JACKSONVILLE – Confidence was high.
That mattered to the Jaguars defensively Sunday, but what mattered as much was a feeling among the players that it was time. Maybe past time.
"We just got sick and tired of being sick and tired," cornerback Tyson Campbell said.
Sick and tired no more.
The Jaguars, after allowing the go-ahead touchdown in the final six minutes in four consecutive losses, came through defensively in a big way Sunday. They not only shut the Las Vegas Raiders out the entire second half, they held them scoreless on four potential fourth-quarter go-ahead drives in a 27-20 Jaguars victory at TIAA Bank Field.
"It means a lot," said defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot, who registered both of the Jaguars' sacks Sunday – one in the first quarter and one on the Raiders' final drive. "It shows on defense we have enough confidence to close it out.
"[Defensive lineman] Arden [Key] said it from the start, that it was going to come down to the last four minutes. That's what it did, and we were able to finish."
The Jaguars' defense took the field four times in the fourth quarter leading by a score or less. They forced two punts, forced a turnover on downs and registered a takeaway on the Raiders' final series when rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd intercepted a lateral.
Smoot said confidence in the fourth quarter was "way up," and the defense proved that confidence merited. The Jaguars, after allowing the Raiders 251 yards and 20 points on five first-half drives, allowed 70 yards and four first downs on five second-half drives, with the Raiders never advancing past the Jaguars 45.
Head Coach Doug Pederson called it "just a really good performance in the second half."
"We just regrouped at halftime," Pederson said. "I don't think there were a ton of changes, quite frankly. The guys were in position in the second half. That's part of what we're trying to teach these guys here and how to win and to stay within themselves— just do their job. In the second half they did that."
The key to the second half defensive performance was Campbell. With Campbell covering him much of the game, Raiders All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams caught nine passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
He caught one pass for no yards in the second half.
"We just made it about us," Campbell said. "All the mistakes we made; we were still in the game. We make our tackles, make the right plays and do our job each and every play, we can be in position to win the game. We played cleaner in the second half. We wanted to win. We wanted to finish strong. That's what we did.
"We just stayed hungry and got the job done."
- Running back Travis Etienne Jr. continued to emerge as the Jaguars' most productive offensive player Sunday, rushing for 109 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 28 carries. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last three games and Sunday was his second consecutive game with at least 24 carries. Etienne's previous high for carries this season had been 14. "I've been playing football my whole life," Etienne said. "I feel like if I didn't run tough, I wouldn't be here right now. That's the reality of it. I feel like every running back in the league is a tough runner. They drafted me for a reason. It's on me to go out there and produce. I get better as the game goes because the defense get tired."
- Pederson on Smoot, whose game-high two sacks Sunday give him a team-leading five through nine games this season: "He is a great player, and he has tremendous skill and ability and somebody that we lean on heavily to get after the passer. He did a nice job. You know, [he] did a great job of just sticking to his game plan and making some big plays, especially here at the end."
- Quarterback Trevor Lawrence: "It's not like the offense or defense had to carry us for this one. It was just everybody playing together. Being down 17-0 early, there was really no panic. We knew we were going to win that game. It was kind of go-time at that point."