in his NFL debut in a loss to Houston last week.
Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson rushed for 109 yards on 23 carries Sunday.
The Jaguars registered one sack on Rodgers – by rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton late in the first half. They also forced two third-quarter turnovers – one when cornerback CJ Henderson forced a fumble that led to Cole's game-tying reception in the third quarter and another when cornerback Sidney Jones IV's interception set up McLaughlin's go-ahead field goal.
"We just can't finish it," Cole said. "Obviously, we can come up with a lot of excuses, but at the end of the day, we line up in front of them and we have to finish it. Really, we just have to finish. We're starting to figure out how to come out, how to be consistent throughout the game, and then we have to figure out how to finish it through, not even in the fourth quarter but the last four minutes of the fourth quarter."
Step by step:
*The Jaguars controlled momentum in a low-scoring first quarter, outgaining the Packers 68-51 and leading 3-0 after the period. McLaughlin, activated Saturday, converted a 52-yard field goal with 10:36 remaining in the first quarter to cap the Jaguars' first possession; the Jaguars' forced a punt on the game's first possession, the Packers' first first-possession three-and-out this season.
*Rodgers gave the Packers their first lead when Valdes-Scantling beat cornerback Sidney Jones IV on a deep pass down the right sideline for 78 yards and a 7-3 Green Bay lead. The Jaguars responded with a stop on their ensuing defensive series – and with Cole's punt return for a touchdown that gave them their second lead, 10-7, with 10:06 remaining in the half; Cole's touchdown set a record for longest punt return in franchise history. Rodgers' rollout touchdown gave the Packers the lead again and capped an 81-yard driver. Green Bay pushed the lead to seven at halftime with Crosby's 39-yard field goal; safety Adrian Amos' interception that set up the field goal came on a play on which Jaguars tight end Tyler Eifert slipped to allow an easy interception.
*The Jaguars tied it 17-17 when Luton passed 12 yards to Cole with 10:30 remaining in the third quarter, a play set up when Henderson stripped Adams; linebacker Myles Jack returning the ensuing fumble to the Green Bay 16.
*McLaughlin's 31-yard field goal gave the Jaguars their first lead of the second half early in the fourth quarter; the series was set up by Jones' interception off Rodgers that gave the Jaguars possession at the Jaguars 44 late in the third quarter. The Packers retook the lead on the ensuing series with Rodgers' touchdown pass to Adams.
Notable: The Jaguars on Sunday were without starting center Brandon Linder (back) and starting wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) – and they also were without quarterback Gardner Minshew II (thumb) for a second consecutive week. Minshew missed a second consecutive game with a thumb injury. The Jaguars other inactive players Sunday: Linebacker Dakota Allen (ankle), running back Devine Ozigbo (hamstring), rookie defensive tackle Doug Costin (concussion) and rookie cornerback Luq Barcoo. Rookie Jake Luton made a second consecutive start in place of Minshew with Tyler Shatley starting at center for Linder and Chris Conley starting for Shenault. … With Costin out, defensive tackle Taven Bryan started.
Injury report: Jaguars running back Chris Thompson was cleared after being evaluated for a concussion in the first quarter; he remained out of the game with a back injury. … Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson sustained a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter and returned.