JACKSONVILLE – Gardner Minshew II couldn't find the right words.
This was understandable, because the Jaguars' rookie quarterback had been asked to explain something teammates later described as inexplicable.
So, instead of discussing precisely how he somehow evaded pressure long enough for wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. to somehow work his way open and somehow make a game-clinching touchdown reception in the front of the end zone …
Well, instead of explaining, Minshew just smiled.
"I don't know man … kind of just blacked out on that one," he said shortly after the Jaguars' 29-15 victory over the New York Jets at TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville.
Minshew, making his seventh career start in place of injured starter Nick Foles (broken clavicle), improved to 4-3 as a starter by completing 22 of 34 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He did so not only with escapability and creativity, but with poise and accuracy against an aggressive Jets defense.
"He's great, man," Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson said. "We love what he's been able to bring to us, getting out of the pocket and able to do a lot of things. I mean he's been great, just what we needed. When Nick went down, he didn't blink. He stepped in and he's been great for us."
Minshew on Sunday became the first player in NFL history to throw at least 13 touchdown passes while throwing two or fewer touchdowns in his first eight games played.
Sunday's performance was highlighted by multiple plays on which he escaped pressure to create big play. One play was a 70-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Conley, and another was the touchdown pass to Chark on third-and-goal from the eight with 4:13 remaining.
"That was crazy because I was yelling, 'Throw the ball! Throw the ball!" because I didn't know what was happening and then I saw that," center Brandon Linder said. "That son of a [expletive], Minshew. That's crazy. He's a gunslinger. Me and Cam looked at each other and started laughing."
Said Chark: "Anytime we're in the red zone, and Gardner gets to scrambling, I try to squeeze through everybody and find him, and he has a good eye for that – but just try to find an open spot where I can get to so he can make the throw. …
"He is going to make something happen. You just have to be able to get open and help him make something happen, and that's what we do. He's going to make a play."
Head Coach Doug Marrone after the game was asked what he will do when Foles is eligible to return against Indianapolis November 17. He answered by relaying a pre-game conversation with New York Post columnist Mark Cannizzaro.
"He asks me the same question, 'Hey, what are you going to do?''' Marrone said.
Marrone said he told Cannizzaro that he had no reason to waste time worrying now about a question he doesn't yet need to answer. The Jaguars play the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday, then have a bye week before the November 17 game at Indianapolis.
"I said, 'If we didn't have a bye after the Texans game, I think somewhere along the line next week, I would start going through that in my mind,''' Marrone said. "Since we have the bye, there's so many things that can happen between now and then – whether injuries come into play with either quarterback or whatever may happen – so I'm not going to waste my time.
"I really haven't thought about it. The reason why is because I don't have to, and I don't want to. I'll deal with it when it happens. And that's the truth."
The Jaguars' recent run of takeaways continued Sunday, with the team registering three interceptions to give it seven forced fumbles in the last two games. The Jaguars' cornerbacks had their first three interceptions of the season Sunday, with cornerback A.J. Bouye's 25-yard interception return setting up Minshew's game-clinching touchdown to Chark and with cornerback Tre Herndon registering his first two interceptions of the season. Herndon has been targeted often by opposing quarterbacks and coordinators since taking over as the starter for now-departed All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. "That's something you've got to own up to and embrace it; got to embrace that when it comes, make the plays," Herndon said. The Jaguars, after registering two takeaways in the first six games of the season, now have nine for the season. They had three interceptions and a fumble recovery against Cincinnati last week.
Marrone on a Jaguars rush defense that held Jets running back Le'Veon Bell to 23 yards on nine carries: "I think we did a good job of stopping the run again. I think we did a hell of a job against a great running back like Le'Veon Bell. At the end of the day, I thought we did a good job. Especially for us, if we can get the run game stopped, it's always helped us."
Bouye: "We were talking about it all week – you know, me, [linebacker Myles Jack], some of the other guys … just the vibe, the energy these past two weeks, just feels way different. And we're appreciative of that – the guys, the coaches, the players just buy in and keep going."
Marrone on Minshew: "He does not play like he was brought into this league, a sixth-round draft pick or something like that. He doesn't play like that."
Chark: "We knew what was at stake when we were 2-4. Every week, every day, everybody comes in and goes to work, no matter what happens that Sunday, and we get ready for the next week. We challenge each other and we challenge ourselves."