JACKSONVILLE – The NFL is offering fans free access to its Game Pass platform, making any game available dating to 2009. In the coming weeks, we at jaguars.com will highlight Jaguars games from that era. In this story, we highlight a 2018 victory over the New England Patriots at TIAA Bank Field
The teams: Jaguars versus New England Patriots.
The date: September 16, 2018.
The site: TIAA Bank Field.
The setup: This was one of the most emotional games in Jaguars history, a game that came less than eight months after they lost to New England in the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 season. Both teams entered the game 1-0, with the Jaguars having beaten the New York Giants on the road in the regular-season opener.
The gist: The Jaguars' '18 season fell apart in October, but this game shows just how good this team was early in 2018. They completely dominated a New England team that went to the previous year's Super Bowl and would win the Super Bowl following the '18 season. The Jaguars led 14-0 after the first quarter and 21-3 at halftime, never allowing the Patriots closer than 11 points in the second half. The Jaguars outgained New England 480-302 and had 27 first downs to 18 for the Patriots.
Quotable I: "That's how we want to win. That's what we kept saying, 'Don't take your foot off the throat.' That's what we kept saying and we did that." – Jaguars center Brandon Linder
Bortles' biggest day: Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, who would struggle in the last three quarters of the season and who wouldn't return to the Jaguars in 2019, didn't struggle against the Patriots – and in fact, he had one of his best career games. He completed 29 of 45 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns with an interception, with three of those touchdowns coming in a first half controlled by the Jaguars.
Quotable II: "I expect our offense to come out and do things like they did today, but I'm sure a lot of people thought it was going to be like last year where they [the offense] would just go in and out and trust [the Jaguars' defense]. They played their game and they were really the side of the ball that took over the game. It was awesome to watch." – Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson
The statistics: Jaguars – Bortles (29-45 passing, 376 yards, four touchdowns, one interception), T.J. Yeldon (10 carries, 58 yards, one touchdown), Keelan Cole (seven receptions, 116 yards, one touchdown); Patriots – Brady 24-35 passing, 234 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions), Sony Michel (10 carries, 34 yards), James White (seven receptions, 73 yards).
At last: The Jaguars never had beaten the Patriots in the regular season, with their lone previous victory over New England coming in the postseason following the 1998 season. This was the Jaguars' first victory in nine meetings against Brady.
Quotable III: "You could feel the energy. There were a couple of guys who said they could feel the hair on the back of their necks. Some people had goosebumps and stuff like that. That was the city coming together. It didn't count toward the previous year, but it was pretty much like us righting the ship. We should have won that game.'' – Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones
The key series: The early part of this game was electric, with the Jaguars making multiple big plays as they surged to a double-digit lead. No Jaguars player on this day made as many big plays as Cole, a second-year wide receiver who particularly dazzled on an early first-quarter drive. The drive began with the Jaguars leading 7-0. Bortles on first-and-15 from the Jaguars 24 threw a high pass to Cole, who reached high and plucked the ball from the air for a remarkable one-handed reception and a gain of 22 yards. Bortles threw for gains of 13 and 17 yards to running back Corey Grant and tight end James O'Shaughnessy on the ensuing two plays. He then capped the drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Cole, who caught the ball in the end zone and ran through the tunnel behind the end zone.
Quotable IV: "Them coming into Duval, in our stadium, and having that monster – the team that stopped us going to the Super Bowl … they were the big, bad wolf. You could see: all the fans wanted to see us beat them. The energy in the stadium was incredible." – Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell
The clincher: The Jaguars clinched the victory with two huge plays in the fourth quarter. First, with the Jaguars leading 24-13, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. sacked Brady on third-and-9 from the Jaguars 24; Fowler forced and recovered a fumble to end the drive. The Jaguars cliched the victory with Bortles' 61-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dede Westbrook with 7:35 remaining.