JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jaguars needed quarterback Blake Bortles to come through with a clutch performance Sunday after leading rusher Leonard Fournette was benched for violating team rules.
Bortles responded to the challenge, leading the Jaguars on four scoring drives while completing 24-of-38 passes for 259 passing yards and a touchdown in the 23-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Under Bortles' guidance, the Jaguars were 12-of-18 on third down.
“I thought he was outstanding today," Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said in his post-game press conference.
"There’s one play, the free safety comes, he goes to his right and he throws an unbelievable ball for a first down. That’s not a good play, that’s a great play. I thought he was accurate. I thought he did an outstanding job, he really did. He played within his means, in other words."
Bortles' performance followed some trash talk from the Bengals. Earlier in the week, Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict told the local media that the Jaguars quarterback couldn't beat them.
At EverBank Field, Bortles proved Burfict wrong.
"During the week obviously they said that he can’t beat them," Marrone said.
"[I told him] 'Hey listen, don’t get crazy, just go out and play the game. You owe it to all your teammates. Your teammates got to pick it up. We’ve all got to play this game together as a team.' I thought he did a good job of that. I was a little bit concerned, just like if someone says something about me. You know what I’m saying? I would want to go out there and try to prove myself or maybe force somethings, and I just thought he played well.”
Bortles completed 63.2 percent of his passes against the Bengals. He has now completed at least 63 percent of his passes in four games this season. Prior to this year, he had only accomplished that feat 11 times in 46 games.
Bortles was turnover-free against the Bengals. He has produced 10 touchdowns and only five interceptions through eight games.
An outstanding performance in Week 9 is a good sign for the Jaguars and Bortles as they look to make a playoff push. In order for Bortles to stick around in Jacksonville, he will need to continue to have outstanding outings.
Due around $19 million in 2018, Bortles has the opportunity to benefit from a strong turnaround in his fourth season.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.