New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 412 yards on Sunday in a 38-27 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It was the most passing yards the Jaguars had allowed this season and further exposed a defense that hasn’t been able to stop anyone this season. When all was said and done, the Jaguars allowed 537 yards to the Saints.
The loss came hours after the Houston Texans officially knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs, with their blow out win over the Tennessee Titans. With that, the Jaguars defense hit the field Sunday against a quarterback in Brees, who was dealing with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. When all was said and done, it was hard to believe he was injured at all. He had everything going his way, fitting balls into tight spaces at least three times, when the Jaguars’ defender was covering the receiver like a blanket and somehow, Brees would get the completion anyway. “When you’re playing against an offense like that, with that kind of precision, you have to be on the details,” said Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley after the game. “There cannot be lapses in communication in some of our simple calls. Those things showed up today.”
Those lapses happened regularly on defense during Sunday’s game. Whether it was early in the game when on a 2nd & 25, the Jaguars give up a 71-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks, who finished with 123 yards receiving and went over 1,000 for the season, or Paul Posluszny trying to get guys set, before what ended up being another big play that kept a drive alive for the Saints. “When you make mistakes against an elite quarterback, he takes full advantage of it,” Posluszny said. “To play at a high level, and be a great defense, you have to be on point all the time. When you’re not this is what happens.”
Those are just a couple of examples of a Jags’ defense that was absolutely shredded by an offense that has struggled for much of the season, leading into Sunday’s game. Running back Tim Hightower also did his part for the Saints, rushing for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Offensively, the Jaguars did some good things, mainly in the second half. They got off to a slow start, which once again proved costly, as it has all year. Quarterback Blake Bortles threw two first half interceptions. The first one was tipped, so you really can’t put it on him, but the second one was thrown right to the defender and those are the ones that Bortles needs to know not to throw. With this being his second year, those throws will likely happen less as time goes on, but right now, they are frustrating to watch. “It’s tough. You get behind like that and you’ve got to do some different things game plan-wise,” Bortles said. “I don’t really know what to tell you. We’ve got to find a way to be better in the first half,” Bortles said in his postgame press conference. “When you’re happy with the week and guys do a really good job in the preparation and to come out and start slow… I think we had 19 plays in the first half, that’s definitely frustrating.”
The second half was definitely better for Jacksonville, but as Bortles said, his team was chasing points because of their first half struggles and that meant all the good in the second half, really went for naught. The combination of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns continued to impress, as they have all season. Robinson’s day was highlighted by a 90-yard touchdown, with 4:49 left in the third quarter. It was the Jaguars longest play from scrimmage this year and the longest offensive touchdown in team history and made it a 31-19 game. He ended the day with 151 yards on six catches.
Hurns had two touchdown catches, including the final score of the day for the Jaguars. With his 106 yards receiving, Hurns joined Robinson in the 1,000 yard club, making it the first time the Jaguars have had two 1,000 yard receivers since Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith did it, in 2001. Bortles also etched his name in the record books, surpassing Mark Brunell’s record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, with 15. Brunell had 14 in 2001-2002. Bortles had a respectable day statistically on Sunday, completing 27-of-35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, his two first half interceptions and the Saints jumping out to a 24-0 lead, overshadowed his performance.
For more info: Jaguars @ Saints broadcast highlights
The Jaguars (5-10) will finish their season next Sunday, against the AFC South champion Houston Texans, at NRG Stadium. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. The Texans won the first meeting back in week six, 31-20.