The Jaguars win at the finish against the Jets


The Jaguars lost another game and their best running back, and all but bowed to get the No. 1 pick in the draft again.

The battle between the top two quarterbacks in last spring’s draft went to Zach Wilson and the Jets as they beat the Jaguars 26-21 on Sunday afternoon, another disappointing performance in a season filled with underwhelming performances.

Wilson beat Trevor Lawrence, setting the team on fire with his legs and throwing a touchdown with just over five minutes left to send the Jaguars to their seventh straight loss. The Jaguars hit the Jets’ 1-yard line with 8 seconds left, but Lawrence’s pass was incomplete and Jacksonville was called up for an illegal change in play to conclude.

Jacksonville (2-13) visits New England next week and concludes another lost season Jan. 9 at home against the Colts. The loss, provided the Jaguars don’t cause a seismic upheaval against teams contending for the playoffs next week, sets the stage for the team to secure the first draft pick for the second straight season. Detroit lost to Atlanta on Sunday, but a Lions win in one of the next two weeks would give Jacksonville the top pick.

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The Jets, who picked No.2 behind the Jaguars in last spring’s draft and took on quarterback Wilson, walked into it with an exhausted roster due to COVID-19 protocols and have still hit Jacksonville . Wilson ran for 91 yards and a touchdown, then hit Conor McDermott on a fourth touchdown with 9 minutes and 16 seconds left. McDermott, a 310-pound offensive tackle, had presented himself as an eligible receiver on the play.

It was that kind of day – again – for the Jaguars.

Dare Ogunbowale scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 5:25 left, but Lawrence came under pressure on the two-run attempt to equalize and had to simply pull away in desperation to avoid a sack. The Jets added an insurance basket to go 26-21 and packed Lawrence with a shot to lead his first real winning practice.

Lawrence walked Jacksonville from his own 25 to the other end of the field, thanks to clean passes to Tavon Austin and James O’Shaughnessey, then a 25-yard run to him. A pass to Marvin Jones was almost recovered, but Jones pulled it over the deflection to descend to New York 1. But Lawrence’s fourth pass to Jones was high and a flag came in after that.

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Lawrence completed 26 of his 39 passes for 280 yards. He’s only thrown two touchdown passes in his last nine games. The finish glossed over another tough overall Jacksonville effort.

The Jaguars gave up a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Braxton Berrios, the fourth special teams touchdown Jacksonville has allowed this season. The Texans had a 98-yard kickoff return for a score last week.

He ceded a 52-yard touchdown run to Wilson on a play that could have been stopped. But Rudy Ford stopped when Wilson leaned towards the sideline and he took the opportunity to stay in bounds and go the rest of the way. Andrew Wingard missed another tackle on Wilson at the end of his run. Wilson’s touchdown run was the longest by a quarterback in Jets history.

New York did its best to keep the Jaguars in the game.

Interim head coach Ron Middleton, replacing Robert Saleh who is on COVID protocol, missed short goals twice. The first came on a fourth and a goal of 2 near the end of the first half, and the last came on a false try to field the Jacksonville 8 at the end of the third quarter.

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Middleton played again on a fourth down call, but Wilson connected with McDermott on a one-yard touchdown pass with 5:25 left to go 23-15. Eddy Pineiro’s 20-yard field goal with 1:47 left to play saved New York from anything but winning Jacksonville.

The worst news of the day – a season-ending injury for running back James Robinson. He was injured on a play away from the ball late in the first quarter and left the game on a cart with his face covered by a towel. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported shortly after that Robinson suffered an Achilles tear.

The undrafted free agent was an excellent player as a rookie last season, accumulating 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns. Robinson has been misused by Urban Meyer and the staff this season, rushing for just 767 yards and eight touchdowns in limited action.

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