JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars exacted a measure of revenge against the Patriots, winning the rematch of the AFC championship game 31- 20 Sunday.
Here are my four biggest takeaways from the game:
The Jaguars have more offensive weapons than Leonard Fournette
On a day when Fournette did not play because of a hamstring injury, wide receiver Keelan Cole and others stepped up. Cole had seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown and made one of the great catches in Jaguars' history in the first quarter. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins also made a difference, catching a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Dede Westbrook took a crossing route and turned it into a 61-yard touchdown that put the game away. In the running game, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant picked up the slack at running back. While they weren't dominant, they were good enough to win.
The wide receivers can still be better
In the second half, D.J. Chark caught a pass, then fumbled the ball away, giving New England possession at the Jaguars' 48-yard line. Eight plays later, Tom Brady hit Chris Hogan for the Patriots first touchdown of the game. On the following drive, Donte Moncrief dropped a perfect pass that would have kept the drive going. The Jaguars punted and New England took advantage with a field goal drive to pull to within 24-13. Those are the kind of mistakes that can cost you in the long run. The Jaguars were fortunate to survive despite them.
Good Blake is good enough
When he is on his game, Blake Bortles looks like a guy who can take a team with the Jaguars defense to the Super Bowl. He was certainly on his game early. In the first half, Bortles completed 17 of 25 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns. The next step is consistency. If he can play that well for four quarters or for four straight weeks, the Jaguars will be tough to beat.
The Jaguars not only have a strong grip on the AFC South, but they are a team to beat in the AFC.
With the win over the Patriots, coupled with Pittsburgh's loss to Kansas City, the Jaguars and Chiefs look like the teams to beat in the AFC. It's only two weeks into the season, but Sunday's win sends a very clear message that the Jaguars are not a flash-in-the-pan, but a true Super Bowl contender who other teams will have to contend with.