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Sexton-Oehser Quick Thoughts: Jaguars 31, Jets 12

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ game against the New York Jets at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday

Oehser …

1.Just what they needed. The Jaguars’ defense did what it expected to do on Sunday; perhaps more significantly, it did what it needed to do – and set the tone in what felt like a must-win game. With the Jaguars needing a victory a week after a loss to Tennessee, the defense dominated the Jets, and turned in one of its most complete games of Head Coach Doug Marrone’s tenure. No, this wasn’t the sack-frenzy that defined memorable victories at Houston and Indianapolis last season. But here’s what it was: Dominance from the start, with the Jets managing just six first downs and 86 yards in the first half – and 178 total yards for the game. The Jaguars also allowed 34 total rushing yards – including 23 in the first half – after allowing the Jets 256 yards rushing in a 23-20 overtime loss at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in Week 4 last season. Yes, the offense was impressive and efficient, but an overwhelming defensive effort allowed the entire team – offense and defense – to operate stress-free Sunday. Considering the Jaguars have allowed just four touchdowns this season, and considering the Jets entered the game with a rookie starting quarterback, that was the sort of effort the Jaguars’ defense expected. It’s the mark of a great defense that it did it when the team really needed it.

2.Just what he needed. You can’t go far in any post-game analysis of Sunday’s game without mentioning Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. As has been his routine in the last season or so, Bortles on Sunday responded to adversity in a big way – and the result was one of the better games of his NFL career. At first glance, this wasn’t a spectacular performance on par with four touchdowns and 377 yards passing in a Week 2 victory over New England. But a closer look suggests it may have been as impressive. The Jets are a very good defense with an effective front and a talented back seven that includes cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne and safety Jamal Adams. Bortles on Sunday not only was poised in the pocket throughout, he was accurate and smart passing. He completed 29 of 38 passes for 388 yards and two touchdowns with his only interception on a deflected pass. His only incomplete pass on his first 18 attempts was when he threw the ball out of bounds intentionally to avoid a sack. Bottom line: Bortles responded to a difficult game last week against Tennessee with an efficient performance, and he continues to play well far more often than not.

3.Just what he keeps doing This one’s about Josh Lambo – and if it’s strange to mention a kicker in such a one-sided victory, consider: Lambo went three for three on field goals in the first half Sunday, converting successfully to finish three extended drives. The Jaguars were dominating statistically at halftime and held a 16-0 lead, but had Lambo missed any of his three attempts the lead would have felt fare more tenuous and the first half would have felt far less dominant. Lambo since joining the Jaguars midway through last season is 27 of 28 on field-goal attempts and has yet to miss in 18 attempts at TIAA Bank Field. His 19 consecutive field goals is one shy of the franchise record shared by Josh Scobee (2011-2012) and Mike Hollis (1998-1999). No, Lambo didn’t win Sunday’s game and the Jaguars would have won had he missed all of his kicks. But Lambo unquestionably has solidified the position in his 14 regular-season games with the team – and considering the Jaguars are a ball-control, field-position oriented team the importance of that can’t be overestimated.

Sexton…

1.Bortles led an impressive resurgence against the Jets.An offense that couldn’t find the end zone or red zone a week ago put up a season-high 503 yards Sunday en route to 31 points. What stood out the most was Bortles’ patience in the pocket, waiting for wide receiver Dede Westbrook or running back T.J. Yeldon to clear on the crossing routes. Westbrook and Donte Moncrief were equally impressive. A week after neither could make a play in the 9-6 loss to Tennessee, they both went over 100 yards and combined for 14 catches and 239 yards – including Moncrief’s 67- yard score that crushed the Jets’ hopes. The threat of running back Leonard Fournette had the Jets on the ball early in the game, opening things up. But credit to the Jaguars for maintaining momentum in the second half after Fournette left with continuing hamstring issues.

2.They weren’t perfect, though.The Jaguars made a slew of mistakes Sunday, including three second-half turnovers and nine total penalties. Many of those killed game-changing plays – including a defensive holding on cornerback A.J. Bouye that negated safety Tashaun Gipson’s first-half interception, and an illegal shift that negated what would have been a big first down by Westbrook on an early third-quarter drive. There were also three batted passes at the line of scrimmage for the second consecutive game, and a secondary that talked all week about getting their hands on the ball did just that – but couldn’t convert the opportunities into interceptions. I counted four such plays. Bouye told me he counted five. Either way, the Jaguars were dominant without really dominating – at least not like they could have. Word was Head Coach Doug Marrone was really unhappy about the mistakes, so expect to hear more about those this week.

3.The Jets knew they couldn’t score. At least that’s my interpretation. I paid close attention to the Jets’ body language in their huddle starting in the second quarter, and I saw a bunch of guys who weren’t dialed in. I asked the Jaguars’ defenders if they sensed as much. While no one wanted to say that about another NFL player, a number of them gave me the “You-saw-that-too-huh?’ look. The Jaguars’ defense owned the Jets. They knew it. The Jets knew it. As a result, this game looked as if it could be 40-0 at one point. The aforementioned turnovers helped prevent a potential shutout, but it couldn’t water down a defensive effort that has that unit primed and ready for a chance to play the Kansas City Chiefs next week. That game has the look of the biggest game of the season and its only Week 5 …

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