JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Quarterback Blake Bortles spoke in matter-of-fact tones. Receiver Allen Robinson was equally subdued. Even rookie kicker Jason Myers had a ho-hum attitude.
”From our point of view, we expected this outcome,” Bortles said.
The rest of the NFL, especially Miami, was surely more surprised by Jacksonville’s 23-20 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday.
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Robinson was unstoppable early. Bortles and Jacksonville’s defense came up big late. And Myers delivered his first clutch kick, a 28-yard field goal with 40 seconds remaining that turned out to be the winner.
The play the Dolphins (1-1) will remember came after the whistle.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon was flagged for unnecessary roughness in the closing minutes, a 15-yard penalty that turned what would have been a lengthy field goal into a chip shot for Myers.
”It was just a dumb play by me,” Vernon said. ”That was it. We lost. It’s over with man. They played better ball than us. I take full responsibilities for my actions, on to the next week.”
The Jaguars (1-1) took a similar approach after the season opener, a 20-9 debacle at home to Carolina. Bortles threw two interceptions and was sacked five times. Robinson dropped a key, third-down pass. Myers missed a field goal and an extra point.
All three looked like different guys in Week 2.
Bortles completed 18 of 33 passes for 273 yards, with two touchdowns, no turnovers and no sacks. Robinson caught six passes for a career-high 155 yards and two scores. And Myers was perfect, including a 58-yarder at the end of the first half.
”Maybe nerves got to me last week; I kind of rushed stuff,” said Myers, who beat out veteran Josh Scobee in the preseason. ”I was ready to roll this week and show my teammates and coaching staff that’s not what I am and this is what I am.”
Jacksonville’s defense did its part, too. After allowing a game-tying, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the second half, the unit forced five consecutive punts.
After the last one, Bortles took over. He completed passes of 18, 19 and 9 to get the Jaguars into field-goal range.
Vernon’s penalty for shoving tight end Clay Harbor after the play put Jacksonville at the 19-yard line and needing a couple of mistake-free plays and a fairly routine kick. Myers delivered the chip shot, which helped Jacksonville avoid a fourth consecutive 0-2 start.
Miami had one final chance, but with no timeouts and lots of ground to cover, the Dolphins didn’t even mount a threat.
”It always feels bad to lose,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ”We just didn’t make enough plays out there. They did a good job. Give credit to their defense, they played hard. They did a good job in stopping the run and then put pressure on us in the second half. … A close game like that in the second half, you’ve got to make plays and we didn’t make them.”
Tannehill did his part, completing 30 of 44 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns.
But Lamar Miller ran 10 times for 14 yards before leaving with a sprained ankle. Andrew Franks missed a 42-yard field goal attempt. And Miami’s defense wilted when it mattered.
Equally troubling for the Dolphins was the way the first half ended. Leading 17-13 with 18 seconds left, the Jaguars decided to throw instead of take a knee.
On first down, Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes dropped an interception that could have been a pick-six. On third down, Dolphins cornerback Brice McCain was flagged for pass interference. The 17-yard penalty allowed the Jaguars to attempt a 58-yard field goal, and Myers drilled it for a 20-13 advantage.
Jacksonville closed out the game in similar fashion.
”They played their tails off from start to finish,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. ”Some of the things we challenged our team with last week, I loved the way they responded this week and battled and came out.”
Notes: The Jaguars allowed no sacks after giving up at least four in eight consecutive games. … Jacksonville lost CB Davon House (dehydration). The defense also played without three starters, safety Johnathan Cyprien, defensive end Andre Branch and defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks. … The Dolphins lost starting LT Branden Albert to a strained left hamstring.
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