GREEN BAY, Wis. – They fought, scrapped and made it close for a long time.
For the Jaguars, it wasn't enough, and when an impressive defensive performance couldn't overcome a struggling third-quarter offense, the Jaguars missed an opportunity for an upset, losing to the Green Bay Packers, 24-15, in front of 70,464 at Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon.
Afterward, Head Coach Mike Mularkey talked of a continuing trend of the Jaguars not quite being able to make a key play at a key time.
But he also talked about a step in a positive direction.
"I hate to be standing up here with another loss, but there are some things that showed up today that I'm pleased with," Mularkey said after the Jaguars outgained the Packers, 341-238.
"There are some positives that can be taken away from this game."
The Jaguars (1-6) outgained the Packers 233-91 in the first half, but managed just minus-1 yards on three third-quarter series, squandering several opportunities to take the lead.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert, playing with a shoulder injury that forced him from last week's game at Oakland, had one of the best statistical games of his career, completing 27 of 49 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown. His one-yard touchdown pass late in the first half to offensive tackle Guy Whimper made it 14-12, Packers.
Jaguars second-year wide receiver Cecil Shorts caught eight passes for 116 yards, his first career 100-yard game and the first for the Jaguars since Jason Hill did it against Cincinnati early last season.
Gabbert's 303 yards were a career-high, snapping a streak of 29 consecutive games for the team without a 300-yard passer.
At the time, the Jaguars had dominated statistically, but after Jacksonville struggled in the third quarter, the Packers (5-3) used a seven-play, 52-yard drive to take a two-score lead. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed a four-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver with 2:24 gone in the fourth quarter.
That made it 20-12, Jaguars, and the point after gave the Packers a 21-12 lead.
The Jaguars responded with an 11-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal by Josh Scobee that made it 21-15, with 6:50 remaining.
"I think it was a positive step forward for us in a lot of areas," Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said. "We're not happy with the result. There's no sugarcoating that. I honestly believe everybody who came in today truly in their heart believed they were going to beat this team. We believed that all the way to the end."
The Jaguars' defense, which sacked Rodgers twice and forced a turnover late in the first half, held the Packers yet again on the following series, giving the Jaguars a chance to win late.
Running back Rashad Jennings caught two passes for 33 yards and Shorts caught one for eight to take the Jagaurs to midfield, but there the drive stalled. On 4th-and-6 from the Packers 44, Gabbert threw incomplete to Justin Blackmon.
The Packers drove 49 yards for a 25-yard field goal by Mason Crosby that clinched the victory, and instead of the biggest regular-season upset in franchise history, the Jaguars had a fourth consecutive loss, their second in the last two road games.
Afterward, Mularkey talked somewhat reluctantly about progress, and said while the Jaguars again found a way to lose when they could have won, in a sense Sunday was a step in a positive direction.
"There was progress," Mularkey said. "That's hard to say on a loss, but you have to say what it is."