JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' 27-23 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the 2016 regular-season opener at EverBank Field Sunday – with an eye on reaction to the Jaguars' final offensive play
Blake Bortles' initial reaction was honest.
"Obviously, I'm irritated," the Jaguars' quarterback said in the aftermath of a 27-23 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday.
A primary source of irritation: A 4th-and-1 play with 23 seconds remaining on which Bortles went to the line with a run-pass option. Based on the look of the defense, Bortles opted for a screen pass to wide receiver Allen Hurns. Hurns was tackled by a swarm of defenders.
Hurns lost one yard and the Jaguars turned the ball over on downs.
"We kind of knew that was what they were going to do," Bortles said, adding that he anticipated an aggressive Packers blitz on the play. "They are a big 'bring-the-house' team, so we just have to execute. I should have done something differently. "
The Jaguars drove from their 37 to the Packers 14, where they faced 3rd-and-1 after Bortles completed a nine-yard pass to second-year wide receiver Rashad Greene. Bortles threw incomplete in the middle of the field on third down, then threw a quick screen to Hurns on the right side of the field.
Hurns was tackled by cornerback Damarious Randall.
"I just have to find a way," Hurns said. "When it comes down to it, they executed well and I have to try harder to get the first down. … Fourth and one, I have to finish it. Fourth and one, you have to find a way."
Bortles completed 24 of 39 passes for 320 yards and a perfect 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas for the game. He also was intercepted on the game's first drive, a pass that was thrown slightly behind wide receiver Marqise Lee and intercepted off the deflection by Packers linebacker Joe Thomas.
"Things were going up and down," Bortles said. "We had adversity, and some things went well – and offensively, I thought we played our tails off and battled throughout until the end of the game, but we just have to find a way to get it done on fourth down."
Images from the Jaguars Week 1 matchup with the Green Bay Packers.
Fourth downs on Sunday gaveth – and they also tooketh away for the Jaguars. Before the failed 4th-and-1 attempt on the final drive, the Jaguars converted three fourth-down situations. That included two fourth-down conversions on a fourth-quarter field goal drive and also included an eight-yard reception by Allen Robinson on 4thand-5 on a second-quarter field goal drive. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said the team determined before the game it wanted to be aggressive in certain fourth-down situations. "It's good," Bortles said. "He [Bradley] said early in the week that he wanted to be aggressive and obviously showed that in some of the calls he allowed us to go out and stay on the field. I thought the guys did a good job, obviously other than the last play, of staying on the field."
Although Bortles' first-quarter interception was thrown slightly behind Lee, the third-year wide receiver said afterward he should have made the reception. "That was my fault, honestly," Lee said. "I could have caught it three times on one play. I told Blake I should have caught it, so I put that one on me." The interception led directly to the Packers' first touchdown – a 6-yard touchdown run by Rodgers.
The Jaguars played without running back Chris Ivory, who was hospitalized Sunday morning for what the team announced as a "general medical issue." Ivory had been limited with a calf issue in practice last week, but Sunday's issue was not related to that. Ivory had been expected to share carries with T.J. Yeldon, who was held to 39 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. "It definitely put a lot more on T.J. (Yeldon)," Bortles said. "I thought he did well and Denard (Robinson) got a chance to come in and do some things as well. From T.J. coming in and taking over more of the workload, I thought he did well. We definitely would have loved to have Chris, but things happen. "
Perhaps the game's most memorable play came late in the first half. That was when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a perfect, 29-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dante Adams. Rodgers threw as he was being pulled off balance by a blitzing Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Adams caught the pass after the ball sailed just under the outstretched arm of cornerback Davon House, who had otherwise perfect coverage. "I think I was in great position, but I guess not good enough," House said. "Aaron scrambled and I turned to my man and just played my man. As soon as I turned to him, that's when he [Rodgers] must've threw it up. I stuck my arm in there, but he still caught it." Rodgers finished with 199 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-34 passing. "He did what he does best, which is improvising and making plays," Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson said. "That's why he's one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League."
"We did some great things in there. We did a good job of controlling Aaron. I think he only had 200 yards passing or something like that, which is good. I think we did a good job of stuffing the run. On the other hand, we need to improve on our penalties. We had way too many and they hurt us in key situations."
"We didn't win. That's all that matters in this league."
--Jaguars offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum