JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If the Jaguars first two preseason games were reason for excitement, their third could be reason for concern. After getting off to a sloppy start the Jaguars recovered for a 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
On the Jaguars first offensive possession a T.J. Yeldon fumble gave the Bengals the ball on the Jaguars 38-yard line. Three plays later Andy Dalton found running back Giovani Bernard on a screen pass for a 19-yard touchdown.
Getting off to fast starts wasn’t a problem during the Jaguars first two preseason games. But on Sunday night in front of a national television audience their first three offensive possessions produced a total of nine yards.
Meanwhile, the Bengals offense had no problems moving the ball down the field. On their third possession of the game they ran 8:57 off the clock during a 16-play, 69-yard drive. The Jaguars held strong with a couple of goal-line stands. But on third down, cornerback Prince Amukmara was called for pass interference. Two plays later Jeremey Hill gave the Bengals a 14-0 lead.
Following that touchdown the Jaguars offense nearly got in the end-zone. Linebacker Hayes Pollard entered the game at full-back and snuck out of the back-field for a 1-yard touchdown reception. That play was wiped out when Pollard was whistled for illegal participation. Pollard, who wears No. 52, never reported to officials as an eligible receiver.
The Jaguars were forced to settle for a field goal and even that was an adventure. Sam Ficken, not Jason Myers was elected to attempt the 29-yard field goal. His attempt hit the left post but managed to split the uprights. At half-time the Bengals led 14-3.
“Well, we played pretty bad,” said Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles at half-time. “I do not think we did a whole lot of things. We played bad at every position and usually that is what happens when you play bad- you do not score a lot of points.”
Perhaps Gus Bradley had seen enough because both the first team offense and defense didn’t play in the second half.
The second half was much better for the Jaguars. Running back Joe Banyard and tight end Neil Sterling are fighting for roster spots. It will certainly help their cause with both players finding the end-zone against the Bengals.
After being stripped of a touchdown during the first half, Pollard made up for his error. During the fourth quarter he intercepted a pass and it returned it 62-yards for a touchdown.