The Jacksonville Jaguars 2022 season opened on Sunday against a familiar face in a new place. Carson Wentz led a come-from-behind drive late and helped the Commanders secure a 28-22 victory.
Wentz saw his 2021 season end when he was the quarterback in Indianapolis. The Jaguars dashed the hopes of a Colts team that thought they were playoff bound, winning 26-11.
Sunday, Wentz put all that behind him, overcoming a two-interception day to get the victory.
The Jaguars were led by second-year man Trevor Lawrence, who showed flashes of what may be in new head coach Doug Pederson’s offense. Unfortunately, Lawrence threw his only interception of the day when he threw a deep ball up for grabs that were intercepted by Darrick Forrest, essentially ending the game.
First-overall pick Travon Walker made history for the Jags becoming the first rookie with a sack and an interception in his first career game. He also had four tackles, including three solos.
It was a day of missed opportunities for the Jags, especially in the first quarter. It started on the opening drive that included a 25-yard pass to Christian Kirk and a 22-yard run by James Robinson down to the Commanders’ 13. It was a drive that ended in a field goal.
Wentz put Washington in front quickly, going 74 yards in eight plays, including a 26-yard toss to Antonio Gibson that covered 26 yards. Curtis Samuel capped the drive with a three-yard catch for the touchdown and the Commanders went up 7-3. Wentz finished the first quarter 7-for-9 for 98 yards, with that touchdown.
Washington (1-0) would make it 14-3 on their next possession as the Jags’ defense was hit with a couple of costly penalties including a roughing the passer on 3rd-and-10 that gave Washington a second life and they were able to capitalize when Wentz found Jahan Dotson from seven yards out, making it 14-3.
After the two teams traded punts, the Jags put together a decent drive that included two passes to Travis Etienne, who was playing in his first game as a Jaguar after missing all of the 2021 regular season due to injury. Etienne had 35 yards on that drive, but the Jaguars’ offense bogged down, and was forced to go for it on fourth and short, only to see Etienne drop a very catchable ball and turn it over on downs.
Washington would fumble on their next possession recovered by Jacksonville’s Foyesade Oluokun at the Commanders’ 34. Marvin Jones and Zay Jones both made catches on the drive but a fumble by Etienne went out of bounds and cost the Jags 10 yards and that made the Riley Patterson field goal attempt 37 yards and he hit the upright. The Jaguars would go to the half down 14-3.
The second half saw Washington start with a punt and the Jaguars’ offense came out with a sense of urgency, covering 80 yards in just six plays. Robinson ran twice for 15 yards before Lawrence hit Kirk with a big ball, good for 49 yards. He went eight back to him on the next play for 13 and looked to Robinson a couple of plays later, completing an easy three-yard pass for the touchdown, closing the gap to 14-9. The Jaguars’ two-point conversion was no good.
After another Commander’s punt, the Jaguars would drive 55 yards in 5 ½ minutes, resulting in a 43-yard field goal by Patterson. Marvin Jones had a first down catch on the drive and the Jags were helped by an unnecessary roughness call. The field goal made it 14-12.
Tyson Campbell picked Wentz off on the ensuing drive and the Jaguars started at the Washington 45. They would have to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Patterson and a 15-14 lead.
Wentz would be intercepted again on the first play of the next drive as Walker jumped the route and reached out to snatch the ball away. It was a heads-up play by the rookie and immediately led to an 11-yard run by Robinson. The extra point gave the Jaguars a 22-14 lead.
Unfortunately, Wentz answered just a few plays into the Commanders’ next drive, hitting Terry McLaurin for a 49-yard touchdown. The conversion try failed and the Jaguars had a 22-20 lead.
Lawrence was sacked on the next drive forcing a Jaguars punt. Washington would put together a nice drive that culminated in a Wentz to Dotson connection good for a 24-yard touchdown. Washington would get the two-point conversion and led 28-22 with 1:56 left.
Lawrence did have one more chance but made an ill-advised throw downfield that was intended for Kirk but easily intercepted.
Lawrence finished 24-of-42 for 275 yards. He played well at times, but let’s be honest, his growth was stunted last year by the Urban Meyer debacle.
Technically, he is not a rookie, but he should get a mulligan. Pederson played the position and will help Lawrence grow into the position.
Many people expect Lawrence to fail, including Jaguars fans, but if you hold that first season against him, you are not being realistic or fair. This season will be the test.
James Robinson carried 11 times for 66 yards and a touchdown. Etienne had four carries for 47 yards in his debut including a 27-yard run. He showed that he belongs and will be fine in this offense.
Kirk was the Jaguars’ biggest offensive weapon, catching six balls for 117 yards. Zay Jones also had six catches for 65 yards.
Next up for the Jaguars is their home opener against the Colts on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
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