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Jaguars storm past Cowboys in preseason finale, 34-14

Trevor Lawrence throws the first two touchdowns of his NFL career as the Big Cats get back on track
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Ron'Dell Carter (97) pressures as Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws a pass in the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Exhale, Jaguars fans.

Trevor Lawrence played in the Jaguars' final preseason game and did not get hurt.

And Trevor Lawrence (finally) put on an absolute clinic in the teal-and-black.

Led by the No. 1 overall pick's two touchdown day, the Jaguars (1-2) stormed past the Cowboys (0-4) in their preseason finale, 34-14 in Dallas, Texas. The Jaguars now have two weeks off before their 2021 season opener at Houston.

With three of their five starting offensive linemen sidelined with injuries, many questioned whether or not Urban Meyer should start his prodigal quarterback. But despite modest success against the Browns and Saints, Lawrence had still yet to throw a touchdown in a Jaguars uniform -- and Jacksonville's offense had yet to look in-sync.

That changed in a hurry on Sunday. 

After their defense forced a three-and-out on the Cowboys' opening drive, Lawrence and the Jags marched 68 yards down the field and capped it off with a Pharoh Cooper, 18-yard touchdown -- in just 2 minutes and 28 seconds. Two drives later, the Jaguars marched 67 yards down the field in a little over three minutes, capping that drive off with a Laviska Shenault touchdown. 

Lawrence finished 11 of 12 for 139 yards and the two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 154.5, easily his best performance since being drafted by Jacksonville in April. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has been criticized the past two weeks for not getting Lawrence and the offense in a rhythm; that changed dramatically Sunday. 

C.J. Beathard largely picked up where Lawrence left off. With Gardner Minshew now playing in Philadelphia, the back-up job has all but been won by preseason darling Beathard. The fifth-year veteran's stat line wasn't quite at the level of his previous two outings (5 of 10 for 86 yards and an interception), but he had a beautiful, 30-plus yard touchdown to Jeff Cotton Jr. called back and his interception came as he was hit while throwing to Josh Hammond. 

Jake Luton played the entire second half for the Big Cats and performed well in his longest-run of the preseason. The 2020 sixth-round pick finished 16-of-18 for 137 yards and a touchdown to Laquon Treadwell.

The break-out star of the game was easily Cotton, the second-year player out of Idaho who the Jaguars signed shortly after Training Camp began. Cotton only had three catches for 66 yards, but he almost added the touchdown throw from Beathard to his highlight reel. Josh Hammond led the way for Jacksonville with five catches for 36 yards. Devin Smith, only signed to the Jaguars roster on Saturday, had the catch of the day from Beathard, a 45-yard outstretched snag that defied the laws of gravity.

Devine Ozigbo was the Jaguars leading rusher with 68 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. James Robinson once again got the start, and carried three times for 10 yards. Carlos Hyde found the end-zone on the Jaguars' third drive, but his touchdown was negated due to a holding penalty; Lawrence then found Shenault for a touchdown on the next play. 

Perhaps most important of all: after missing two of his four field goal attempts this preseason -- and a stunning, 3-of-6 performance in Thursday's practice from field goals less than 40-yards -- veteran kicker Josh Lambo got back on track. He was perfect on extra-point duty and added field goals of 45 yards and 34 yards. 

While the Jaguars rested several of their veterans dealing with injury, the veteran Sidney Jones saw extended run at cornerback into the second half. He led the team with five tackles. Second-year linebacker and Oakleaf product Shaq Quarterman added four tackles; 2020 seventh-rounder Chris Claybrooks added three more.

Now comes the hard part: the Jaguars must trim their roster from 80 to 53 by Tuesday at 4 p.m. 16 players are eligible for the team's practice squad. The Jaguars are then off until they face the Houston Texans in their season opener September 12 at NRG Stadium.