The Jaguars had a chance to beat the Jets late in Week 16 to earn their first victory since the brief Urban Meyer era came to an end. They couldn’t convert on their final goal-to-go opportunity in the 26-21 loss, and many questioned a decision that Trevor Lawrence made on the penultimate play of the drive.
Lawrence nearly had a pass intercepted on second-and-goal, but Marvin Jones managed to grab it off a deflection at the 1-yard line. Jacksonville was out of timeouts, so Lawrence had to hustle the Jaguars to the line as the clock ticked under 20 seconds.
The Jaguars managed to snap the ball in a timely fashion, but Lawrence chose to spike it with 12 seconds left on the clock.
It was a curious move. The Jaguars were a yard away from the end-zone and could have dialed up a quick play to set themselves up for an additional shot at a go-ahead touchdown. So why did he spike the ball? He explained the decision in-depth during his postgame news conference.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of different ways to handle that between spiking it and trying to get another play real quick on the ball,” Lawrence said. “I mean, it’s tough. I was kind of with [offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer] there, spike it and give us a chance to just think about what we really want to call get us in a good situation. So I like that and you know, and we’re on the two-yard line. One play from the two. I mean, you can’t ask for any closer — it could be on the one but I mean, it’s right there.”
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In theory, Lawrence’s logic makes sense. However, in practice, it didn’t pan out, as the Jaguars failed to get properly lined up for the fourth-down play despite having extra time to do so after the spike.
“I just think there on the last play, [we] just formationally got a little bit confused,” Lawrence said. “And then we also had a motion so it made it harder. Then we got behind the play clock and tried to get everybody set and then we had two guys in motion. I had to snap it because there was you know, it’s fourth down and there’s only three seconds when I started asking for the ball.”
That resulted in an illegal motion penalty, but it didn’t matter. The Jets declined the penalty after Lawrence’s pass fell incomplete.
Lawrence wasn’t too disappointed with the result of the game, but he lamented the fact that the team’s worst sequence of the day came on the final two plays.
“Like I said, it wasn’t clean,” he said. “For as clean as we played all day, to be that chaotic on the last on the last play is just something that we can’t do. We fight, get ourselves back in the game and have a chance to go win it, and we got to go win it. So we got to clean that up.”
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That the Jaguars weren’t able to earn the win had a ripple effect across the NFL. Had they won, the Lions would have moved into first place in the race for the No. 1 overall draft pick. By losing, the Jaguars maintained control of that selection.
Additionally, a Jaguars win would have clinched the NFC East for the Cowboys by guaranteeing them the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Eagles. Now, the Cowboys will have to take care of business themselves as they face Washington on “Sunday Night Football” — unless the Raiders can beat the Broncos in the late-afternoon time slot.
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