Jaguars lose heartbreaker to Bengals, 24-21, on last-second field goal

John Reid
Florida Times-Union

CINCINNATI - Just after Trevor Lawrence ran off tackle to score on a 7-yard run for his first rushing touchdown, Coach Urban Meyer pumped his fist and flashed a brief smile.

At that point, the Jaguars were in control. They had forced the jubilant Cincinnati Bengals crowd to silence. The Jaguars were up 14-0 and all was needed was to keep pushing, taking advantage of their run game and aggressive offensive line.

But there was no celebration in the end, only another gut-wrenching loss.  With four seconds remaining, Evan McPherson made a 35-yard field goal to send the Jaguars to  their 19th consecutive loss, 24-21, at Paul Brown Stadium Thursday night.

The Bengals went 73 yards on 10 plays behind quarterback Joe Burrow before McPherson delivered the knockout blow against the Jaguars. The Jaguars controlled the first half, but their defense couldn't finish the job.

It was a costly defeat for the Jaguars. They lost wide receiver D.J. Chark to a left ankle injury that occurred on the third play of the game when he was blocking downfield and got rolled up when Robinson landed on him as he was tackled.

After the game, Meyer said Chark suffered a broken ankle.

Starting right guard A.J. Cann was forced out of the game in the second quarter when he also got rolled up and suffered a knee injury. 

Game replay:A play-by-play look at Thursday's Jags-Bengals game

No. 1 pick problems:Trevor Lawrence's early season problems all too familiar for Bengals' Joe Burrow

Taking advantage of playmakers

Early on, the Jaguars showed that things were going to be different than how they performed during the previous three games. They took advantage of their playmakers. Instead of having Jamal Agnew exclusively return punts and kickoffs, he took a  on the first play on their second drive, he got a handoff and broke around left end for an 11-yard gain. He caught a 27-yard pass on a beautiful throw by Lawrence down the left sideline in the third quarter. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault was another big-play target for Lawrence. He made six catches for 99 yards, including a 52-yarder.

Sticking with ground game

The Jaguars came out firing on all cylinders. They put faith in the ground game and stuck with it behind James Robinson and Lawrence read-option runs.  The Jaguars scored three rushing touchdowns, a first for the season. Robinson, who had 64 yards rushing in the first half, scored on runs of 4 and 6 yards. He ended the game with 78 yards rushing on 18 carries, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.  

Vulnerable to big play

The Jaguars have been vulnerable to big play throughout the season and that resurfaced again after halftime. The Jaguars were unable to get pressure on Burrow like they did in the first half. Burrow had time to set his feet, find his receivers that led to big-play strikes, especially over the middle. Burrow connected to tight end C.J. Uzomah for the opening score in the second half. In the fourth quarter, Burrow connected again Uzomah, who got behind Myles Jack to haul in a 31-yard touchdown.  

Lawrence avoids turnovers

The Jaguars had been mired by turnovers, especially Lawrence. He came into Thursday with nine turnovers after three games, including seven interceptions. But he avoided mishaps. Lawrence completed 17 of 24 for 204 yards with no interceptions. But Burrow was 25 of 33 for 348 yards and two touchdowns and clearly was the difference maker after halftime. He also didn't have a turnover. 

Still learning how to win

The Jaguars had a 14-0 lead but couldn't hold it. They had a chance to go ahead 20-0, but instead of giving the ball to Robinson, Lawrence was stopped short of the goal on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1 near the end of the first half. Last week against the Arizona Cardinals, the Jaguars had a 19-10 third-quarter lead but couldn't hold it during their 31-19 loss. The Jaguars held the Bengals to 107 total yards in the first half with Burrow completing 8 of 12 for 95 yards. After halftime, the Jaguars allowed 313 total yards with Burrow completing 17-of-20 for 253 yards.