Four takeaways: Jaguars waste opportunity in a winnable game

James Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs with the ball against Mykal Walker of the Atlanta Falcons in the first half at TIAA Bank Field on November 28, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) (Sam Greenwood, 2021 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With a winnable game on the schedule, the last one for a few weeks, the Jaguars mustered only one touchdown against the Falcons in a 21-14 home loss to Atlanta. The Jaguars are now 2-9 on the season. Here are my four biggest takeaways from today:

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes

The Jaguars had opportunities to gain momentum on a number of occasions but consistently shot themselves in the foot.

Here are just a few examples:

• On a second-quarter play, Marvin Jones lined up in an illegal position, the flag was thrown at the snap, Trevor Lawrence took a deep shot and wound up throwing an interception. On the ensuing fourth down, after the Jaguars’ defense forced the Falcon’s punt team onto the field, Lerentee McCray was offside, keeping the drive alive and hurting the Jaguars’ opportunity to take advantage of field position.

• Later in the first half, the Falcons lined up to kick a field goal, but the Jaguars were flagged for a leverage call, which is a major penalty. It was assessed as a half-the-distance penalty. On the first play after the penalty, Cordarrelle Patterson ran up the middle for a touchdown. The Jaguars’ penalty cost the team four points.

• Another mistake that cost the Jaguars a chance at a touchdown came in the second quarter. After Marvin Jones’ great catch (see below), the Jaguars faced a second-and-goal from the 11-yard line. After James Robinson had fumbled earlier in the half, the Jaguars’ top running back was on the sideline. Enter, Dare Ogunbawale. He was dispatched into the slot in a five-receiver set. With a free rusher coming after the quarterback, Lawrence made the hot read and threw to Ogunbawale, who dropped a slightly inaccurate pass. The Jaguars didn’t convert on third down and had to settle for a field goal, their first points of the game.

• Once the Jaguars finally got some offensive momentum in the fourth quarter, they faced first-and-goal from the 6, only to see a holding call on Jawaan Taylor that pushed them back to the 16. They settled for a field goal that cut the deficit to 21-14.

• In the fourth quarter, down by seven, the Jaguars had forced the Falcons into a fourth down and a certain punt. But a defensive holding call against cornerback Nevin Lawson kept the drive alive and the Falcons took more time off the clock.

Marvin Jones’ catch

In the second quarter, the Jaguars faced a second-and-11 from the Falcons 30-yard line at the two-minute warning. Trevor Lawrence fired a pass to Marvin Jones who made a diving, one-handed catch at the Atlanta 9. There was a defensive holding call on the play as well, but Jones hauled it in. Other than Keelan Cole’s one-handed catch against the Patriots in 2018, Jones’ catch may have been the second-best catch in Jaguars history. Jacksonville managed only a field goal after the catch, but the catch itself was something for Jaguars fans to cheer.

Where was the creativity?

In a week that followed head coach Urban Meyer talking about the need for more creativity from the offense, we didn’t see much. The Jaguars’ best offense was handing it to Robinson. But after a fumble, Robinson sat out most of the next two drives. By the time the Jaguars were down by 18 in the third quarter, they decided to go up-tempo, which created the first touchdown of the game for Jacksonville, as well as a field goal to cut the Falcons’ lead to seven.

Defense struggles early against a bad Falcons offense

Coming into the game, the Falcons had managed only three points in their previous two games. Against the Jaguars’ defense, once the saving grace of the team, Atlanta came up with 21 points.  Atlanta piled up a season-high for rushing yards and the defense didn’t have the kind of performance they are capable of. Still, they gave the Jaguars a chance for a final drive to tie the game. One standout on defense was rookie Tyson Campbell. With fellow cornerback Shaquill Griffin not playing because of a concussion, Campbell enjoyed his best game as a pro, including his first career NFL interception.