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The Jaguars Achilles Heel: Quick Thoughts on MNF Loss to Cincinnati

Quick Thoughts - Week 13

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 34-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in a 2023 Week 13 game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville Monday

John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…

  1. Oh, no, no, no, no. The only pertinent thought following the Jaguars' first Monday Night Football appearance in 12 years also is the obvious thought – that the ankle injury sustained by quarterback Trevor Lawrence dwarfs all else around this team right now. Yes, the Jaguars (8-4) missed a chance to take over the No. 1 seed in the AFC by losing Monday – and their lead in the AFC South now is down to a game over the Houston Texans (7-5) and Indianapolis Colts (7-5). But all of that felt secondary the moment Lawrence was sacked by Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson at the Bengals 30 with 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. Lawrence appeared hurt immediately after the play and it became obvious when he slammed his helmet to the ground. Lawrence was helped from the field, barely putting weight on the injured ankle. The Jaguars fought impressively after that and had multiple chances to win. But all else Monday seemed secondary after Lawrence's injury. Stay tuned.
  2. Monday Night Madness. Myriad moments merited mention following one of the more bizarre games in recent Jaguars memory. Lawrence was far from the only significant Jaguars injury, with wide receiver Christian Kirk leaving the game after a groin injury on the Jaguars' first play and left tackle Walker Little sustaining a hamstring injury on the play on which Lawrence was injured. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard deserves credit for leading a late drive for a 40-yard field goal by kicker Brandon McManus that forced overtime. The Jaguars also missed a chance to win on the first drive of overtime when rookie right tackle Anton Harrison's holding penalty negated a 43-yard pass from Beathard to wide receiver Calvin Ridley that appeared to give the Jaguars first-and-goal at the two. The Jaguars somewhat inexplicably – and quite unexpectedly – turned in their worst performance of the season against the run, with the Bengals rushing for 156 yards. This was indeed a weird game under the Monday lights. Times change fast in the NFL. The Jaguars are still in first place in the AFC South, but a season of hope now has far more uncertainty than anyone could have imagined 24 hours ago.

Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …

  1. A play here and a play there. A missed field goal that might have been the difference between a game-tying field goal and a game-winner with less than 30 seconds to play. A holding penalty on Harrison on what would have been a completion to Ridley and a first-and-goal at the two-yard line. Both of those happened after Lawrence was seen wobbling down the tunnel in a scene that can only be described as apocalyptic to Jaguars fans who saw the season going down in flames with every painful step. There was a sickening silence that hung over EverBank Stadium as the Bengals' game-winning field goal cleared the crossbar. It's likely to continue over Jacksonville into Tuesday and beyond.
  2. I thought I was watching Tom Brady play quarterback for the Bengals. The Jaguars had no answer for Bengals quarterback Jake Browning and the short passing game he used to shred their defense. He was brilliant and I can't believe I am writing that. The Bengals used screen passes, drag routes and choice routes – and turned the Jaguars linebackers and safeties inside out. In only his second start, his first on the road and first on Monday Night Football, Browning completed 32 of 37 passes – an 86 percent completion rate – for 346 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a touchdown and led the Bengals to a go-ahead field goal in regulation – and the game-winner in overtime. It was a remarkable performance for the Bengals offense that put up 34 points and nearly 500 yards – and a forgettable performance by a defense that looked lost most of the night.

Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...

  1. Miscommunication burns the secondary. The Jaguars' defense has been the strong suit throughout the season, but the Achilles Heel has been the Jaguars' susceptibility to allowing the big play. The backfield was shorthanded early Monday as cornerback Tre Herndon left the game in the first quarter with a concussion. Cornerback Tyson Campbell returned from a hamstring injury just in time to match up with one of the best wide receivers in the league in Ja'Marr Chase. While the Bengals certainly have impressive skill players, the Jacksonville secondary made it really easy for them on Monday night.
  2. Jags once again get bullied at home. Physicality has been a weak point for Jacksonville and those issues were magnified under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. Third and short continues to be a struggle. The quarterback sneak is a perilous endeavor every time the Jaguars attempt it. Lawrence sustained an ankle injury Monday caused by his own left tackle. The team is also desperately missing the attitude and presence of left tackle Cam Robinson as he deals with a knee injury. General Manager Trent Baalke addressed the offensive line this season by drafting rookie right tackle Anton Harrison in the first round and trading for left guard Ezra Cleveland at the deadline. But questions about the strength of the offensive line continue and for good reason.

Waiting all week for Monday Night Football 🐆 Check out live photos of the the Bengals vs. Jaguars game in Duval 🏈

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