Special teams blunders bury Jaguars in 27-17 loss to the Rams

Special teams gaffes doomed the Jaguars (3-3) in a 27-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (4-2) Sunday at EverBank Field. 

The Jacksonville special teams unit allowed 14 points in the first half, which helped the Rams take a 10-point lead into halftime.

That cushion was enough to help the Rams break away from the Jaguars.

The game started off with back-to-back big plays for touchdowns. Within 25 seconds of the start, the Jaguars and the Rams were tied at 7-7.

Rams wide receiver Pharoh Cooper returned the opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown. Following a touchback, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette ran for 75 yards and a touchdown. 

The touchdown by Fournette was his seventh of the season. The rookie has scored in every regular season game he has played in so far.

Fournette finished the game with 21 carries for 130 rushing yards and a touchdown. He added another eight receiving yards on two catches.

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed 23-of-35 passes for 241 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Bortles' top target was running back Chris Ivory, who caught nine passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Marqise Lee caught five passes for 83 yards and added 18 yards on a run.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff completed 11-of-21 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown in the Los Angeles victory. He was aided by the work of running back Todd Gurley, who ran for 116 yards on 23 carries.

The two teams settled down following the early burst of scoring. The Rams punted following their initial offense possession.

The Jaguars followed suit, but a 16-yard punt by Jacksonville punter Brad Nortman set the Rams up at midfield. Los Angeles only needed to pick up minimal ground for kicker Greg Zuerlein's 56-yard field goal.

The Rams led the Jaguars, 10-7, with 8:54 left in the first quarter.

The Jaguars responded with a score of their own on the next possession. Jacksonville produced a touchdown after just four plays. 

The Jaguars traveled 75 yards in a little over two minutes. The touchdown score came on a 22-yard screen pass from Bortles to running back Chris Ivory. Following a successful extra point from kicker Jason Myers, the Jaguars led 14-10 with 6:51 left in the first quarter.

After another sequence of back-to-back punts, the Rams were able to move the ball downfield on offense.

Goff led the Rams on a 7-play, 66-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first quarter. The series was capped by a four-yard touchdown pass from Goff to tight end Gerald Everett. Following an extra point, the Rams led the Jaguars, 17-14, with a few seconds left in the first quarter.

Following the Rams' third score of the game, the two teams traded punts until 2:25 left in the second quarter. 

Nortman had a punt attempted by blocked by the Rams and the ball was recovered by Los Angeles running back Malcolm Brown. The ball was then returned six yards for a touchdown. After an extra point by Zuerlein, the Jaguars trailed 24-14.

The Jaguars tried to respond with a field goal in the closing seconds of the first half. Jacksonville was able to pick up nine yards and a first down on a pass from Bortles to tight end James O'Shaughnessy with three seconds left in the game. However, Myers was unable to connect on a 54-yard field goal as time expired.

Jacksonville was 0-of-7 on third down in the first two quarters.

The Jaguars were able to pick up their first third-down conversion of the game on the team's first drive of the second half. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the drive ended with a Nortman punt just four plays later.

During the next drive, Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith forced a fumble on Rams wide receiver Robert Woods. Jacksonville cornerback Aaron Colvin was able to recover the ball at the Jacksonville 48-yard line. The referees ruled that Woods was down and called the play dead, which meant the recovery wasn't returnable.

The ruling was overturned and the Jaguars' offense took over close to Rams territory. The Jaguars took advantage of the turnover after a pair of penalties forced Myers to attempt three field goals.

After initially missing a 41-yard field goal, the Jaguars caught a break when the Rams were called for an illegal formation penalty. The Jaguars were then called for a false start on a 36-yard attempt. 

Myers then attempted and made a 41-yard field goal to cut the Los Angeles lead to seven. The score was 24-17 with 5:16 left in the third quarter.

The Rams were able to quickly return to Jacksonville territory on the next drive. However, a sack for a seven-yard loss by Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell took the Rams out of field goal range. Los Angeles was forced to punt two play later.

On the first drive of the fourth quarter, a personal foul penalty on Rams outside linebacker Robert Quinn moved the ball upfield for the Jaguars. Following the flag, Bortles was able to connect with Lee on a 20-yard gain, putting Jacksonville in field goal range.

Bortles was sacked on second down by Rams outside linebacker Morgan Fox. The quarterback fumbled but the ball was recovered by left tackle Cam Robinson at the Los Angeles 31-yard line.

On the next play, a pass from Bortles bounced off tight end Marcedes Lewis' hands and was intercepted by Los Angeles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. 

The Rams started their next possession at the Jaguars' 45-yard line but were unable to take advantage of the turnover. The Jaguars' defense forced the Rams to punt.

On the next Jaguars possession, Fournette suffered a right ankle injury on a run. Bortles was sacked on the next play. The Jaguars were unable to make anything work to gain a first down and punted on fourth down.

The Rams drained the clock on the next possession. The 12-play, 57-yard drive ended with a 29-yard field, making it a 10-point game with 2:32 left in the fourth quarter. Gurley produced 29 rushing yards on the drive, moving the offense down the field with relative ease.

The Jaguars scurried upfield on the next possession, setting up another 54-yard field goal attempt for Myers. He missed the kick with 1:07 left in the game. Myers finished 1-of-3 on field goal attempts.

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PLAYER OF THE GAME

Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell produced five tackles and two sacks on the day. Campbell now has eight sacks on the season.

PLAY OF THE GAME

On the first offensive play of the game, Fournette streaked 75 yards to the end zone. The score was the rookie running back's seventh touchdown of the season. It was his second-straight touchdown of 75 yards or more.

Fournette is only the second NFL rookie ever to score a touchdown in each of his first six games.

STAT OF THE GAME

The two touchdown scores within the first 25 seconds set an NFL record for scoring in the modern Super Bowl era. It hadn't happened since the invent of the Super Bowl in 1967.

INJURY UPDATES

The Jaguars were without center Brandon Linder due to an undisclosed illness. 

Fournette went down with an right foot injury in the fourth quarter and did not return to the game.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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