ATLANTA - The Jaguars completed their fourth preseason under head coach Gus Bradley with a meaningless 17-15 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the final NFL exhibition game played at the Georgia Dome on Thursday night.
Jaguars rookie quarterback Brandon Allen led the depth group throughout the entire game, as Blake Bortles, Malik Jackson and the rest of the starters got the night off. The young passer finished the night 17-of-26 for 164 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The Arkansas product got past his first drive jitters and produced a touchdown on the offense's second series. Allen hit four different receivers as the offense drove 75 yards in 10 plays. The drive was capped by an excellent downfield throw by Allen to a streaking Shaq Evans. The wide receiver made the catch and took the ball 25 yards to the endzone. Following the extra point, the Jaguars led 7-0 with 4:28 remaining in the first quarter.
Allen and the offense received little rest between their second and third series, as cornerback Josh Johnson intercepted a tipped pass by quarterback Matt Simms three plays into Atlanta's next drive. The pick was Johnson's second of the preseason.
The defensive play set the offense up on Atlanta's side of the field, but the unit was unable to capitalize. After failing to move the ball on three consecutive plays, kicker Jason Myers missed a 57-yard field goal attempt.
After shutting down the Falcons offense during Atlanta's first two drives, the Jaguars defense allowed the home team to get on the scoreboard. Simms led the Falcons on an eight-play, 53-yard touchdown drive that culminated at the start of the second quarter. Running back Terron Ward was able to cap the drive with a three-yard touchdown run. An extra point by kicker Matt Bryant tied the game at 7-7 with 13:20 left in the first half.
Following the Falcons' touchdown drive, the Jaguars offered up a turnover of their own. Allen threw a low ball across the middle that was picked off by Atlanta safety Robenson Therezie. However, on the very next play, Jaguars cornerback Nick Marshall intercepted a batted pass from Simms, which gave the ball back to the Jacksonville offense.
After another failed drive by the Jaguars offense, the Falcons resumed their attack. Another short-yardage rushing touchdown by Ward capped a six-play, 55-yard drive as the second quarter came to a close. A successful extra point put the Falcons up seven points with 10 seconds left in the half. However, a fumbled kick return by Johnson was recovered by Atlanta with five seconds remaining. The recovery allowed for Bryant to attempt and nail a 27-yard field goal as time expired.
The Falcons went into halftime with a 17-7 lead.
After trading punts to start the second half, the Falcons tried to add to their lead. Despite a strong drive into Jacksonville territory, the Falcons were unable to come up with any points. Kicker Shayne Graham missed a chip shot field goal from 27 yards out.
The miss turned the tide for the Jaguars, as Allen led the offense a solid 11-play, 78-yard touchdown drive. Running back Corey Grant led the way, picking up 54 rushing yards on five carries. Wide receiver Shane Wynn scored on a five-yard pass from Allen. Following a successful two-point conversion on a throw from Allen to tight end Neal Sterling, the score was 17-15 with the Falcons in the lead with 14:57 left in the game.
Following another missed field goal by Myers - this time from 49 yards out - the Jaguars defense bailed him out. A fumble recovery by rookie defensive end Tyrone Holmes put the offense near midfield with 4:46 remaining in the game. However, the offense failed to move the ball and was forced to punt.
That would be the Jaguars' last possession of the game, as they lost to the Falcons by two points, 17-15.
Player of the Game
The preseason finale had two Jaguars MVPs and they both play the same position. Running backs Corey Grant and Joe Banyard combined for 105 rushing yards on 19 carries against the Falcons. Both were influential in keeping the Jaguars in the game after two scoreless quarters.
Stat of the Game
Kicker Jason Myers went 0-for-2 on his field goal attempts on Thursday night. However, he went 2-of-2 on extra point attempts.
Play of the Game
Wide receiver Shaq Evans went from being cut on Tuesday to being re-signed just before the preseason finale. On the Jaguars second drive of the game, quarterback Brandon Allen connected with Evans twice for 45 total yards and a touchdown. The score came on a beautiful downfield throw from Allen to a streaking Evans. He took the ball 25 yards to the endzone for the Jaguars' first score of the night.
Running back Denard Robinson was hit in the eye during the first half and did not return. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett suffered a calf injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the second half.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.