NFL GAME RECAP

Jaguars’ defense difference in win over Giants

The Sports Xchange

September 09, 2018 at 3:52 pm.

Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) returns an interception for a touchdown in front of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) returns an interception for a touchdown in front of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Despite getting 100-yard performances from receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Saquon Barkley, the New York Giants offense struggled to do much of anything on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, falling to the defending AFC South champions 20-15 at MetLife Stadium.

Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack’s 32-yard interception return for a touchdown turned out to be the fatal blow to a Giants team that last won a home opener Sept. 18, 2016, a 16-13 triumph over the New Orleans Saints.

Jack’s interception came courtesy of a ball tipped by teammate Abry Jones, who beat Giants right guard Patrick Omameh and got a hand on Eli Manning’s pass, tipping it to Jack for the big score.

The Giants defense played well enough to keep things close, holding the Jaguars to just 13 first-half points, points that included a pair of 39-yard field goals by Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo and a 1-yard touchdown run by T.J. Yeldon.

However, the Giants defense, which also started out a bit shaky, allowed the Jaguars to chew up 12:52 off the clock on the two drives ending in Lambo’s field goals.

Not that having more time would have helped the Giants offense. New York’s offensive line, a major question mark coming into this season, had itself a game to forget, starting with two penalties committed by right tackle Ereck Flowers, who also gave up a sack.

Flowers wasn’t the only one on the offensive line to be outplayed. Rookie Will Hernandez struggled against Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell.

Most of the Giants scoring came courtesy of kicker Aldrick Rosas, who hit field goals of 27, 31 and 44 yards.

New York also got a big and electrifying fourth-quarter 68-yard run from Barkley, who benefited from a key block thrown by receiver Sterling Shepard downfield sealing off two defenders to make the score 20-15. The 2-point conversion—a rush by Barkley—coming up short.

Barkley finished his official NFL regular-season debut with 106 yards on 18 carries and the touchdown.

“Good player,” Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey said of Barkley. “Had a really good run. Runs tough, I like him.”

Meanwhile Beckham, who set foot on an NFL field for the first time since Oct. 8, when he suffered a season-ending broken ankle.

Beckham not only finished with 11 receptions for 111 yards, he also drew multiple defensive pass interference penalties. But the offense couldn’t cash in on those opportunities.

“A couple of pass interferences that could’ve been touchdowns or big plays, so that was smart on their part trying to hold him on those,” Manning remarked.

The Jaguars, who lost running back Leonard Fournette to a hamstring strain in the first quarter, more than made up for it on the legs of quarterback Blake Bortles, who rushed for 42 yards on four carries, including a 41-yard naked bootleg that was very similar to a similar big run executed by Patriots Danny Etling in the preseason finale against the Giants.

“That’s just your typical zone read that you see every once in a while,” said Giants head coach Pat Shurmur.

“You got a big, strong quarterback like Blake who can run like that. We just got to do a little bit better on the edge. We were doing a good job of stopping the interior portion of the zone read, we’ve just got to be a little more disciplined.”

The Jaguars also got 51 yards rushing and another 18 yards via the air from Yeldon, who recorded the offense’s lone touchdown.

Manning finished his day 23 of 37 for 224 yards and one interception. He was also sacked two times behind his still trying-to-jell offensive line but insisted that the offense’s struggles weren’t all on them.

“We have to come back and do what we have been doing. It is not a lack of preparation,” he said. “Me putting it in a better spot, guys making a tough catch, having everything work out. It is a combination, not one person or one thing. It is just everyone doing their job a little bit better. That is part of football. It is a game of inches.”

NOTES: Giants running back Wayne Gallman suffered a knee injury on the Giants opening drive of the third quarter and did not return. A source said after the game that Gallman is not believed to have suffered anything serious, but that the second-year running back is going to undergo a battery of tests just to be safe. … The Jaguars win marked the first time in the now seven-game regular season series that the home team did not emerge victorious.

 

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