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3 things we learned about the Jaguars

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars’ faith in Jason Myers paid off in a big way Sunday.

Myers, an undrafted rookie kicker from tiny Marist College whom the Jaguars elected to go with instead of veteran Josh Scobee this year, showed the Jaguars they made a wise move. He calmly converted his third field goal of the game, a 28-yarder with 40 seconds left in the game, to send the Jaguars to a 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday at EverBank Field.

Myers had earlier made good on kicks from 27 and 58 yards out. While the last one was no more than a chip shot, it was particularly important. The Jaguars’ offense had stalled the entire second half until they drove down to the 9-yard line with 40 seconds remaining.

“I always have confidence in my kicking and I believe in myself,” Myers said. “I was actually more nervous about the opening kickoff than I was that last field goal. The guys have been great in supporting me since Day 1. I just went out there, kept my head down and did my job.

“And I really liked kicking that 58-yarder. I hit it good and the wind may have pushed it a little too. That was nice to see from that distance.”

The Jaguars set the stage for Myers’ heroics by putting together a nine-play march in just 68 seconds, going from their own 24-yard line to just inside the Dolphins 10-yard line. Quarterback Blake Bortles completed three of five passes in the drive, including 18- and 19-yard completions to wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns, respectively.

The biggest play of the drive came following a 6-yard run by running back T.J. Yeldon to the Dolphins’ 34. Linebacker Olivier Vernon shoved Jaguars tight end Clay Harbor to the ground after the play and was hit with a personal foul. That gave the Jaguars a first down at the 19-yard line with just under a minute left in the game.

Three running plays netted 9 yards, which brought on Myers, who had missed a 42-yard field goal last week against Carolina. But he drilled this one through the uprights for the win.

“It was just a dumb play by me, that was it, we lost,” Vernon said. “It’s over with man, they played better ball than us. I take full responsibilities for my actions, on to the next week.”

What we learned about the Jaguars:

1. Jacksonville has one of the league’s elite receivers in Allen Robinson. Robinson had a strong game with several highlight-reel catches. He caught five passes in the first half, good for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He was held in check in the second half, though the Jaguars just threw in his direction four times. He caught one pass for 10 yards to finish with six grabs for 155 yards. Twice he outjumped defenders and came down with the ball. A third catch he laid out and brought the ball in. Robinson has caught more passes in a game (8 against Tennessee last year) but he’s never had more than 80 receiving yards in a game. Robinson talked around the idea that this was the best game in his career.

“I expect myself to have big games,” Robinson said. “It was just about a quick memory. A quick memory from bad games, a quick memory from great games. You’ve got to bounce back. We have another week ahead of us.”

Included in his totals was a 52-yard reception that gave the Jaguars a first down on the 16-yard line and led to a Jaguars field goal. “It was early in the game and we really wanted to start fast so I just had an opportunity to make a play and I was able to do that,” he added.

2. The Jaguars offensive line must play like this in order for the Jaguars to win. Bottom line for the O-linemen that they’re most concerned about — no sacks of quarterback Blake Bortles and 123 rushing yards by the backfield. That group will take those numbers each and every outing, especially after giving up five sacks just one week ago.

This was a stronger defensive front than what they saw in Week 1 against Carolina. Miami’s front line led by Ndamukong Suh and ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon are known for putting pressure on opposing QBs. They hit Bortles several times and forced him to roll away from the pressure on some others, but they couldn’t bring him down for a loss.

Bortles had praise for the guys up front afterward. “I thought it was unbelievable,” Bortles said about the play of the O-line. “To lose your starting left tackle and give up zero sacks in a game with Olivier Vernon and Cam Wake playing on the edge is impressive. Ndamukong Suh is obviously a good player as well. I thought they did a very good job in pass protection and creating holes for the running game.”

3. The Jaguars defense is pretty good, even missing a couple of key players. Some might take exception with that statement considering the Jaguars allowed 359 passing yards. But they kept all those short passes to a minimum and while they added up to a big number, the Dolphins never threatened to score once they tallied their lone second-half touchdown on the first series of the third quarter.

Not allowing a team closer than the 38-yard line in their final six series speaks well for the defensive effort. And remember, the Jaguars are still without their best lineman in Sen’Derrick Marks and talented defensive end Andre Branch, neither of whom will likely play for another two weeks.

“Defensively, our style the way we’re built, we should be pretty good against the run,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “Not saying that teams can’t run the ball; that’s really to our strength so those are good numbers. Whenever you do a good job like that against the run, guys are understanding what their responsibilities are.”

Etc.

–PK Jason Myers wasted little time in getting his name into the team’s records book. Myers converted on a 58-yard field goal in the second quarter. That ranks second in the team’s list of longest field goals, ranking only behind former Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee’s 59-yarder against Indianapolis in 2010. “I didn’t feel anything different. I was just out there trying to hit a nice smooth ball and it went in down the middle,” Myers said. “I just wanted to make sure I got a good hit on the ball.”

–DE Jared Odrick may have played with an extra rush with this game. Odrick was with the Dolphins the past five seasons and started all 16 games for Miami a year ago. But he was a free agent and the team made no move to offer him another contract. Odrick was credited with a sack and forced a fumble that Miami recovered on its 1-yard line late in the game. That eventually led to a punt and the Jaguars’ winning drive followed. “Yeah, it did feel kind of personal. I have to tell you guys that I was lying the whole week,” Odrick said with a laugh afterward. “I grinded all week and I was very excited. It feels good to say that we got a win.”

–DT Tyson Alualu now has an offensive statistic by his name. Alualu, who often comes in as a blocking back on short-yardage situations, caught a short swing pass from Bortles for 3 yards but more importantly, a first down. It gave the 310-pound defensive tackle a good feeling. “I was looking forward to it and it’s fun it’s that first play you wish you always wish you could do more,” he said. “I was thinking if the ball comes to me, I better get this first down so I’m glad the way it worked out. I think there’s more to come like that.”


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