|Posted on December 10, 2017 at 7:50 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The December 10th match-up at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, pitted two 8-4 teams against one another, one from the NFC (Seattle Seahawks) and the other from the side of the AFC (Jacksonville Jaguars).
Jacksonville entered the game with a 3-2 record at home, while Seattle came in 4-2 in road games this season.
Jaguars' quarterback Blake Bortles brought a 59.8% completion percentage into the game, whereas Seahawks' signal-caller Russell Wilson took the field in Florida with a 62.4% completion percentage this season.
The team known for their defense, Seattle, has come below Jacksonville's unit, which has been sitting atop the National Football League (NFL) among 32 teams this season.
Jacksonville's defense came into this contest allowing the least amount of total yards in the NFL per game (282.5), the least amount of passing yards per game in the NFL (167.1), and the least amount of points per game in the NFL ( 14.8 ). They also have led the NFL through 13 weeks in total sacks, with 45 in 12 games, 12 sacks better than their performance over 16 games last season.
On both teams' opening drives of this game, they punted the ball away. This continued Jacksonville's now 13-game run as the only team of 32 franchises this season to not allow a score on their opponent's opening drive.
A 34-yard run that began on the right side of the line and involved multiple moves to get out of tackle situations by running back Chris Ivory switched fields for the Jaguars, who would score on a 38-yard field goal by Josh Lambo to give them the first lead of the game, 3-0, on their second possession.
On Seattle's second drive, an interesting penalty was called. After off-setting penalties cancelled each other out, the penalty "taunting an official" was called on Seattle right tackle Germain Ifedi, moving the team back to their own 12-yard line for 2nd-&-23. The Seahawks would eventually punt the ball away.
Jacksonville would move back to their own 24-yard line following the Seattle punt, due to their own self-inflicted wounds, coming from the penalty bug. There were five penalties called between the two teams within just four plays.
The Jaguars would end the first quarter with their 3-0 lead, with their offense keeping the ball away from Wilson for eight minutes and 45 seconds.
Defensively, Jacksonville forced Seattle to punt on their first three possessions of the game.
Then, on the Seahawks' fourth possession of the game, Jaguars' cornerback Jalen Ramsey ran alongside wide receiver Doug Baldwin on his route to the end zone, taking the score away with his interception.
On Seattle's fifth drive of the game, the Jaguars allowed running Mike Davis 49 yards on four consecutive carries to begin the drive.
Later on the drive, the Jaguars would be penalized inside the two-minute warning, a misstep that would place the Seahawks on the Jaguars' 25-yard line with a new set of downs. The defense would respond to their penalty by forcing fourth down.
From 38 yards away, Seattle kicker Blair Walsh would miss his first attempt of the game and Jacksonville would down the ball to head into the locker room ahead 3-0. The Jaguars' offense outgained that of the Seahawks in the first half on the same amount of offensive plays (29), with the Jaguars achieving 163 yards to 133 by the Seahawks.
On their first drive of the second half, Seattle signal-caller Russell Wilson eluded a sack attempt and tossed the ball downfield while on the move. Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye stepped in front of the passing lane and grabbed his first interception of the game. It was the second interception thrown by Wilson in this game.
The Jaguars would cash in on the investment opportunity given to them by Bouye's interception, when Bortles saw rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook by the end zone and lobbed the ball up. Westbrook caught the toss among three defenders and ran in for his first touchdown of his NFL career, giving the Jaguars a 10-0 advantage less than three minutes into the third quarter.
Seattle would get a huge helper from Baldwin when he came down with the ball close to the sideline with a defender by him, moving the Seahawks ahead 43 yards to the Jaguars' 12-yard line. But, WIlson would overthrow wide receiver Tyler Lockett in the end zone and the Seahawks would settle on a 28-yard field goal attempt by Walsh. This time, Walsh was on point, giving Seattle their first score of the game, down 10-3.
Then, Jacksonville's special teams made a huge blunder to follow, when running back Corey Grant fumbled on his kick return attempt. The fumble was forced by linebacker Terence Garvin and recovered by free safety Tedric Thompson on the Jaguars' 25-yard line.
It took just two plays from there for the Seahawks to attain their first touchdown of the game, this a 26-yard score on a pass play from Wilson to Baldwin to knot things up at 10 apiece.
Jacksonville would respond immediately when Bortles aired downfield to wide receiver Keelan Cole who turned on his jets to the end zone, even despite a push by a defender along the way, scoring on a 75-yard play, giving the Jaguars the lead right back on a drive that took a mere 11 seconds off of the clock, making it 17-10 Jacksonville with 7:21 left in the third quarter.
A sack by defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, his 11th overall of the season, coupled with a holding penalty on Seattle would force Seattle to punt for their first time in the second half. Jacksonville return man Jaydon Mickens would let the ball bounce in front of him, picking it up, and running through traffic to break away for a 72-yard, rumbling to the Seattle one-yard line. Jaguars' running back Leonard Fournette would carry it in from a yard out on the team's ensuing first down to give the Jaguars a 24-10 advantage with 14 unanswered points following the Jaguars allowing the Seahawks to tie at 10.
The Jaguars had scored those back-to-back touchdowns in less than 30 seconds combined.
Wilson sent the ball deep downfield by Jacksonville's end zone to Baldwin, but Bouye took it away with what appeared to be his second interception of the game. The officials reviewed the interception call and upheld it, raising Bouye up to six interceptions on the season, his first campaign with the Jaguars.
Jacksonville, starting on their own five-yard line following Bouye's interception, capitalized on their takeaway when Lambo sent a 51-yard attempt between both goal-posts to advance the Jaguars ahead 27-10 with 10:04 remaining in the game. On this drive, the Jaguars took seven minutes and 41 seconds off the clock from 2:45 remaining in the third quarter to the 10:04 mark of the fourth quarter.
Seattle was not done, however. Wilson went deep downfield to wide receiver Paul Richardson, who had a field of green to work with. He made one move to shake off a defender and darted into the end zone, to answer Jacksonville's previously 17 unanswered points, making it 27-17 Jacksonville after the 61-yard play from Wilson to Richardson with 9:48 left on the clock.
On the Jaguars' following drive, Westbrook would break away from single coverage and come down with the ball for a 29-yard gain on 3rd-&-3. Jacksonville would capitalize on the drive off the foot of Lambo once again, this one from 32 yards away, to give the Jaguars a 30-17 lead.
But a defense that had done so much throughout the first three quarters and change allowed back-to-back big-time scoring plays when Jacksonville gave up a 74-yard catch-and-run by Lockett off a pass from Wilson that followed the 61-yard play a drive before, from Wilson to Richardson.
The Lockett touchdown brought the Seahawks within six, 30-24, with 3:42 to go.
Defensive lineman Malik Jackson would sack Wilson on Seattle's next drive, bringing up 4th-&-9. Wilson's pass would fall incomplete and Jacksonville would take over on downs.
Fournette would lose three yards on a carry that brought about 3rd-&-11, but would respond by gaining 13 yards for the first down with 1:55 to play.
With Jacksonville wanting to down the ball and end the game, it would take a lot longer than typically anticipated, as Seattle defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and defensive end Quinton Jefferson were ejected on separate plays and head coach Pete Carroll was flagged for being on the field.
Eventually, the Jaguars were able to run the clock out on a 30-24 victory, elevating them to a 9-4 record.
The last time the Jaguars won at least nine games in the regular season was a decade ago in the 2007-08 campaign. With the win over the Seahawks, that drought is over, moving to 9-4 with more work to be done.
This is the eighth time in 23 years that Jacksonville will end the regular season with a winning record, dating back to their inaugural season of 1995-96.
It is the second winning record for Doug Marrone in three seasons as an NFL head coach: 6-10 in his first season with the Buffalo Bills, 9-7 in second season with Buffalo, and 9-4 so far in his first season as head coach of the Jaguars.
Adding a cherry on this Sun-day, the Tennessee Titans lost to the Arizona Cardinals, 12-7 on the road, giving the Titans a record of 8-5, moving them below the Jaguars, who have now reclaimed first place in the AFC South.