The Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t convert on fourth and one inside Green Bay’s 15-yard line in the final seconds and the Packers held on for a 27-23 NFL opening season win Sunday.
Jaguars’ QB Blake Bortles completed 24 of 39 passes for 320 yards, one touchdown and one interception that led to a Green Bay first score. In the first half, Bortles completed 13 of 19 passes for 187 yards, the most first-half passing yards in his 31-game NFL career.
Jaguars’ second-year running back T.J. Yeldon capped off a three-play, 48-yard scoring drive in the first quarter with a five-yard touchdown run. The scoring drive was set up by a 37-yard reception by tight end Marcedes Lewis.
“I thought he ran really hard,” Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said of Yeldin’s performance.” He had to play a lot of plays that involved protection and running the ball, so a lot of the workload went on him.”
Tight end Julius Thomas caught five passes for 64 yards including a 22-yard TD pass from Bortles with 1:09 remaining in the first half. Wide receiver Allen Robinson led the Jaguars in receptions with six and finished with 72 receiving yards. Wide receiver Allen Hurns led Jacksonville with 75 receiving yards on four catches.
“There’s a lot of people hurt in this locker room” Robinson said. “We put a lot of effort in going into this week and it’s not the last week, but this is one that everybody put a lot of effort into.”
Jason Myers converted field goals of 26, 39 and 50 yards for the Jaguars.
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdowns and ran for another. Rodgers finished 20 of 34 for 199. Packers kicker Mason Crosby connected on a pair of field goals in the second half.
Defensively, Jacksonville safety Johnathan Cyprien led the team with nine tackles. Defensive end Jared Odrick made five tackles – three solo, including a sack on Rodgers. Linebacker Telvin Smith finished second on Sunday with eight tackles, six solo, including two tackles for loss.
“When you invest yourself and your feelings into a game – and invest in your teammates and body as well – it makes it tough,” Odrick said. “Especially because we know what we’re capable of. We’re capable of winning games like that.”
Bortles led the Jaguars to the visitor’s 14-yard line with 27 seconds to play in the game before a pass to Hurns on fourth-and-1 went for a loss and ended any rally. Packers safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Damarious Randall combined on the final tackle to seal the victory.
“Once again, it came down to a gutty play from our defense,” Green Bay Coach Mike McCarthy said.
Jacksonville hasn’t won a regular season opener since 2011. The Jaguars totaled 348 yards of offense to Green Bay’s 294.
Center of attention: Brandon Linder made his first career start at center after transitioning from right guard, and his first start since 2015 in New England after being placed on injured reserve last season with a labral tear in his left shoulder. Linder has started every game in which he’s played, 19 career starts – one at center, 18 at right guard, since being selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Booming Brad: Fifth-year punter Brad Nortman was acquired from Carolina. In Nortman’s debut with the Jaguars, he registered two punts for 58 yards and 67 yards, which were both downed at the three-yard line. With two punts inside the 20, Nortman has registered 93 career punts inside the 20 and his 67-yard punt in the first quarter was tied for the third-longest punt of his 65-game career.
Up next: The Jaguars (0-1) go on the road to face San Diego (0-1) Sunday afternoon. The Chargers blew a lead and fell to Kansas City 33-27 Sunday. They also lost wide receiver Keenan Allen’s in the first half with a torn ACL. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.