Four takeaways: Lawrence continues to show big progress for Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (11) celebrates after a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars found themselves in another close game. For the 10th time in 11 contests they led at one point in the game, but this time, they found a way to win with a 28-27 classic over the Ravens. Here are my four biggest takeaways from the game.

Trevor’s day

While the running game struggled early, Trevor Lawrence was very accurate. He completed 10 of 12 passes in the first half, including a touchdown to JaMychal Hasty. One play that shows Lawrence’s growth came late in the first half. On a third-and-goal play, Lawrence rolled to the right. Nobody was open. Instead of forcing the ball in as he did in London against the Broncos, Lawrence threw it away. That’s progress.

In the fourth quarter, on a fourth-and-8 play, Lawrence delivered his prettiest pass of the game, dropping a long ball into the hands of Zay Jones for a 27-yard gain and a first down. It led to a Jamal Agnew touchdown that brought the Jaguars to within two with 5:55 to play.

But it was the final drive that was the signature moment for Lawrence. With the Jaguars trailing by a touchdown with two minutes to play, Lawrence directed a touchdown drive that was capped by a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones and then a two-point conversation pass to Zay Jones. I wrote previously that Lawrence needed to be better in the fourth quarter. On Sunday he was.

Lawrence finished the game 29 for 37 for 321 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. When he was given time, he was terrific. The offensive line struggled to consistently protect him. That’s going to be an ongoing point of emphasis as the season continues.

It’s a game of inches

Cue the Al Pacino speech from “Any Given Sunday.” On the Ravens first possession, the Jaguars appeared to have recovered a fumble when Rayshawn Jenkins came up with the ball along the sideline. The play would have snuffed out Baltimore’s scoring drive. Instead, replay determined that a Jaguars player was out of bounds when he touched the ball. The Ravens retained possession and it would lead to a Justin Tucker field goal. At least, the Jaguars lost three points on the exchange.

On the Jaguars following possession, they faced third and inches at midfield. On third down, JaMycal Hasty failed to gain yardage. On fourth down, Trevor Lawrence come up short on a quarterback sneak. It gave the Ravens the short field and it led to another Tucker field goal. Three more points lost.

In the fourth quarter, after recovering a Baltimore fumble, the Jaguars threw a wide receiver screen to Jamal Agnew. He was one half-block away from a touchdown but was tackled, forcing a field goal. If that block is made, the Jaguars would have had a four-point lead instead of a one-point lead.

Between those three plays, a potential of 10 points lost. It doesn’t take much. On Sunday, the Jaguars overcame those missed opportunities.

As Pacino said in the movie, “the inches we need are everywhere around us.”

Etienne’s status

Late in the first quarter, Jaguars’ running back Travis Etienne left the game with a right foot injury. Etienne missed his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. In his place, JaMycal Hasty played and caught the first touchdown pass of his career to give the Jaguars their first lead of the game. Etienne went to the locker room but returned to the Jaguars’ sideline in the second quarter. He did not return to the lineup.

Snoop Conner also got into the game in the second half and got his first regular season NFL rushes. Next week, the Jaguars could have Darrell Henderson Jr. available after picking him up this past week.

If the Jaguars are going to win some games over the final six weeks of the season, Etienne’s availability is going to be a big piece of the puzzle.

What’s next?

The Jaguars will travel to Detroit to face the Lions on Sunday. On paper, it appears to be one of the more winnable games remaining on the schedule. It will also be a reunion game for Mark Brunell. The former Jaguars quarterback and News4JAX sports analyst is now the quarterbacks coach for the Lions.