Much will be made about Urban Meyer's decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal (and the subsequent play-call) just before halftime. We'll get to that in a second.
The truth of the matter? With a 14-0 halftime lead -- it's biggest lead since December 2019 -- the Jaguars defense gave up more than 300 yards in the second half alone, as the Bengals (3-1) came back and earned a walk-off win, 24-21 in Cincinnati. Former Gators kicker Evan McPherson hit the game-winner for the Bengals. With the loss, the Jaguars fall to 0-4 on the season, as head coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence are still searching for their first win in the NFL.
The rookie Lawrence left it all out on the field. While he did not have a passing touchdown, he did not throw an interception or turn the ball over for the first time in four weeks. He scored the first rushing touchdown of his career, pushing the Jaguars lead to 14-0. Lawrence finished 17-24 for 204 yards, connecting with nine different receivers. He also rushed for 36 yards on eight carries.
With veteran Carlos Hyde a late scratch, it was the "James Robinson Show" on the ground. The second-year tailback tallied 78 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns. Fellow second-year player Laviska Shenault had his best game of the season, leading the Jaguars with six catches for 99 yards, highlighted by a 52-yard catch downfield from Lawrence. Recently acquired tight end Dan Arnold was also a bright spot, adding a pair of catches for 29 yards and showcasing elite speed.
The Jaguars opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal with a little over minute before halftime, from the Bengals' one-yard line. It would've put them up 21-0. With all the momentum on their side, the decision to go for it wasn't curious. Having Lawrence line up in the shotgun and then attempt to run it in -- as opposed to feeding Robinson or lining Lawrence up under-center -- is what many will debate around the country Friday morning.
The Jaguars did lose fourth-year wide receiver DJ Chark just three plays into the game to injury. NFL Network reports it's a fractured ankle for Chark; while he's expected to be out indefinitely, estimated recovery is 4-8 weeks. Veteran guard A.J. Cann also suffered an MCL injury in the game. It's unknown the extent of his injury.
The most-hyped storyline going into the game delivered: Lawrence, the 2021 No. 1 overall pick against the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, Joe Burrow. While the second-year quarterback struggled in the first half, Burrow had just three incompletions in the second half, throwing two touchdowns to C.J. Uzomah. Burrow finished 25-32 for 348 yards. Tyler Boyd was the leading receiver for the Bengals with nine catches for 118 yards. The Jaguars did limit stand-out running back Joe Mixon to 67 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
But most of those stats -- for Burrow, Mixon, and the entire Bengals offense -- came in the second half. The Jaguars defense sacked Burrow just once -- and it came in the first half. The Bengals had four plays of 25 yards or more.
That's what this Jaguars loss should be remembered for.
Jacksonville is off until they host AFC South foe Tennessee on October 10. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. at TIAA Bank Field.