Quarterback Trevor Lawrence led the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 31-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday at Caesars Superdome, ending much concern over his playing condition.
With 3:08 left in the game, Lawrence—who entered Week 7 nursing a sprained knee from Sunday—threw Christian Kirk a game-winning, 44-yard touchdown pass as Kirk used the short crossing route to the end zone. The Jags opened the game with a 10-play touchdown drive orchestrated by Lawrence, and Travis Etienne Jr. punctuated the action with his first of two 2-yard touchdowns.
The Saints dropped to below.500 for the first time this season due to their inability to generate offense, but they managed to tie the game at 24-24 after falling behind by a score of 15.
With 21 seconds left, the Saints were stopped on fourth down at the Jacksonville 6-yard line, denying New Orleans the opportunity to tie the game or take the lead with a 2-point convert.
This season, the Jaguars‘ offensive was expected to be their strongest suit. With receiver Calvin Ridley joining a club that finished 10th in both yards per game and points scored in the previous year, head coach Doug Pederson’s offense was in its second season.
But things just haven’t clicked consistently, and the performance against the Saints was similar with what has been going on for the majority of the season: early success followed by a period of inaction. And for the past three weeks, it has nearly cost them.
In the first half, the Jaguars scored 17 points and gained 226 yards; but, in the third quarter, they only managed to muster 14 yards on three plays. The Saints were able to eliminate the gap in the fourth quarter after the defense was forced to play for over thirteen minutes in the third.
The Jaguars’ struggles with short yardage returned in the fourth quarter, when they did manage to get something going. Notably, Etienne was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play from the New Orleans 47-yard line. The Jaguars once had six of their seven possessions end in a punt or a down of the ball.
In the fourth quarter, the offense produced a play that ultimately proved to be crucial in preserving the win.
The defense, which has been playing lights out for the previous month, caused an NFL-high 15 turnovers going into the game and added one more against the Saints. However, the offense’s failure to establish any sort of rhythm led to them nearly blowing the lead.