JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 26-0 victory over the Carolina Panthers in a 2023 Week 17 game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville Sunday
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…
- Beautifully methodical. The idea was to win; style points mattered not a bit. The Jaguars, after committing 10 turnovers in the last three games – and with quarterback Trevor Lawrence missing his first NFL career start – took the approach of ending all possessions with a kick Sunday. That methodical approach yielded first-half field goals of 35, 26 and 24 yards by kicker Brandon McManus. It also yielded their first turnover-free game in nearly a month. And while the Jaguars' defense forced no takeaways early, the unit registered a season-high six sacks and limited Carolina's offense to the point that running back Travis Etienne's 62-yard touchdown early in the third quarter for a 16-point lead felt like a game-ender. "Anytime you can win, whether it's a pretty win, an ugly win … a win is a win," Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson said. "We have stuff we need to get better at. We'll handle that part, but right now it's just enjoying being back in the win column. We want to hang on to this, but get back to work because we know what we have in front of us." Was it pretty? Maybe not. But the four-game losing streak is over and a victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 18 will give the Jaguars a second consecutive AFC South title. That's a beautiful thought for this team.
- Good for the good guys. This was a good day for the Jaguars overall and a memorably good one for two players in particular. First, tight end Evan Engram early in the second quarter caught a four-yard pass that gave him 100 receptions for the season – making him the eighth tight end in NFL history with 100 or more receptions in a regular season. Outside linebacker Josh Allen then spent the rest of the game leading a strong Jaguars defensive effort and setting a franchise record. Allen finished the day with three sacks. The first tied the single-season record of 14.5 set by former defensive lineman Calais Campbell in 2017 and the second gave him sole possession of the record. As of game's end, Allen's total for the season was 16.5. It was a well-deserved record for Allen and a memorable day for he and Engram, two class acts who deserved a huge day in the 2023 regular-season home finale.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …
- Get-right game. The Jags ended their losing streak, stayed in first place in the AFC South, found some yards on the ground, got kicker Brandon McManus back on track, found their pass rush and left the field feeling good for the first time since they beat the Houston Texans on November 26. That they did it against one of the NFL's worst teams matters little. The Jaguars were so desperate to win, especially without Lawrence, that they could have beaten the Little Sisters of the Poor and they'd still be delighted with the outcome. To be sure, there is plenty to be critical of: they didn't tackle all that well again, they settled for field goals on three red-zone trips and they didn't get any push from the middle of the offensive line. But when you're where the team was headed into Week 17, none of that matters if you walk off the field with the win.
- Helping the quarterback. Nothing made Jaguars quarterback C.J. Beathard's day easier than the defense shutting down quarterback Bryce Young and the Panthers. The Jaguars' pass rush repeatedly came up big with sacks that forced the Panthers offense off the field. Allen notched his third three-sack game of the season and became the franchise's single-season sack leader with 16.5, passing Campbell's 14.5 in 2017. Travon Walker, the oft-maligned former No. 1 overall draft selection who now has four sacks in the last three games, posted his first career multi-sack game and now has nine this season. But it wasn't just the edge players who led the Jaguars to a season-high six sacks. Roy Robertson-Harris got one and was a constant presence in the middle of the field. Dawuane Smoot, Adam Gotsis and DaVon Hamilton pushed the pocket hard and never let Young set his feet or feel comfortable. While the Panthers' offensive line is an underperforming unit, it was good to see the big boys feasting. Hopefully, that gets a fire lit for the Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis next week.
Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...
- Urgency and desperation drives the Jaguars back into the win column. After four straight losses, the Jaguars showed effort and passion Sunday. Beathard protected the football and the run game looked as good as it has in weeks. The win allows the Jaguars to gain some confidence again by ending their losing streak. They'll need all the confidence they can get as it will all come down to the final game of the season in Nashville. Win and you're in.
- Allen makes history and pays homage to Campbell. After going three straight weeks without a sack, Allen had a big day Sunday. Allen made history in the process, setting a new franchise record for sacks in a single season. Allen even gave a nod to his former teammate by doing Campbell's signature home run celebration when he broke the record.