SAN DIEGO, Calif. – This was a significantly different feeling.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley emphasized that more than once Sunday in the wake of a 33-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium – that while the score was similarly one-sided to a loss to Indianapolis the week before, his takeaway was far different.
A week before, Bradley said there were few positives, little improvement.
Not so on Sunday.
"It felt like today we played for a full 60 minutes," Bradley said.
Bradley said that made the outcome difficult.
"When you work hard, play hard and it doesn't come your way there are disappointments," Bradley said. "We knew on the journey there would be disappointments, but whereas last week, I didn't feel like we got better, this week I did feel like we got better.
"It went from, 'What's going on?' to 'This is what it could be if we play more consistently.'''
Rookie Blake Bortles made his first NFL start for the Jaguars at quarterback Sunday, completing 29 of 37 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. The Jaguars trailed 17-14 at halftime, with the Chargers pulling away with an early touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to wide receiver Malcom Floyd and three field goals by Nick Novak.
"He came out and I thought he was really efficient," Bradley said of Bortles. "He made good decisions and just like we thought, he made plays by creating them, getting out of the pocket and extending them."
Bradley said he felt the team responded well to a challenging week that included two position changes on offense, as well as the insertion of rookie Bortles into the starting lineup. He said coaches also challenged players to do a bit extra.
"I felt our players really took to the challenge," Bradley said.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns, with the touchdowns going for 43 and 47 yards to wide receiver Eddie Royal and 24 yards to wide receiver Malcom Floyd.
"We just gave up too many explosive plays," Bradley said. "A lot of them occurred on third downs, at critical times. When we had the chance to make the play, we didn't make it. Some of them are one on ones where you have to make the play and others were where we had another critical coverage blow. We have to get those pared down."
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Bortles, quarterback, Jaguars
Bortles and the Jaguars' offense cooled after a hot first half, but overall this was a good performance in his first game as a starter. Bortles completed 29 of 37 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Early on, he matched Rivers enough to have the Jaguars trail by just three points at halftime. Bortles completed 15 of 18 passes for 149 yards in the first half and 14 of 19 for 104 yards in the second half.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense:Bortles was hot early, and two of his better plays came on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. First, he found Allen Hurns alone down the middle of the field for a 44-yard gain to the Chargers 2. On the ensuing play, Bortles threw a high pass into the corner of the end zone that tight end Nic Jacobs caught for a two-yard touchdown and a 17-14 Jaguars lead.
Defense:Big plays for the defense got scarce too early, with the unit giving up touchdowns of 43 and 47 yards to wide receiver Eddie Royal. But early in the game there was energy, with defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and end Red Bryant combining for an early drive-stopping sack.
Special teams:Running back Jordan Todman returned six kickoffs for a 29-yard average with a long return of 32 yards.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"We showed flashes of what we're capable of, and things we can do. Now, the challenge is doing that consistently."
--- Jaguars offensive guard Zane Beadles
1.Bradley: "Overall, it felt better offensively. We'll try to clean up our mistakes and keep going." …
2.Beadles: "Experience makes it easier, but we don't have time to wait. Guys know that and we're not using anything as a crutch. We expect the most of ourselves right here, right now and we're going to go to work every single day with that in mind." …
3.Bortles: "They did what we thought they were going to do and what we saw on tape and what we game-planned for. I have to play better. We lost, so I don't know if there's a positive or not. I didn't play very well. I did some stupid things, but we're continuing to raise the bar and trying to get better each and every week and that's what we're going to do." …
4.Safety Johnathan Cyprien: "Things were a lot more challenged (Sunday). There were a lot more earned plays rather than free touchdowns."
LOOKING ON . . .
1.Bortles said if he had one throw he could have back it probably would be his second interception. The Jaguars were down 16 points and driving in the fourth quarter when he threw a pass to his left that safety Eric Weddle broke on for an easy interception. "I saw it," he said. "I shouldn't have thrown it." …
2.Defensive end Andre Branch received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the fourth quarter for punching Chargers offensive tackle King Dunlap. …
3.Toby Gerhart's 1-yard first-quarter touchdown run was his first signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and the Jaguars' first rushing touchdown this season …
4.Tight end Clay Harbor led the Jaguars with eight receptions for 69 yards, and rookie Allen Hurns caught five passes for 68 yards. Bradley also praised wide receiver Allen Robinson, who caught five passes for 38 yards. "I give him credit," Bradley said. "From where he was the first game to where he is now, he's playing so much better." Robinson missed the preseason with a hamstring injury. …
5.Bradley said despite the final score the tackling improved significantly from back-to-back losses to the Redskins (41-10) and Colts (44-17). "I thought our coverage was tighter," he said. "We just gave up some big plays at critical times." …
6.Gerhart rushed for 32 yards on 10 carries and Denard Robinson rushed for 25 yards on nine carries. Robinson has worked into the running back rotation in the last two weeks. Bradley said the move is not a demotion for Gerhart; rather, it's the Jaguars wanting to work that combination more. …
Images from the Pregame warm-ups and the 1st half of the Jacksonville Jaguars Week 4 matchup with the San Diego Chargers
Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III left the game with a hamstring injury in third quarter and did not return. Shorts will continue to be evaluated Monday. Shorts said he actually felt the hamstring pull one play before he left the game. On the play after Shorts' injury, Bortles threw toward Shorts and cornerback Brandon Flowers stepped in front and intercepted.
Cornerback Dwayne Gratz sustained a concussion in the first half and also did not return. Demetrius McCray finished the game in Gratz's place.
The Jaguars will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.
Second half images from the Jaguars matchup with the San Diego Chargers