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The Day After: Bradley likes Jaguars fight


CHANDLER'S CROSS, England – The overseas view was the same as stateside.

The Jaguars arrived in London Monday morning, and Head Coach Gus Bradley said he still saw a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals the day before in much the same way.

The Jaguars didn't play well enough, particularly in the first half.

But Bradley said what perhaps mattered more was how the Jaguars responded to a nine-point halftime deficit, rallying in the second half to give themselves a chance to win a game that easily could have been more one-sided.

"What was a tell-tale sign for us was our team and how we came back," Bradley said Monday, a day after the Jaguars lost to the Bengals, 33-23, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

"We made it a three-point game. Everything, momentum, was going in our favor. The fight, and how we went about it, was really cool. Now, how it ended … that stung, that stung."

Players agreed the loss stung, as does a 1-8 record after nine games for a second consecutive season.

"It's trying times right now," Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III said. "You work so hard and you want to reap what you sow. Things aren't going that well right now, but we have to keep fighting. Our culture is great. We have a great coaching staff. We have the right players here to make it work.

"We just have to continue to work and good things will happen."

As Bradley saw it, that nearly happened Sunday. The Jaguars trailed 12-3 at halftime, struggling in the first half offensively while allowing a tipped and blocked punt to that point on special teams. They fell behind 19-3 early in the second half before forcing two second-half turnovers and scoring three offensive touchdowns in the second half.

The Jaguars cut the lead to 26-23 on a five-yard touchdown run by Denard Robinson before allowing a 60-yard touchdown run to Jeremy Hill on the ensuing play from scrimmage with 8:04 remaining. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw his 13th interception of the season on the ensuing series to secure the victory for Cincinnati.

"There's nothing we can't fix," linebacker Geno Hayes said. "It's small things, detail things, that kill us. That's what gives us a little frustration. We know we can do it and when you don't do it unfortunately it shows on the scoreboard."

Hayes said the Jaguars are "10 times better" than this time last season.

"You can see the improvement is there," he said. "People see the improvement and see the team is going to be better. All it takes is time. Once it clicks together, you can trust me: it's going to be a beautiful thing."

Bradley called the team's mentality "incredible."

"It wasn't a game that got out of hand because of maybe how we started," Bradley said. "I thought it showed really great resiliency, really great temperament and effort by our team."

Bradley said he has seen signs of that coming together in recent weeks.

"You see so many signs of it coming together like that," Bradley said. "I think it's something that once we gain confidence and you see good things happening and it ends up with truly a victory, I think that hopefully that steamrolls. It can, but the only way it can is if the attitude and the spirit of your team is in a good place."

Players on Monday agreed with Bradley that they see clear improvement from last season, when the Jaguars lost their first eight games by 10 or more points. Six of the team's losses this season have been by double digits, with double-digit losses at NFC East-leading Philadelphia and AFC North-leading Cincinnati coming after the Jaguars were within three points in the fourth quarter.

"It's a big improvement from this time last year," Shorts said. "We just have to continue to work. We can't get frustrated. It hasn't showed up in the standings yet, but other teams are seeing it. We have to keep fighting and this thing will turn around sooner or later."

Safety Johnathan Cyprien echoed the thoughts of Shorts and many others around the Jaguars.

"We're close, and we're doing a lot of positive things," Cyprien said. "We're so close to doing it, because some parts do it some games and not in others. We just have that hunger to put it all together."

Also around the Jaguars:

*The team sustained three injuries Sunday that required players leaving the game for extended periods: safety Josh Evans (shoulder), guard Brandon Linder (shoulder) and linebacker Jeremiah George (high-ankle sprain). The injuries likely will be updated Wednesday, with a high-ankle sprain often keeping a player out for an extended period. …

*The Jaguars on Monday placed cornerback Will Blackmon on injured reserve with a fractured left index finger, signing rookie Khairi Fortt to the 53-man roster from the Bengals practice squad. Sherrod Martin played the nickel Sunday in Blackmon's place and the Jaguars also have the option of activating rookie cornerback Sherrod Martin from the Physically Unable to Perform list. …

*Jaguars players have their normal off day Tuesday, with several community events planned around the London area. The coaches will game plan and prepare Tuesday with players resuming their normal practice schedule Wednesday. …

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