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Finally! Walk-off field goal breaks epic losing streak for Jaguars

Matthew Wright’s 53-yard kick with no time left stuns Dolphins, 23-20 in London

Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Dan Arnold, left, celebrates with wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (11) after Jones' touchdown catch during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough) (Gary McCullough, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Finally.

Mercifully.

Thankfully.

It’s over.

The losing streak of historic proportions is finished. The Jaguars are headed back home with their first win in a long, long time.

Jacksonville went overseas and beat Miami 23-20 in walk-off fashion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday morning, giving Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence their first NFL victories in a heartstopping finish in London.

Matthew Wright kicked his third field goal of the game, a 53-yarder with no time left, as the Jaguars shed the can’t-win label with a crunch time victory that had no shortage of big plays from every unit on the field.

It infuses the team with a much, much-needed victory entering the bye week, and, for at least a couple weeks, gets Meyer off the hot seat following a turbulent first season in the league.

“No, can’t stand it [winning]. No, I’m just kidding. I do. The actual game part you do enjoy. Obviously it’s a three-hour root canal,” Meyer said. “But Miami has a good team. They’ve been in some of the same struggles with injuries that we’ve been having, but I enjoyed — I really enjoyed that locker room after the game. I think I enjoyed that more than the actual game.”

Had the Jaguars (1-5) lost to Miami (1-5), no telling what changes could have taken place over the bye week. The 20 straight losses rank second in modern NFL history, trailing only the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 26 in 1976-77.

Instead, the Jaguars won for the first time since Sept. 13, 2020, a span of 399 days, with several huge clutch plays down the stretch, an anomaly for a tortured franchise that had been accustomed to losing in one excruciating fashion after another.

But not on Sunday.

“It means a lot, and obviously, like I said, we’ve struggled a little bit, but to get this win, have this moment going into the bye week, to do it here in London, it’s all just special,” Lawrence said. “I’ll always remember this one. My first win, out here, like it’s just hard, hard to even imagine.”

The defense, strafed much of the game by Tua Tagovailoa, stopped Malcolm Brown for no gain on fourth-and-1 with 1:49 to play at the Miami 46. That set up Lawrence and Co. with one final shot to win it. After going backwards for that drive with a sack and another loss of yardage, Lawrence connected on two huge plays to Laviska Shenault.

The second of those was significant, a blend of a quick strike and a fortuitous timeout.

With 5 seconds on the clock and facing a 61-yard field goal try or a Hail Mary, Jacksonville went with a quick strike to Shenault in the middle of the field, a play Meyer said is called “slider.” The Jaguars executed it perfectly.

“Yeah, we changed plan. We were going to do a Hail Mary or one of the Big Ben plays just a jump ball in the end zone, and I kept staring at the clock, and we practice this every week, and it’s called slider,” he said. “It’s where you get the ball, and we usually say six seconds, five seconds, and we told our quarterback and Laviska, and I had the official right there and I said, as soon as he catches and goes down, time-out. He caught it, time-out, and there was still that one second left. We practice that quite a bit.”

The play gained 9 yards, but, more importantly, Meyer was able to call timeout with one second left. That gave Wright, who hit a career-long 54-yard try just three and a half minutes earlier, a shot to win it.

He did.

Ballgame. That losing streak is staying in London.

“Yeah, so the first one [the 54-yarder] I actually thought I missed it. I was about ready to walk off the field, and then I saw the O-linemen turn around and they were all happy, so that’s when I realized it went in,” Wright said. “But yeah, the second one felt a lot better, made a lot better contact. Just happy they both went in.”

Lawrence finished 25 of 41 for 319 yards passing and a touchdown to Marvin Jones Jr. Jones had 100 yards receiving. And the tormented kickers finally had a breakthrough day.

It looked so different this time for a team that has tormented fans by finding different ways to lose.

When things broke Miami’s way — Lawrence lost a fumble on a strip sack late in the third quarter — the Jaguars were able to respond. Tagovailoa’s first throw on the ensuing drive was intercepted by Nevin Lawson, his first career NFL pick after eight years in the league. It was just the second interception of the season for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars strung back-to-back scoring drives together, getting a 28-yard strike from Lawrence to Jones with just 40 seconds to play before halftime. They got the ball to start the second half and marched 75 yards in five plays, with James Robinson polishing it off on a 1-yard touchdown run.

It almost went for naught because of a questionable play call by Jacksonville that no doubt left points off the scoreboard.

The play call that came back to haunt the Jaguars — seems like there’s always one of those — came three plays into the fourth quarter when they were up 17-13. Facing a fourth-and-2 at the Miami 9, the Jaguars opted to go for it instead of send Wright on for a field goal attempt. Miami stuffed James Robinson for no gain.

Tagovailoa marched the Dolphins 91 yards the other way and tossed a 2-yard touchdown to Jaylen Waddle for a 20-17 lead.

Kicking saved the day. Jacksonville entered the game 0 for 5 on field goal attempts between Josh Lambo and Wright.

He booted a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter to put an end to that streak. Wright’s 54-yarder with 3:40 to play hooked just inside the right upright with no more than 3 yards of distance to spare.

Jacksonville enters the Week 7 bye before returning to visit Seattle on Halloween.


About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.