Mark Brunell: Small victory brings a sigh of relief
Jaguars' 2 field goals beat Colts in lowest-scoring NFL game of season
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It wasn’t pretty, but a victory is a victory. Two field goals and some pretty tough defense was all it took to win in the lowest-scoring NFL game of the year.
After being smothered the last time the Jaguars faced the Colts, the tables turned and Jacksonville’s defense came alive to correct its former woes. In his first NFL start, QB Cody Kessler did just enough. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue dominated.
We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. We deserve this one.
Last year, the key for the Jags defense was obviously winning the turnover battle and owning teams at the line of scrimmage. Collecting two turnovers and three sacks Sunday brought the team back to its roots, and those plays were crucial to securing a victory.
Though the offense was not able to punch the ball into the end zone, the turnovers and drive-stopping plays on third down, along with three fourth-down stops, put the offense in a position to do just enough to squeeze out a win.
The Colts’ offense has been red-hot as of late (including Eric Ebron’s three touchdowns last time we played), so dousing that fire puts the Jags back on the right path. Defense wins championships and, although we may not be winning any championships this year, this performance shows that we still have plenty of fight left.
While the defense looked like a brand-new sports car, the offense kind of looks like an old minivan: not pretty, but does just enough to get the job at hand done.
With running back Leonard Fournette suspended, rushing was an issue. The Jags could only muster 79 yards on the day, with the longest run of the day a Kessler scramble for a first down. Any way you look at it, the stats are not impressive.
But who needs ‘em? With only 11 first downs on the day, it’s hard to see where the Jags had any offensive momentum. With his legs, Kessler was able to sustain enough drives long enough to allow Josh Lambo to score enough points to win.
Converting on third down and turning the ball over have been problems plaguing the Jags this year. If you can’t keep drives together or keep the ball in your own team's hands, how could you expect to win?
Kessler pretty much only handed the ball off and threw short dump-off passes, and didn't turn over the ball. Third-down conversions Sunday, while only converting on six of 15, led to a handful of points and the defense ended up being the difference-maker in the game.
Two months of losing is finally behind us thanks to a cast of all-star defenders. The return of “Sacksonville ” is the story on this one.
A win is a win is a win, especially when it comes in the form of shutting out a divisional rival in front of a home crowd. It is hard to say what our next game will bring, but for now, we can celebrate. A record of 4-8 is a much better look than 3-9, no matter how you put it.
As always, and enthusiastically this time: Go Jags!
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