JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley did like a few things Sunday.
They weren't irrelevant things, either, because during a 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Bradley – the Jaguars' first-year head coach – liked a lot about the desire and the energy and a lot of other things he has stressed this season.
"I thought our effort was really good," Bradley said after the Cardinals (6-4) overcame a pair of seven-point, first-half deficits and pulled away from the Jaguars (1-9) throughout the second half in front of a crowd with a 59,862 paid attendance at EverBank Field.
"I thought we battled."
That was particularly true early, with the Jaguars scoring on their first two possessions to take leads of 7-0 and 14-7.
"We started off strong," Bradley said.
But the finish was a decidedly different story, with the Cardinals scoring the game's final 20 points and the Jaguars' offense unable to take advantage of a scrappy defensive effort.
The Jaguars' offense, after scoring on a 62-yard pass from quarterback Chad Henne to tight end Danny Noble on the game's first series and a one-yard run by Maurice Jones-Drew on the Jaguars' second series, finished with 274 total yards.
A total of 117 yards came on the Jaguars' first two possessions.
The Jaguars, after rushing for 1.8 yards per carry in a victory over Tennessee last week, struggled again Sunday, managing just 2.0 yards a carry against a Cardinals defense that entered the game ranked No. 3 in the NFL defensively against the run. Jones-Drew rushed for 23 yards on 14 carries.
"They did a good job at the point of attack," Bradley said.
Chad Henne, making his fifth consecutive start at quarterback for the Jaguars, completed five of six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown – including the 62-yard pass to Noble – in the first quarter but finished with 255 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions.
Bradley said he also was disappointed that the defense allowed a touchdown on the Cardinals' first possession, with Arizona driving 80 yards on 10 plays and quarterback Carson Palmer tying the game at 7-7 with a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Palmer finished with 419 yards passing and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
The Jaguars held the Cardinals to 0.6 yards per carry, with Rashard Mendenhall rushing for 14 yards on 13 carries and Andre Ellington rushing for three yards on eight carries. That enabled the pass rush to be more aggressive late in the game, and the Jaguars sacked Palmer three times.
"The first drive was a little disappointing," Bradley said. "We had some things with personnel and just communication that took place, but after that, we settled down pretty good. We did a good job attacking the run and controlling Ellington."
The Jaguars also allowed eight explosive plays – defined by the Jaguars as a run over 12 yards and a pass over 16 yards – with the key play in that area a 91-yard touchdown from Palmer to wide receiver Michael Floyd, who finished with six receptions for 193 yards.
"Explosive plays came back to bite us a little bit," Bradley said.
Floyd broke three tackles on the play, including efforts from safety Josh Evans and cornerback Will Blackman and a late, diving attempt by a pursuing Alan Ball.
"Those things we cannot give up," Bradley said.
The picture made the rounds on Twitter, and pretty much all over social media.
It was, in a word, bizarre.
With 3:09 remaining in the third quarter Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin emerged from a pile with a healthy chunk of the dreadlocks of Cardinals running back Andre Ellington. Babin held the thick strands up for a few seconds, and then tossed them aside.
"It was pretty bland," Babin said of the play. "It just happened. I didn't realize it happened until it stuck to my glove. I looked down, and there it was – stuck in my gloves. What are you going to do?"
Babin said his gloves were from Under Armor and designed with receivers in mind. Therefore, the palm of the gloves were a bit stickier than his hand might have been.
"The stick-'em surface, I guess works – on all things," Babin said. "I don't even think he felt it."
Babin added, "It seems like everybody's making a big deal about it. It's just one of those plays in a football game."
Cornerback Dwayne Gratz left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury.
Gratz, who returned to the starting lineup last week after being out much of the first half of the season with a high-ankle sprain, did not return.
Wide receiver Mike Brown also left the game and did not return, leaving in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.
- Quarterback Chad Henne: "We just have to maintain our tempo and try to get our playmakers involved as much as we can. What really hurt us is we didn't run the ball as well. We try to stay balanced, but there comes a time when it's 27-14 and you have seven minutes left, you have to pump the ball down the field and try to get some of those plays."
- Center Brad Meester: "We're not going to sit around and just let things happen. We're going to keep fighting and getting after that."
- Meester: "We as an offensive line, we take that (the running game struggles) on ourselves. That's on us. We have to create the holes. I don't care who's back there."
- Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III: "We have to execute. We can't have silly penalties in their territory. That's on us. We need to improve in certain areas. That's on us."
- Bradley said one issue on the Jaguars' first defensive series was that they were trying to pressure Palmer with four down linemen and play coverage behind that. He said defensive coordinator Bob Babich switched from that quickly, which contributed to better pressure and the three sacks. "Credit Bob," Bradley said. "He looked at it and said, 'You know what, let's get more aggressive; we don't want him sitting back there and having that much time.' We quickly changed thoughts."
- Defensive lineman Ryan Davis was active after being called up from the practice squad Saturday.
- The Jaguars' first touchdown came on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Henne to tight end Danny Noble. Bradley said he and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch had discussed the possibility of going for it on fourth-and-short Sunday, and while doing so on fourth-and-1 from their 38 early in the first quarter "was a little bit out of the range, I just felt like we needed it at that time."
WHAT'S NEXT:The Jaguars will visit the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.