|Posted on January 9, 2022 at 4:10 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
It has been a long season in Jacksonville for the Jaguars, to say the least.
The hiring of college football champion coach Urban Meyer, who won with the Florida Gators (SEC) and Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten), ended with his firing before his only season with the Jaguars ended.
A team that had the first pick in the 2021 National Football League (NFL) Draft entered their final game of the 2021-22 season with potentially being the last team in the NFL once again, gaining the first pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.
One season ago, Jacksonville was 1-15.
They came into their home stadium at TIAA Bank Field at 2-14 for this match-up with AFC South divisional foe, the Indianapolis Colts.
An interim head coach in Darrell Bevell, who had been hired by Meyer to be his offensive coordinator, was leading the Jaguars out for one more ride, to end on a high note with something to build upon, a pebble of hope for what is to come.
The Jaguars opemed things up by scoring on the first drive of the game when rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence found wide receiver Laquon Treadwell on 2nd-&-Goal from the Colts' two-yard line, giving them the first lead of the game, at 7-0.
Another positive on this opening drive is that Jacksonville took close to half of the time off of the first-quarter game clock, running their 12-play, 75-yard drive from the 15-minute mark to 7:48 left in the quarter.
Indianapolis decided to go for it on 4th-&-2 and were stopped, giving Jacksonville possession by midfield, on their own 41, inside six minutes left in the first quarter.
After a punt by the Jaguars on their second drive of the contest, the Colts would lead their own 7+ minute drive, getting their first score of the game when Michael Badgley cashed in from 41 yards away at the 9:12 mark of the second quarter, bringing the score to 7-3 Jaguars.
When Jacksonville took their first timeout of the half at the 5:33 mark of the second quarter, Lawrence was 13-for-14 passing.
Lawrence would come out of the timeout completing his 14th pass of the game, going down middle to wide receiver Marvin Jones, Jr., for a 29-yard gain to the Colts' 12. He would end this drive 4-for-5 and the team would conclude the drive with a 22-yard field goal from Matthew Wright to extent Jacksonville out to a 10-3 lead with 3:06 before half.
At this time, Lawrence was 15-for-17 passing, and it would have been 16 completions if the completed pass to Jones was not out-of-bounds.
The Jaguars would take an 11-play, 71-yard drive to the end of the first half, with Wright getting his second field goal of the contest, connecting from 20 yards out, giving the Jaguars a 10-point advantage at the half, 13-3.
Lawrence was 19-for-25 in the first half, with 208 passing yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He would have had 20 completions if not for the drop by Laviska Shenault, Jr., at the conclusion of the first half.
Outside linebacker Josh Allen had two sacks in the opening half on Colts' quarterback Carson Wentz.
Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor was held to 18 yards on eight carries in the first half, and no touchdowns.
The Jaguars would begin the second half by thwarting the Colts' hopes at a score, with linebacker Damien Wilson sacking Wentz for a loss of nine yards and forcing him to fumble. Nose tackle DaVon Hamilton would recover the ball on the Colts' 23-yard line.
Jacksonville would capitalize with their third field goal of the game, with Wright booting it through from 39 yards away, giving them a 16-3 lead at the 11:36 mark of the third quarter.
Immediately following the Jaguars' punt on their next drive, Wentz would have his pass attempt to tight end Mo-Alie Cox thwarted by Wilson, who would intercept Wentz on first down, giving the Jaguars the ball on the Colts' 45.
Running back Ryquell Armstead, who was called back to the team during this season, would be called upon for all three carries on this drive, taking the first of them 26 yards to the Indianapolis 19-yard line.
Lawrence went 3-for-3 on this drive, with the final completion going to Jones for a three-yard touchdown, the team's second touchdown of the game, clawing the Jaguars out to a 20-point advantage, 23-3, with 3:08 left in the third quarter.
The Colts would take a drive out of the third quarter and into the beginning of the fourth quarter, but they would not take it into the end zone. Running back Jonathan Taylor, who came into this match-up with 1,734 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns, was held out of the end zone on 4th-&-1 at the Jaguars' one-yard line.
Wright would tack on his fourth field goal of the game from 31 yards away, going 4-for-4 on the day, and advancing Jacksonville out to a 26-3 with 8:20 remaining in the game.
Almost four minutes later, at the 4:26 mark, the Colts would reach the end zone for the first time in the game, when Wentz connected with wide receiver Michael Pittman, Jr., from 12 yards out. Pittman would also reel in the two-point attempt, making it 26-11 Jaguars.
Bevell would elect to go for it on 4th-&-2 and Lawrence would keep it for the first down, securing the victory for the hometown Jaguars, giving them a 3-14 record for this season.
Lawrence finished the game 23-for-32 with 223 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Worth noting, those nine incompletions included more than one drop by his receivers.
Adding onto the victory, Jacksonville will still receive the #1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft thanks to the Detroit Lions defeating the Green Bay Packers in their season finale.
Congratulations to Darrell Bevell, attaining a win as interim head coach of the team.
The Jaguars found a way to win, gain momentum for next season, and, with a little help from fellow cats, the Lions, secured the best draft capital in the game.
Who would have seen this coming?
It has been a long season in Duval.
But this one has a happy ending... and a new beginning.