For the sixth time this season, the Jaguars were in a game in the fourth quarter only to lose, falling 21-17 to the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium in London. Here are my four biggest takeaways from the game:
Etienne without Robinson
In the first game since the trade of James Robinson, Travis Etienne had the best game of his young career, running 24 times for 156 yards, both career highs. Etienne scored a touchdown, turned in a 49-yard run and added three catches for 6 yards. His touchdown with 3 minutes, 54 seconds to go gave the Jaguars a 17-14 lead. If he can stay healthy, Etienne can make a big difference for the Jaguars offense and it’s likely he’ll be counted on to carry a large share of the load for the rest of the season.
Trevor’s decision making
Trevor Lawrence has produced some good games this year, but he’s still making what could be categorized as rookie mistakes. Perhaps last year was such a trainwreck that he has to go through normal NFL growing pains, but you would like to see the decision making improve. It’s gong to be a topic in the spotlight for the rest of the season.
Three plays stand out that together cost the Jaguars the game. In the second quarter, on first and goal from the Denver 1, Lawrence rolled right and forced a throw into traffic. It was intercepted on a terrific play by Justin Simmons, but the pass didn’t have to be thrown. Throw it away and live to fight another day. The interception cost the Jaguars at least three, and possibly seven points.
Then, later in the half, on a third down play, Lawrence was called for intentional grounding, taking the Jags out of field goal range. Again, possibly losing three points.
The final forgettable moment for Lawrence was when the game was on the line. With the Jaguars trailing 21-17, needing a touchdown in the final minutes to win, Lawrence threw an interception on the first offensive snap after the Broncos had taken the lead. If Lawrence doesn’t make the first two mistakes, the Jaguars might not have to throw it late in the game. You can play what-if all day long when a team loses a game, but there is no double the quarterback must improve.
Fourth quarter performance
The Jaguars trailed 14-10 entering the fourth quarter. With 7:06 to play in the game, the Jaguars went to work. Lawrence connected with Christian Kirk for a 25-yard gain. Then Etienne ran right for 11 yards to the Broncos 11. Three plays later, Etienne went in from a yard out to give the Jaguars a 17-14 lead.
But then, the defense, which had controlled the Broncos for most of the game, saw Russell Wilson connect on a 47-yard bomb to K.J. Hamler. It took the ball from the Broncos 20 to the Jaguars 33 and set the Broncos up to score the game-winning touchdown with 1:47 to play.
All that was left was Lawrence’s second interception and the Broncos ran out the clock.
Another chance to win a close one. Another loss.
The Jaguars return home to face the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field. It will be the ninth game of the season, marking the midway point of the 17-game regular season. The Raiders are also off to a disappointing start to the season. With a trip to Kansas City the following week, the Jaguars are in dire need of a win next week.