JACKSONVILLE – There was little attention paid the last time the New York Giants came to Jacksonville in 2014. They were suffering through a six-game losing streak while the Jaguars were going through the growing pains of a rookie quarterback and had lost four consecutive games.
Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin's return was a storyline during the week, as usual, and there was little doubt after the first half he had his Giants ready to play the team he coached from 1995-2002.
The Jaguars possessed the ball just once in the first quarter.
That was because Giants quarterback Eli Manning directed a 19-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that featured former Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. – and ended with Jennings' first touchdown run of the game.
The Jaguars then went three and out for a second consecutive possession, using only 17 seconds of the game clock.
Manning took over near midfield, passed to running back Andre Williams on a wheel route for 18 yards, then passed down the seam to tight end Larry Donnell for 32 more. A short pass from Manning to Preston Parker made it 14-0, with the Jaguars having run six plays in the game's first 18 minutes.
It got worse for the Jaguars with another three and out taking only 1:15. After Jennings' second touchdown, Coughlin beamed on the sidelines with his team playing the efficient style he preached constantly.
Jaguar quarterback Blake Bortles finally figured things out just before halftime, with a field goal by kicker Josh Scobee cutting the Giants' lead to 21-3 at halftime.
The Jaguars cut further into the lead when linebacker Geno Hayes raced past offensive tackle Justin Pugh and sacked Manning at the Giants 8-yard line, forcing a fumble for linebacker J.T. Thomas to scoop and score. Coughlin wasn't smiling despite a 21-10 lead. There was something about "careless disregard for the football" that did that to him.
The Jaguars' defense stymied the Giants thereafter. After a 16-yard by running back Denard Robinson on a direct snap, Bortles threw a beauty of pass to rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee down the Giants sideline for a 30-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 21-16. Coughlin was fuming and would get madder.
On the next drive, Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz forced a fumble by Donnell that Jaguars rookie cornerback Aaron Colvin returned 41 yards down the Giants sideline to give Jacksonville an improbable fourth-quarter lead.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's defense was balling, and Coughlin was furious.
He calmed a big when kicker Josh Brown's 33-yard field goal returned the lead to the Giants with 3:30 remaining. To that point, Bortles looked every bit like a rookie, and Coughlin had to believe his defense would deliver the win.
Bortles passed 22 yards to Lee to convert first-and-20 from the Jaguars 20, after which Bortles alternated between running back Jordan Todman and tight end Marcedes Lewis and even took it around the end himself for 11 yards. Could the rookie find a way to a come-from-behind win?
They were close to field goal range, but Bradley wanted a better shot. Bortles called his own number around the left end and ran 20 yards past – you guessed it – the Giants sideline setting up Scobee's game-winning field goal.
The home crowd celebrated the rare win. Those Jaguars would finish the season with only three.