The Jaguars, despite being favored, entered their week 14 matchup with the Seahawks with something to prove. Let's take a look at how it all went down in the Jaguars 30-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
1. The passing game is gaining momentum.
The Jaguars aerial attack has been hit and miss so far in 2017. But for the last two weeks Blake Bortles and the Jaguars receivers have played at an elite level. Bortles has been nothing short of fantastic in the Jaguars recent wins over the Colts and Seahawks. Yesterday, Bortles made the vaunted Seahawks defense look like child's play. He put up 268 passing yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, completing 66% of his passes. His receivers played well too. Keelan Cole reminded us all why he such a star in training camp and preseason with a 75 yard catch and run, beating All-Pro safety Earl Thomas to the end zone. Dede Westbrook also found the end zone for the first time in his career, while Marqise Lee chipped in 5 catches for 65 yards. The Jaguars passing attack has serious momentum after consecutive big time performances and is now an area of the team that shouldn't be considered a weakness, but instead a strength.
2. The offensive line deserves a ton of credit.
The Jaguars offensive line has been banged up for much of the season, but they've been fighting through their injury issues and for the first time in over a month the original starting offensive line was able to take the field. The performance of that unit helped Blake Bortles and the passing game tremendously in this one. They put up a clean sheet against one of the most feared defensive fronts in football. Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, Frank Clark and co. were completely ineffective against the offensive line. Not only did the big uglies take care of business in pass protection, but they were able to drive the Seahawks off the ball in the run game too. This was a fantastic performance against the best team they've played all year - a team that steamrolled the 11-2 Philadelphia Eagles just a week ago.
3. Speaking of the running game...
It appears the running game is back on track. This has a lot to do with the Jaguars offensive line being back at full strength, but also the will and grit of Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory. The two backs looked more like the wrecking crew that we saw at the beginning of the season than the subpar group of runners that we have seen since Leonard Fournette's week six ankle injury. The Seahawks are fantastic against the run - with a dominant group up front and Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright flying around the field - few teams have had success on the ground against this bunch. But Fournette, Ivory, and the offensive line took it to the Seahawks, and Seattle didn't have an answer. Fournette carried the ball 24 times for 101 yards and a score. He kept the offense on track for much of the night, while Chris Ivory chipped in when his number was called. He finished with six carries for 48 yards, including a big 34 yard run early in the game.
4. Is the Jaguars defense better than advertised?
Sure, the Jaguars defense had some mental lapses in this one. The big play to Tyler Lockett that got the Seahawks back within striking distance late in the game was inexcusable. So was the 61 yard touchdown pass caught by Paul Richardson. But it's nearly impossible to hold Russell Wilson down for a whole game. Outside of those couple of plays and a disappointing effort by the defense at the end of the first half (that ended up leading to no points due to a missed field goal) the defense was fantastic. The Sacksonville defensive line brought the fight to the Seahawks and the 'Hawks didn't have a chance. The Jags only sacked Russell Wilson two times, but that number would have doubled but for a couple of questionable hands to the face penalties. Wilson was scrambling for his life for much of the day. He finished with 271 passing yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. Two of those picks came from AJ Bouye, who continues to show just how a great a pickup he was this offseason for the Jaguars, while the other interception came from Jalen Ramsey. All three picks were impressive and showed just how great this secondary can be.
5. There was a lack of class shown by Seahawks players and Jaguars fans at the end of the game.
It's time to grow up, folks. The Seahawks were embarrassed by the Jaguars for much of the day and by the end of the game their players had seen enough. They began taking cheap shots at Jaguars, highlighted by Michael Bennett diving at Brandon Linder's knees when the Jaguars were in victory formation. That type of play is widely viewed as a cheap shot and an unnecessary risk. After several scrums on the field in the waning moments of the game a couple of bone head Jaguars fans did something no fan or person should ever do. They threw trash onto the field, aiming specifically for Seahawks defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, who had just been ejected from the game. Jefferson proceeded to try and climb the wall from the field to the seats and go after Jaguars fans.
The Jaguars players played with class and dignity on Sunday, but the actions of a few dumb fans now reflects poorly on the entire fan base. It's time for everyone to grow up. Seahawks players should never have lost control of their behavior, and Jaguars fans should never, ever throw objects onto the field or at a player.
Let's move on from this and show the world how great the fans in Jacksonville truly are.
Stay tuned for more.
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