JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Despite proving they could hang with one of the best scoring offenses in the league, the Jaguars fell short of accomplishing the team's Week 1 goal of beating the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Jacksonville went back and forth with Green Bay, trading scores and highlight plays in the season opener. However, the Jaguars couldn't match the Packers when it mattered the most, as the home team lost 27-23.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed why he is talked about as one of the elite passers to ever play the game. Rodgers went 20-of-34 for 199 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing score. He was aided by the stellar play of running back Eddie Lacy. The Alabama product produced 78 total yards on the day.
The Jaguars were able to stay even for most of the game due to the play of quarterback Blake Bortles. He completed 24-of-39 passes for 320 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. Wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson combined for 10 catches for 147 receiving yards. Running back T.J. Yeldon carried the load, producing 69 total yards and a touchdown against the Packers.
The Jaguars were 3-of-4 on fourth down against the Packers.
The Jaguars started off with the ball after the Packers deferred possession to the second half. Yeldon picked up the game's initial first down after back-to-back runs. However, three plays later the Jaguars committed the team's first turnover of the season. On third-and-8, the second pass attempt by Bortles was behind wide receiver Marqise Lee, bobbled and eventually intercepted by linebacker Joe Thomas.
Situated on the Jaguars' side of the field, the Packers gained a first down on a fourth down run by Lacy. The Jaguars were then called for a "12 man on the field" penalty," which set the Packers up at Jacksonville's six-yard line. Two plays later, Rodgers scrambled six yards for a Packers touchdown. Following the extra point, the Packers led 7-0 with 9:38 left in the first quarter.
The Jaguars were unable to strike back on the next drive, as the possession's only "earned" first down came on a pass interference penalty. A sack on Bortles by Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews forced the Jaguars offense off the field on third down.
A booming punt by Brad Nortman was downed at the Packers own three-yard line, putting Green Bay in a rough spot to start its second series. The poor field position forced a quick three-and-out for the Packers and Jaguars wide receiver Rashad Greene returned a punt to his own 48-yard line to start the team's third drive.
The third time was the charm as the Jaguars started the possession with a massive gain, which led to the team's first score of the season. Bortles sold a play fake before dumping off a screen pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis. With the help of great downfield blocking, Lewis gained 37 yards on the quick pass. The big gain set up the Jaguars for a five-yard touchdown run by Yeldon. A successful extra point attempt tied the game at 7-7 with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter.
The teams traded failed drives to end the first quarter. Another impressive punt by Nortman - this time for 67 yards - was again downed at the Packers three-yard line. The bad field positioning forced the Packers into another three-and-out. The Jaguars began their first possession of the second quarter on their own 47-yard line.
The Jaguars needed four downs to get their initial first down of the drive, as Bortles hit wide receiver Allen Robinson for an eight-yard gain to move the sticks. Bortles led the offense into the redzone, working with Yeldon and Hurns to pick up chunks of yardage. On third-and-11, Bortles dumped the ball to Yeldon for a seven-yard gain, setting up a 26-yard field goal for Jason Myers. The kick was good and put the Jaguars ahead 10-7 with 7:48 remaining in the half.
The Packers picked up momentum after falling behind. Rodgers led an impressive nine-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a six-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jody Nelson. Nelson's return has been a welcome one for the Packers. Rodgers hit Nelson three times for 20 yards and a touchdown on the drive. Running back Eddie Lacy also had an impressive play where he caught a screen pass by Rodgers, bounced off Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien and ran 17 yards into the redzone.
The Packers took back the lead after a 10-0 run by the Jaguars. With 3:05 remaining in the half, the Green Bay led 14-10.
Bortles and the Jaguars refused to let up after the Packers touchdown. The offense moved down the field, posting a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the next possession.
The drive was highlighted by two beautiful throws from Bortles. First the quarterback hit Hurns for a 30-yard gain, which put the Jaguars in the redzone. Two plays later, he connected with tight end Julius Thomas for a 22-yard touchdown. After the extra point the Jaguars held a 17-14 lead with 1:09 left in the first half.
The Packers then came roaring back with a touchdown drive of their own. With little over a minute left in the half, Rodgers took the offensive down the field in five plays. Producing a 75 yards in 56 seconds, Rodgers capped the drive with a 29-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Davante Adams. The score and an extra point put the Packers up 21-17 at halftime.
Green Bay continued its success coming out of the locker room in the second half. Rodgers led the Packers on a long 13-play, 68-yard drive that was capped by a 25-yard field goal from kicker Mason Crosby. The highlight of the drive came on a 22-yard pass from Rodgers to tight end Richard Rodgers, which put the Packers in the redzone. However, they were forced to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown. Still, Green Bay's lead extended to 24-17.
A 38-yard catch by Hurns set the Jaguars up with great field position to start their first drive of the second half. The one play put the Jaguars in position to score again and they did just that. Myers connected on a 39-yard field goal to put the score at 24-20 with 6:15 remaining in the third quarter.
The Packers kept on chugging, as a 28-yard run by Lacy led Green Bay into the redzone on the team's next offensive possession. The 16-play, 73-yard drive culminated with a 20-yard field goal by Crosby. The Lacy run was one of many highlights for the Packers running back against the Jaguars. Not only did Jaguars defenders have trouble tackling him, but he was also able to speed past them. Following the score the Packers led 27-20 with 12:01 left in the game.
On fourth-and-4 at midfield, the Jaguars made the decision to go for it on their next possession. Down a touchdown in a do-or-die situation, Bortles dropped back and hit Robinson for a four-yard gain to get the first down.
Bortles kept going back to the well, connecting with Robinson at every chance he got, including another fourth down conversion. However, the Jaguars were forced to settle for a 50-yard field goal from Myers after Bortles was sacked on third-and-11 at the Packers 32-yard line.
The field goal put the score at 27-23 with 5:12 remaining in the game.
The Jaguars marched downfield with the help of a few penalties and another outstanding catch by Robinson. At the 14-yard line on fourth-and-1, Jacksonville called a swing pass to Hurns, which was stopped for no gain by Thomas.
The Packers held on to win 27-23.
Player of the Game
Rodgers was able to evade pressure with ease on Sunday and made some absolutely brilliant plays. His three total scores paced the Packers past the Jaguars in the 27-23 victory. His highlight play came on a 22-yard strike to Richard Rodgers in the third quarter.
Play of the Game
On the first play of the Jaguars' third offensive series, Bortles faked a handoff and dumped off a screen pass to Lewis. With center Brandon Linder and guard A.J. Cann steam-rolling in front of him, the veteran tight end picked up 37 yards before being pushed out of bounds in the redzone. Two plays later, Yeldon scored a touchdown on a five-yard run.
Jaguars running back Chris Ivory missed the game after being questionable with a calf injury. However, he was admitted to a local hospital with a medical issue. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey sprained his ankle and left the game, but was able to return.
The Packers had several injuries heading into Week 1. Wide receiver Trevor Davis (shoulder), cornerback Josh Hawkins (hamstring), safety Chris Banjo (hamstring) and linebacker Jayrone Elliott (hamstring) missed the game due to injury.