Jaguars fend off Seahawks’ late push, take 1st place in AFC South with statement victory
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — After his second interception, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye ran to the sideline and started high-fiving fans.
Just when it seemed like he was done, he turned around, grabbed a cheerleader’s pompoms and started dancing.
Bouye and the Jaguars had plenty to celebrate.
Blake Bortles threw two perfect passes for touchdowns, Jaydon Mickens set up another score with a 72-yard punt return, and Jacksonville beat the Seattle Seahawks 30-24 on Sunday to claim sole possession of first place in the AFC South and secure the franchise’s first winning season since 2007.
The Jaguars (9-4) intercepted three of Russell Wilson’s passes, including two on deep balls, and won for the sixth time in their last seven games. The latest victory coupled with Tennessee’s loss at Arizona moved Jacksonville atop the division. It’s the first time since 2010 the Jaguars have had the outright lead this late in a season.
“We really should have (blown) them out if we’re being real about it,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey said.
The Seahawks (8-5) scored twice on long passes in the fourth quarter, with Wilson finding Paul Richardson for 61 yards and Tyler Lockett for 74 yards. The second one cut the lead to 30-24, and Seattle got one last chance to tie or take the lead. But Wilson misfired on a fourth-and-9 play near midfield.
“We had it exactly where we wanted to at the end of the game,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if it can get any better than that. That’s got to be one of the most exciting games you can watch. Shoot man, we should have won. We felt like we should have won.”
Leonard Fournette iced the game with a 13-yard run on a third-and-11 play, which gave him 101 yards on the ground. Jacksonville tried to run out the clock from there, but the Seahawks wouldn’t go quietly.
Seattle defensive tackle Michael Bennett dived at center Brandon Linder’s knees, setting off a near-melee. Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch, and Fournette went after Bennett.
More pushing and shoving ensued after Bortles’ next kneel-down, and defensive end Quinton Jefferson was tossed. Jefferson tried to climb into the stands after getting hit with what looked like a plastic bottle. Seattle coach Pete Carroll also got flagged for coming onto the field. Carroll walked into Seattle’s huddle, possibly to calm his players down.
“Nobody likes to lose, but at the end of the day, this is our profession,” Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “We have to start acting right and be professionals. That’s twice now that teams have gone against us and wanted to act out. We’re just socking them in the mouth and getting them a little upset. We’re going to keep doing it. That doesn’t bother us.”
Added Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis: “There’s no room in the game for that. You see we’re kneeling. You can get somebody hurt. We’re out there trying to kneel. There are no timeouts. You guys can’t stop the clock, so why try to hurt somebody?
“We had 60 minutes to handle that. The last 30 seconds, while we’re kneeling, you’re going to spear somebody in the legs? That’s not cool.”
During the week, the Jaguars refused to call it a “statement game” even though it was a meaningful home contest in December against a perennial playoff contender and recent Super Bowl champion.
They relented afterward, acknowledging the significance of the victory before a sellout crowd of 64,431, first full building since 2016 season opener against Green Bay.
“This is not the old Jaguars team,” Fournette said. “We are not pushovers and are going to fight back.”
Bortles played one of his best games in four seasons. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 268 yards, with TD passes to rookies Dede Westbrook and Keelen Cole. He wasn’t sacked and didn’t have a turnover.
Wilson was 17 of 31 for 271 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked twice, but knocked down way more often. It was the fourth time in 105 career games that Wilson threw three interceptions.
Seahawks: Seattle lost LB Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and LB K.J. Wright (concussion). … RB Mike Davis (ribs) was knocked out of the game briefly but returned.
Jaguars: TE Marcedes Lewis dislocated the middle finger on his left hand. … WR Larry Pinkard (concussion) was ruled out at halftime.
Seahawks: Host the Los Angeles Rams in a game that could help determine the NFC West champion.
Jaguars: Wrap up a three-game homestand against Houston.
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