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Open Locker Room: Defense delivers

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JACKSONVILLE – More was needed.

The Jaguars' defense – and the defensive front, in particular – knew this.

The defensive players and defensive linemen knew it entering Sunday's game against the New York Giants, and they darned sure knew it trailing by 18 points at halftime. So, after halftime, the defense did something about it.

They delivered more. A lot more.

One result was four second-half sacks. Another result was three second-half takeaways. Still another was two second-half defensive touchdowns, and the biggest, most-significant result was a 25-24 come-from-behind victory over the New York Giants in front of 64,687 at EverBank Field.

"It really shows you who you are when you're down like that," Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "We got together on the sideline, and (defensive line coach Todd) Wash basically got in all of our butts.

"We know we're the veteran group. We know everyone looks up to us. We have to figure out how we can take it upon us and put it on our back."

The defense did just that in the second half, limiting the Giants to three second-half points and creating turnovers or points seemingly at every critical moment.

*With 11:13 remaining in the third quarter, outside linebacker Geno Hayes sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning, forcing a fumble that middle linebacker J.T. Thomas recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. That made it 21-10, Giants.

*With 12:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz hit Giants tight end Larry Donnell, forcing a fumble that rookie nickel back Aaron Colvin returned 41 yards for a touchdown. That made it 22-21, Jaguars.

*With :20 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Giants facing 1st-and-10 at their 20, Marks sacked Manning and forced a fumble that end Chris Clemons recovered. That came the play after kicker Josh Scobee's 43-yard field goal gave the Jaguars a 25-24 lead.

Clemons' recovery also secured the Jaguars' second victory of the season.

"I think the defensive line felt that at halftime," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "They said, 'We're not doing a good enough job … we know there's some fit issues but we can play even better and raise the bar ourselves and how we play.' I think the bad body language is not silent. It shouts at you and I think that's what I was talking to them at halftime.

"Nothing about body language is silent. You felt a little bit of it, just more frustration, but to bounce back from that was cool."

The Jaguars' defense, after allowing 16 first downs and 254 yards in the second half, allowed just 75 yards and six second-half first downs. Fifty-four of the Giants' second-half yards came on their lone scoring drive of the half, which ended with a 33-yard field goal by Josh Brown that gave the Giants a 24-22 lead.

"Sometimes, you don't play good on both sides of the ball," Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller said. "I feel like we came out (in the second half) and said, 'Whatever happens, let's go out and fight.' That's what we did."

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Sen'Derrick Marks, defensive tackle, Jaguars

This could go to any number of defensive players, but Marks – the leader of the Jaguars' defense – was as good a choice as any on a day when many players contributed defensively.

Marks, a sixth-year veteran who has played at or near a Pro Bowl level this season, registered two of the Jaguars' sacks, getting both sacks in the second half as the team rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit.

Marks' two sacks went for losses of 18 yards, and his sack/fumble on Manning forced the takeaway that ended the Jaguars' final drive. Marks now has seven sacks for the season, which is tied for the team lead with Clemons.

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Offense:Quarterback Blake Bortles was efficient on the game's final drive, but the rookie's most memorable play came with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter. On 1st-and-10 from the Giants 30, Bortles threw to rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee on the right sideline in the end zone, with Lee tiptoeing the sideline and getting both feet in bounds for his first NFL touchdown.

Defense:This could have been any number of plays in the second half. Thomas' fumble recovery for a touchdown early in the second half got the Jaguars back in the game, but the biggest defensive play came early in the fourth quarter. Gratz's hit separated Donnell from the ball in front of the Giants' sideline, and Colvin scooped the fumble and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. The Jaguars suddenly had a 22-21 lead in a game they had trailed 21-0.

Special teams: Scobee's 43-yard field goal with :28 remaining gave the Jaguars the final margin of victory. It was the first game-winning field goal for Scobee since he converted a 59-yard field goal on the final play of a 31-28 victory over Indianapolis in October 2010.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

"Today was a total team win."

--- Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis

QUOTABLE

1.Bradley: "It was not pretty the first half. I didn't feel like we had the energy we needed. We didn't tackle very well or move the ball. Very thankful for halftime; we went in at halftime and kind of regrouped."

2.Scobee: "It was great. Unfortunately, we haven't been in that position (to kick a game-winning field goal) in a long time, so I just told myself to be focused. No matter where they ended up stalling out for a fourth down, I was going to be ready, regardless of the hash, so I just had to be focused and ready to hit a good ball."

3.Linebacker J.T. Thomas on his second-half touchdown: "I was just surprised that they were fiddling with the ball in our end zone. We're a very stingy defense, very opportunistic; we're known for getting the ball back. You might want to get on top of it and recover."

4."We came back and battled back and that's the most important part -- to show who we are and what we're trying to become."

5.Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III: "It's huge, man. It's huge. We're going to try and build off this success and finish the last four games strong."

NOTABLE

1.The Jaguars on Sunday utilized the Wildcat formation for the first time this season with running back Denard Robinson at quarterback. They used it on the first play of the game, but the play was negated by a false start. They had more success later, with Robinson rushing for 21 yards on back to back plays on the drive that ended with Lee's touchdown reception from Bortles. "We just tried to get the offense going a little bit," Bradley said, adding that the Jaguars put the Wildcat in specifically for the Giants game. …

2.The Giants' 19-play, 91-yard touchdown drive in the first half was the longest scoring drive in terms of plays against the Jaguars in team history. …

3.Marks now has five sacks in his last five games. …

4.The Jaguars' offense did not have a turnover for the first time this season. Bortles did not throw an interception for the first time in his career. …

INJURY UPDATE

Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch left the game in the first half with a groin injury, and did not return. Starting right tackle Austin Pasztor left the game late in the first half with a hamstring injury and also did not return.

Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns left briefly with a shoulder injury in the first half but returned, and reserve linebacker Khairi Fortt sustained a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return,

WHAT'S NEXT

The Jaguars will play host to the Houston Texans at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

Second half images from the Jaguars Week 13 win over the New York Giants.

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