The table was set.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were coming off a two game winning streak and hosting a San Diego team that had lost six in a row. Playoff contention was a reality in the AFC South. But it was quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers who came out of Sunday’s game the winners with a 31-25 victory over the Jacksonville before 59, 477 Sunday at EverBank Field.
“The key for us in yesterday’s game was red zone, third down on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. Defensively, they had five trips in the red zone, they came away with four touchdowns and a field goal, 31 points. On third down, six for 14 for 43 percent. That was the story of the game,” said Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley on Monday.
Two field goals from kicker Jason Myers made it 6-0 early. He would kick four, but also miss the extra point on the Jaguars’ final TD.
After Jacksonville regained the lead with Myers’ third field goal. The visitors scored two TDs, in just over a minute, both passes from Rivers to veteran tight end Antonio Gates for a 21-9 halftime advantage. Rivers finished 29 of 43 for 300 yards and four touchdowns. Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman also caught TD passes for the visitors.
Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles was 30 of 49 for 329 yards with his 13th interception of the season and scoring passes to tight end Julius Thomas and Allen Robinson. Thomas led all receivers with nine receptions for 116 yards and five catches for 56 yards. Following Robinson’s TD, the Jaguars’ onside kick attempt went out of bounds. The Chargers ran out the clock to seal their first NFL win since Week Four.
SAN DIEGO GAME NOTES –
Three of Rivers’ scoring passes came in the second quarter... The Jaguars rushed 19 times for 102 yards, with 33 yards by Bortles on six carries... Rookie running back T.J. Yeldon rushed nine times for 36 yards and did not have a carry in the red-zone... The Jaguars scored on their opening drive for the just the third time this year... Fans booed San Diego coach Mike McCoy’s seemingly insensitive decision to challenge the play in which Hurns was hurt and carted off field... The 21 points were the most allowed by the Jaguars in the fourth quarter this season.
WHAT WAS HE THINKING –
QB Blake Bortles twice crossed the line of scrimmage in the red zone while attempting a pass. The penalty resulted in loss of down and two field goals instead of possible touchdowns. Bortles said he never did that in his life until twice on Sunday. Despite the mental lapse his passing game is showing improvement. He has 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions so far this season after 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last year.
NOT SEEING RED –
For the Jaguars the red zone has been more like the Twilight Zone this season as they continue to have trouble scoring inside 20-yard line. In the last five games, Jacksonville has scored five touchdowns in 18 trips to the red zone. Jacksonville had it on the 4, 9, 10 and 8 and came up with 16 points. Their only red-zone TD Sunday was an eight-yard pass from Bortles to wide receiver Allen Robinson with 1:21 remaining. The Jaguars now rank 30th in the NFL with touchdowns on 15 of 36 red-zone possessions.
HURNS LEADS INJURED LIST –
Second year receiver Allen Hurns sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter. Hurns is in the NFL’s concussion protocol program. Hurns caught four passes for 42 yards Sunday and has 48 receptions for 758 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He set a franchise record by catching a touchdown pass in seven consecutive games. Hurns started the first 11 games. Otto linebacker Dan Skuta’s status is day-to-day this week. He was inactive for a second time in three games Sunday with a groin injury.
RIVERS’ RECORD –
With 300 yards passing on Sunday Philip Rivers become the 17th quarterback in NFL history to surpass the 40,000 mark for career passing yards. He passed Joe Montana (273) and tied Vinny Testaverde (275) for 11th on the passing touchdown list, reaching the number in only 158 games to become the fourth fastest to hit that milestone.
AROUND THE AFC SOUTH –
The Jaguars entered the Chargers’ game a game out of first place in the AFC South. With Houston (6-5) and Indianapolis (6-5) winning, the Jaguars are two games behind. The Texans (6-5) remain tied with the Colts atop the AFC South after knocking off the New Orleans Saints 24-6 Sunday. The Colts are tied for first place in the AFC South, due in no small part to backup QB Matt Hasselbeck’s stellar play in four victories without a loss.