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Open Locker Room: Missed opportunities key in Jaguars 2014 season opener

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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania  – Gus Bradley made no excuses, and didn't talk of moral victories. Not even close.

But while the Jaguars let a real chance to win their 2014 regular-season season opener slip away with some avoidable errors, the Jaguars' second-year head coach said there was no despair or lost hope following a 34-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

Not even close.

"Little things allow big things to happen," Bradley said Sunday afternoon after the Eagles outscored the Jaguars 34-0 in the second half. "I thought we did a good job with that in the first half, especially defensively, and took advantage of some of those things on offense. It kind of flipped in the second half, and little things allowed big things to happen for them."

The Eagles outgained the Jaguars 291-118 in the second half, with running back Darren Sproles starting the comeback with a 49-yard run and quarterback Nick Foles giving the Eagles their first lead with a 68-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with 6:59 remaining.

The Jaguars talked throughout the week of the need to mentally focus on every play against an up-tempo offense that pressures defenses mentally and physically on every play.

"We were OK, but the thing about that is, you have to do it every play," Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "There were a couple of big plays like that, that shouldn't happen – whether it's because of the no-huddle or a lot of things going on.

"That's how Philadelphia wins. We're playing solid, then all of a sudden, they hit a big one on us."

The Jaguars took a 17-0 halftime lead with quarterback Chad Henne working efficiently, completing 12 of 17 passes for 167 yards in the first two quarters. Two of those passes were for 34 and 21 yard touchdowns to rookie wide receiver Allen Hurns. Henne finished the game 24-of-43 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

"I mentioned all week that this is a precision game," Bradley said. "That's what took place. We had a couple of things, a couple of miscommunications that led to big plays. In this game, you can't do that. We played extremely hard. We played fast, but we missed some opportunities and that's what we have to capture."

The Jaguars were two of 14 on third downs Sunday.

"Third down killed us," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "That's an area of emphais we have to continue to get better at."

PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Hurns didn't just make his first NFL start Sunday, he made some history while doing it.

Hurns, a rookie free-agent from the University of Miami, started the game at wide receiver in place of Cecil Shorts III, out with a hamstring injury. Hurns started opposite rookie Marqise Lee, meaning the Jaguars had two rookie wide receivers starting the regular-season opener for the first time in franchise history.

"I treated it like it was a preseason game, and the preseason, I treated that like it was a regular-season game," Hurns said. "I was pretty comfortable because of the work we put in in practice."

Hurns' history came in the first quarter, when he caught touchdown passes of 34 and 21 yards from Henne. In so doing, he became the second receiver in NFL history to have touchdowns on first two NFL receptions. The first was Charles Rogers of the Detroit Lions in 2003.

"I knew we had a lot of time left," Hurns said. "No game is won in the first quarter. In my mind, I had to keep improving and making plays."

Hurns finished the game with four receptions for 110 yards, all in the first half.

"I'm really excited about his development and where we can go with him," Henne said. "If he keeps making plays, he's going to be one of our go-to guys."

Images from the first half of the Jaguars Week 1 game against the Eagles in Lincoln Financial Field.

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Offense: Hurns' 34-yard on a post-pattern early in the first quarter capped a 44-yard drive and gave the Jaguars an early 7-0 lead. The pass came from  Henne, who started the game hot, completing 12 of 17 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

Defense:This could have gone to any number of sacks, with the Jaguars' registering five in the first half. But cornerback Alan Ball's end-zone interception ended a quick Eagles drive in the second quarter and held off the Eagles' momentum – at least until the second half.

Special teams: Kicker Josh Scobee's 49-yard field goal was a big play early, but the special teams struggled after that, allowing a 36-yarder to be blocked, then allowing a pair of long returns by Sproles.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

"We'll get there. I believe we have the guys in the locker room to do it."

--- Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley

QUOTABLE

  1. Henne: "We had a chance. Give Philly credit. They did a great job. At the same time, we just need to execute, stick to our guns and keep making the plays that we can make, and we'd like the result. We've just got to keep playing our best and get over that hump."
  1. Henne: "We've got some young guys. We'll have some growing pains at times, but at the same time, we have high expectations from them to make some plays."

LOOKING ON . . .

  1. Third-year veteran Jacques McClendon made his third NFL start, his first at center, and rookie Brandon Linder started at right guard. That made the interior of the offensive line an issue for the Jaguars entering the regular-season opener. McClendon had an early high snap or two and a false start penalty in the first quarter. Overall, the Jaguars' young line allowed three sacks and the Jaguars rushed for 64 yards on 25 carries. …
  1. Running back also was a focus entering the game, with unrestricted free-agent Toby Gerhart making his first start for the Jaguars and Denard Robinson backing him up with Jordan Todman next on the depth chart. The Jaguars struggled to run much of the preseason, and did so again Sunday. Gerhart led the Jaguars with 42 yards on 18 carries and second-team running back Denard Robinson had eight yards on three carries. …
  1. Scobee converted a 49-yard field goal early in the second quarter, then missed from 50 yards on the ensuing series. The Jaguars also had a 36-yard field goal blocked with 4:36 remaining in the second quarter, missing two consecutive opportunities to extend a 17-0 lead. …
  1. Posluszny left the game briefly early in the second half with leg issue, and he was heavily wrapped with ice afterward, but said the area won't be an issue. "It's fine," he said. "It's nothing."

NOTABLE

*Scobee's missed field goal from 50 yards marked his first missed field goal in September since 2009. The miss ended a streak of 21 consecutive field goals in September for Scobee.

*The Jaguars' five sacks in the first half were a franchise record for a half. …

INJURY UPDATE

Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien sustained a concussion and did not return. Linebacker J.T. Thomas sustained a head injury, but was cleared. Those were the only two injuries issues announced after the game.

Images from the 2nd half of the Jaguars Week 1 game against the Eagles in Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles bested the Jaguars 34 - 17.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Jaguars will visit the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, in Week 2 of the 2014 regular season Sunday at 1 p.m.

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