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View from the O-Zone: So close … again


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The season isn't over. Not even close.

The Jaguars lost to the New York Jets, 28-23, at MetLife Stadium Sunday on a New Jersey November afternoon that started perfect and turned blustery. It wasn't always pretty and the result wasn't what the Jaguars wanted or hoped.

And yes, much of what has ailed the Jaguars this season ailed them in a game that could have been different but turned out the same in too many ways.

And yes, the post-game sounds were the same, too.

The talk was about being close, and missed opportunities – and of course, turnovers. And it was about things that could have and should have gone better. And it was very much about things having to get better. Those have been the post-game quotes a lot in what is now a 2-6 season, and they were the post-game quotes Sunday, too.

All too familiar. Way too familiar.

And just not enough.

"We just came up short; it hurts," wide receiver Allen Hurns said. "We did a lot of good things, but it's just in critical situations we weren't making the most of it."

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley talked about committing four turnovers and getting no takeaways. He also talked again about not playing well at critical times. He talked about self-inflicted wounds and not converting in the red-zone, again.

He summed it up in a few words.

"We just didn't make enough plays today," Bradley said after the Jaguars produced more than 436 yards of offense against one of the NFL's best defenses – and held Jets running back Chris Ivory under 30 yards – and still lost, somehow.

Quarterback Blake Bortles agreed.

"We put up a ton of yards and a lot of good stuff, but it's the plays you missed out on that you think about at night," Bortles said after completing 24 of 40 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

Bortles toward the end of his press conference summed it up in a few words.

"It was a just a case of turnovers and plays at the end," Bortles said.

And yeah, that's what it was. Bortles' fumble in the red zone in the fourth quarter was a killer. So was Nick Marshall's muffed punt. If both felt like gut punches it was because they were.

And because of those things, the Jaguars missed out on things Sunday. They missed out on a chance to win on the road for the first time since December 2013. They also missed on a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time that same month.

That's the historical stuff, but Sunday mattered on a far more important level, too.

The Jaguars missed a chance to win when it mattered. The Jets are a legitimate playoff contender. They were playing at home. This was a game the Jets needed, and for the Jaguars that meant a chance to show they could beat a good, functioning team.

Did they show they could play with that sort of team?

Yes, but they didn't show they could win because they struggled on special teams (again) and because they committed those four turnovers. That ruined a defensive performance that deserved better, and ruined an offensive performance that wasn't consistent, but probably deserved better, too.

"We expect to play consistent football and we didn't today," Bradley said, adding, "We have to do more things right at critical times."

All true, and the Jaguars still have a ways to go.

Still, Sunday wasn't the end of the season. No way. The Jaguars were 2-5 entering the game, which wasn't good. They're now 2-6, which is one loss worse, but because of this strange season in the AFC South, the division is still there for the taking.

If the Jaguars had won Sunday, they had a chance to get on a roll, to take the division.

The Jaguars lost Sunday, and you know what they still have?

A chance to get on a roll, to take the division.

The Jets game on paper was as tough as any game remaining on the schedule, and if the Jaguars figure out a way to close games, and eliminate mistakes – all of the things they have yet to do this season – this weird division can be won.

But that's not even what matters for the Jaguars. What matters is they stop playing like an immature team and start playing like a mature one. What matters is they grow into a team that can win consecutive games, and win on the road. What matters is they play more like the team they believe they're capable of becoming.

Yes, while there were good signs and positive steps, in the end for the Jaguars Sunday was all too familiar. Way too familiar.

And if the season is going to turn it just wasn't enough.

Images of the Jaguars Week 9 matchup with the New York Jets.

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