The Jags took one of the league’s best teams in the Packers to the limit Sunday, but ultimately came up short in a nail-biter.
The Jacksonville Jaguars dropped their eighth consecutive loss Sunday against the Green Bay Packers by a score of 24-20, but once again made their performance a very watchable one for their fanbase. They started the first half with some fire and even tied the score up in the second half at 17-17.
The first quarter was a bit of a shocker as Aaron Rodgers and company struggled to get going, leaving it scoreless and trailing the Jags — although it was just by a field goal. The Packers ended up punting the ball three times in the first quarter, which marked a solid start for the Jags’ defense as they continued their progress from Week 9 against the Houston Texans.
However, when the second quarter rolled around, it didn’t take long for Green Bay to get cooking. In fact, the team was able to get on the board during the very first possession of the quarter thanks to a deep 78-yard connection between Rodgers and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
The Packers didn’t stop there, however, scoring another touchdown on a Rodgers rushing attempt and a field goal from Mason Crosby before the half could end.
As for the Jags, they had arguably their biggest highlight play of the game, which was a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown by receiver Keelan Cole. After fielding a punt deep in the Jags’ territory, he gutted their punt team and found himself in a one-on-one foot race with punter JK Scott. Cole gave the third-year punter a juke move and put him on skates, then proceeded to blaze past him for the end zone.
As a result of the return, the Jags jumped to a 10-7 lead, though Crosby’s field goal and Rodgers’ rushing touchdown put them in the lead by a score of 17-10 before the half.
In the third quarter, the Jags’ defense stepped up once again garnering a fumble and a recovery during the Packers’ first possession of the second half. The turnover came on a hustle play by first-round pick C.J. Henderson, who allowed Davante Adams to get a catch on him, then advance the football up the field. The rookie cornerback continued to hustle though, sneaking up behind Adams and stripping the ball away. Linebacker Myles Jack then scooped up the ball in Green Bay territory and advanced it up the field to their 16-yard line.
The Jags’ offense, which had previously struggled under rookie quarterback Jake Luton, then took the field and took advantage of the good field positioning with a touchdown pass. Luton was able to thread the needle and throw a strike in the middle of the Packers’ goal-line defense, hitting Keelan Cole on a 12-yard slant pattern. As a result, the score was knotted up at 17-17 at the 10:30 mark in the third quarter.
However, the Jags’ momentum continued throughout the third quarter as the defense caused a turnover on downs and also garnered an interception courtesy of cornerback Sidney Jones IV, who made several other plays for the Jags.
The offense was also able to add another field goal early in the fourth quarter, putting the score at 20-17, but the Packers ultimately were able to get a touchdown roughly at the nine-minute mark, moving the score to its final figure of 24-20.
Ultimately, it appears the game came down to the struggles of Luton, who was only 18-of-35 for 169 yards, one touchdown, and a pick. Of course, he should probably get the benefit of the doubt because it was only his second start, but there was simply little margin for error against a great like Rodgers. At the same time, the rookie definitely should remain the starter if Minshew isn’t ready to return, as there have been some solid plays made on his part.
As for the Jags in general, they fell to 1-8 as Doug Marrone continues to fight for his job. Oddly enough, this is a loss that Jags fans can once again live with as there is a bigger goal at stake: acquiring a top-2 pick and having a shot at Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields if the front office wants to take one. To be competitive in the process is a bonus the fans will gladly take — and it also further proves they are a signal-caller and a few other pieces away from being a solid team.
The Jags’ next game will take place at TIAA Bank Field against their old rivals in the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the Jags being competitive dating back to Week 7, it won’t be shocking if it remains that way again though the Steelers are rightfully viewed as the favorites.