O-Zone Late Night: Lions 26, Jaguars 19

DETROIT, Michigan – Another week, another tough loss.

There was a lot to digest at Ford Field Sunday. While writing this early Sunday evening, I'm not sure I've digested it yet.

The Jaguars' post-game locker room was as emotional as any I've covered, with players visibly upset for their teammates, Telvin Smith and T.J. Yeldon, both of whom played Sunday after experiencing deaths in their families during the week.

The scene of middle linebacker Paul Posluszny consoling Smith in the locker room was one I'll never forget, nor will I forget Posluszny's eloquence moments later when speaking about what Smith means to the Jaguars.

As I've written elsewhere today, football – while important – feels a lot less important today than most Sundays.

It would have been nice to be writing about what the Jaguars wanted, which very much was to win this game for Smith and Yeldon. It didn't happen. Endings don't always get written the way you want.

Let's get to it …

Dave from Jacksonville:
Blake Bortles. Another Pick Six. Sigh.
John: Quarterback Blake Bortles indeed defined a lot about the Jaguars' loss Sunday; this time, that definition was two-fold. On the one hand, he defined what overall was a gutsy Jaguars performance. Five players left the game with injuries; Bortles played through a shoulder issue to throw two touchdowns and give the Jaguars a lead late in the third quarter. Bortles at times played well Sunday, passing for 202 yards and two touchdowns. On the other hand, he threw an interception that was returned for a key third-quarter touchdown. That was the 10th time an interception thrown by Bortles has been returned for a touchdown and it was the second time it had happened in as many weeks. Bortles' Pick Six on Sunday came on a high throw that caromed off the hands of wide receiver Marqise Lee, with safety Rafael Bush returning it 39 yards for a touchdown and a 16-9 Lions lead. A huge issue with Bortles in his career has been catastrophic mistakes at the worst possible times. This one fit that description.
Adam from Lynbrook, NY:
This may sound crazy, but I think the pain in Bortles' shoulder forced him to shorten his delivery.
John: I don't know about that, but Bortles' performance Sunday at times was gutsy and impressive. He took hard hits on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter and recovered to play solid, tough and smart the rest of the first half. He was particularly impressive on a second-quarter touchdown drive that gave the Jaguars a 9-6 lead. He capped that drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Allen Robinson and also completed two other passes on the possession under duress. He also played well on a third-quarter possession that ended with a three-yard touchdown pass to Lee. Give Bortles credit. He has been under a lot of criticism in recent weeks. He wasn't great on Sunday and the third-quarter interception was a killer, but he played gutsy – and at times he played as well as he has all season.
Logan from Wichita:
Super Bowl???? A Super Bowl???? The Jaguars???? Our Jaguars???? That would surely signal the end. … I would love for that to happen but let's be real here. … I JUST PRAY THE JAGUARS HAVE ANOTHER WINNING SEASON BEFORE I DIE OF OLD AGE IN 120 YEARS!!!!
John: You're a fascinating mix of optimism and pessimism, but yeah … if your projections are correct, I think you'll see this team start winning. Hang in there.
Michael from Middleburg:
These goof-offs are worse than the Keystone Cops ... they can't get out of their own way.
John: There were a bunch of familiar scenes for the Jaguars Sunday. Penalties hurt the first two drives – and, of course, there was the 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter by Lions wide receiver Andre Roberts. The special teams have had major mistakes five consecutive games, and it could be argued that punt returns have been turning-point plays in the last three games. Then, there was the offsides penalty on defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks that extended the Lions' clock-killing drive just outside the two-minute warning. The Jaguars fought through the mistakes impressively Sunday, but there's no question avoidable mistakes continue to be one of the defining themes of this Jaguars season.
Joe from San Antonio, TX:
I have a really good feeling about this game today, John. I'll check back in with you in a bit.
John: This was the much-anticipated, much-ballyhooed, First Email of the Game – and it actually came about 15 minutes before kickoff. I anxiously awaited to hear back from Joe. I heard from him after the game …
Joe from San Antonio, TX:
I guess I just slept really well last night. Until next time.
John: Yeah, it ain't easy, Joe. It ain't easy.

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