KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This one will be remembered, but not the way the Jaguars wanted.
Chiefs 30, Jaguars 14.
That was the final at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday afternoon, a day that dawned as a high-octane, elite-on-elite matchup and ended with the Jaguars never seriously threatening in front of 75,289 as the Chiefs laid firm their early-season claim as the AFC's best team.
Yes … this one will be remembered.
Just not the way the Jaguars wanted.
"Too little too late; too little too late," Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said after the Chiefs took a 23-0 lead and comfortably held off a late attempt at a Jaguars rally.
Smith, like many teammates, talked confidently throughout the week. Smith, like several teammates, expressed surprise afterward that the usually hyped-up Jaguars didn't match the Chiefs' intensity.
Safety Tashaun Gipson expressed that same surprise, and had this to say about what was billed as a matchup of a Jaguars defense that entered Sunday ranked No. 1 in the NFL in yards allowed points allowed and passing yards allowed against a Chiefs offense that entered No. 1 in points:
"We came in here with all this hype, talking about how good we are a defense — myself included … We got drugged out there – straight drugged."
The Jaguars indeed not only lost Sunday, they lost in one-sided, discouraging fashion.
The Chiefs clinched victory somewhere between quarterback Blake Bortles' first turnover and his fifth, and the fifth-year veteran talked afterward about the loss – and the day – feeling like too many difficult, turnover-plagued losses in the past.
"You can't turn the ball over," he said. "I can't throw four picks."
Bortles, too, talked of the Jaguars waiting too long before playing at a high level.
The Chiefs blistered the Jaguars with two fast-break drives for a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, with the Jaguars' offense answering with three second-quarter turnovers and two second-quarter drives inside the Chiefs 5 that resulted in no points and a 20-0 halftime deficit.
"We have to find a way to get going early," said Bortles, who completed 33 of 61 passes for 430 yards and a touchdown with a season-high four interceptions. "We have to find a way to make plays early and sustain drives and get it rolling. It's almost like we waited until we got down and in a bad place before we decided we wanted to play."
Sunday wasn't just about Bortles' interceptions.
"A team effort," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone called it, and he was right.
The Jaguars lost because the Chiefs' offense is good. And fast. That offense looked faster than the Jaguars' defense early, and Marrone was right when he said a lot of this game was about the Jaguars' inability to prevent the Chiefs from making big plays.
The Jaguars also lost because the offensive line struggled. No way did the Jaguars want a game in which Bortles threw 61 passes. That's nowhere near this team's formula for success – and 61 passes is a recipe for the opponent getting a lot of pressure. Still, the Chiefs hurried Bortles 11 times and sacked him five times. He evaded a lot of pressure and was under duress too much.
However, they lost, the big picture is they lost. And because they lost, they missed a chance to have a record equal of any in the AFC. They also missed a chance to regain first place in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans' loss to the Buffalo Bills. As it stands, they remain tied with Tennessee at 3-2 and essentially a half-game behind because of a loss to the Titans in Week 3.
The Jaguars remain confident. Make no mistake about that.
"We're still 10 toes down," Smith said, referring to his oft-used phrase about this defense being all in.
The talk afterward, too, was about a chance to play the Chiefs again – something that can only happen if both teams are in the postseason.
That remains possible, even likely. The Jaguars' season isn't over. Their goals for a division title and a deep playoff run are not dashed, not even close. The Jaguars made the AFC Championship Game with a 10-6 record last season. They were 3-3 last season and are 3-2 now. Sunday's game could mean having to go on the road in the postseason. They have done that before – last season, winning in Pittsburgh. It's a tall task, but not close to an impossible one.
But that talk is a long way off. What's here and now is the Jaguars lost a game Sunday on a national stage and didn't play close to as well as they wanted and missed an opportunity. That will sting. That will hurt. And yes … it will be remembered.
Just not the way the Jaguars wanted.