In the midst of the buildup for the showdown between offensive-minded Kansas City and the defensive-solid Jacksonville Jaguars, Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith issued this challenge: “It’s going to be the best against the best. Make your move. We’re going to make our move. Come out and be ready to play.”
Kansas City made its move and came out ready to play.
The Jaguars came out ready to play, it’s just that their moves proved to be too beneficial to the Chiefs. Five turnovers led to 10 points for the Chiefs and kept at least that many points off the board for Jacksonville as the Jaguars fell to the host Chiefs 30-14 Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had a record-setting day with 430 passing yards and 61 pass attempts, the latter a franchise record as well. But mixed in with all those throws were a career high four interceptions by Bortles, one of which was turned into a pick-six.
Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone lamented the numerous breakdowns both offensively and defensively afterwards.
“We’ve got to do a better job coaching, we’ve got to do a better job playing,” Marrone said. “We didn’t execute and they made big plays on offense. Third downs they were good early in the game to keep their drives going. We turned the ball over on offense and weren’t able to execute and the game gets out of hand. You look back and say that we could have done this or that, but give them credit, they beat us. We’ve got to get back together and get ready for next week.”
Three turnovers in the final 7 ½ minutes of the first half were just too much for the Jaguars to overcome. The Jaguars were within range of the Chiefs, trailing by just a 10-0 score until they played give-away with the football. Kansas City used two of the turnovers to score 10 points, including a pick-6 by defensive tackle Chris Jones. All three turnovers proved costly for the Jaguars. The first one was a strip-sack of Blake Bortles which the Chiefs turned into a field goal. The second came with just under two minutes when Bortles, under extreme pressure, hurried a throw into the waiting arms of Jones. He took it back 20 yards untouched into the end zone for a 20-0 lead.
The third turnover was especially crucial. The Jaguars put together their best drive of the day, a 10-play, 83-yard march to inside the 5-yard line. But on fourth down, Blake Bortles’ pass bounced off the helmet of offensive guard A.J. Cann, enabling Steven Nelson to make a diving interception in the end zone. Had the Jaguars put seven points on the board there, it would have cut the Chiefs deficit to just two scores and given Jacksonville some needed momentum going into the second half. The two picks there literally resulted in a 14-point swing, as had the Jaguars gone on to score from the 4-yard line, it would have been a 13-7 game instead of 20-0.
It wasn’t until the first series of the second half that Jacksonville forced the Chiefs to punt. Four of their five possessions in the first half resulted in a score, including two touchdowns and a pair of field goals. The Jaguars offense had success in moving the ball against a Kansas City defense that had struggled a lot this season. The Chiefs were allowing a league-worst 451.8 total yards per game, including giving up 328 yards a game in the air which ranked 29th in the league. They did nothing to help those numbers as the Jaguars passed for a net 401 yards and rushed for another 101 for a net 502 yards.
Bortles was under constant pressure throughout the game which partially led to several of the interceptions. The offensive line had trouble containing the Chiefs rush from the outside. He was sacked five times (-29 yards) and the Chiefs had another 11 hurries. Bortles also lost a fumble on one of the sacks. He also accounted for both Jaguars touchdowns, connecting with T.J. Yeldon for a 14 yard score and running 21 yards to the end zone for another.
As costly as the turnovers are, the Jaguars inability to convert drives that reached the red zone into points proved costly. Three times Jacksonville marched inside the Chiefs 20-yard line but failed to convert any of the drives into points. Twice they turned the ball over on downs and once on Bortles’ errant pass off his teammate’s helmet. Had Jacksonville settled for a field goal in those three drives, it would have resulted in a one-score difference at 30-23. That means when the Jaguars got the ball for the final time with just over a minute left in the game, they could have been driving for a tying touchdown.
The Jaguars must now regroup and get ready for another road trip. They travel to Dallas next Sunday to take on the Cowboys in a late afternoon game.