JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — For a wild few minutes Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars had Trevor Lawrence in their grasp. They could almost envision him in a teal and black No. 16 jersey.
Between Ty Johnson’s touchdown run and an ensuing defensive stand, the hapless New York Jets were in position for their first win, which would have vaulted the skidding Jaguars into the coveted No. 1 draft spot.
Yes, there were still four weeks remaining in the season. Yes, Lawrence has yet to officially turn pro. And, yes, if any team could screw up losing when it needs to down the stretch, it would be the dysfunctional Jaguars.
But for a moment on another otherwise forgettable day for the small-market team, Jacksonville had something it’s been missing for the better part of two decades: Hope.
Many of the franchise’s most ardent fans were in a frenzy over the belief that the Jets might upset the Las Vegas Raiders and help the Jags land the biggest can’t-miss quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck.
It fell apart faster than it came together.
Jacksonville tied its game at Minnesota and then the Jets did the unthinkable. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called an all-out blitz on a third-and-10 play from near midfield with 13 seconds remaining and the Jets leading 28-24. Derek Carr found Henry Ruggs streaking past a rookie defensive back for an improbable touchdown.
The Raiders held on from there. The Jets fired Williams a day after his strange call.
The Jaguars (1-11) fell 27-24 in overtime thanks mostly to Mike Glennon’s third turnover of the game. It was the team’s 11th consecutive loss, two shy of tying the franchise record, but the fourth time in five weeks that Jacksonville had a chance to end its skid late.
Jacksonville hosts Tennessee (8-4) on Sunday.
Coach Doug Marrone’s team is clearly getting better, proving weekly that Jacksonville is a quarterback away from what could be a quick turnaround.
The Jaguars just need help for that guy to be Lawrence.
Jacksonville got its most pressure on an opponent all season, finishing with four sacks and 14 quarterback hits — both season highs — against Minnesota. Dawuane Smoot tied a career high with two sacks. Joe Giles-Harris, rookie Doug Costin and Adam Gotsis were equally disruptive up front against the Vikings.
The Jags raised their season sack total to 15, moving from last to tied for 29th.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
If the league’s youngest team is going to end its losing streak, it probably needs to play a cleaner game.
The Jaguars had four turnovers, allowed two sacks, missed an extra point and finished with 10 penalties for 83 yards in the loss to Minnesota.
Linebacker Joe Schobert had his best game since signing a five-year, $53.75 million contract with Jacksonville in March. He finished with 12 tackles, including a sack, and scored on a 43-yard interception return. It was his first touchdown in five NFL seasons.
Schobert has double-digit tackles in three of Jacksonville’s past four games.
Chris Conley’s fumble helped the Vikings kick a field goal late in regulation, adding to a disappointing season for the veteran receiver. Conley also has a team-high three dropped passes this season, making it unlikely he returns in 2021. He is scheduled to be a free agent, along with teammates and fellow receivers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook.
Marrone said injuries to receiver Laviska Shenault (thumb) and center Brandon Linder (ankle) were still being evaluated Monday.
16 — season-low snaps for defensive lineman Taven Bryan, the 29th overall pick in the 2018 draft. Bryan didn’t have a single stat for the first time since the season opener.
Time to start interviewing for a new general manager, possibly the most important hire in owner Shad Khan’s tenure. The next GM will decide coach Doug Marrone’s fate and, assuming the Jaguars remain at No. 2 in the draft, make the QB call between BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
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