JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Throughout the first two weeks of training camp, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert continued to harp on the importance of being more consistent than he was during his rookie season a year ago.
After the Jaguars first preseason game Friday night, Gabbert is still preaching the same message. The Jaguars’ second-year QB gave himself mixed reviews following the Jaguars’ 32-31 win over the Giants in the preseason opener for both teams.
He was only in for three series, albeit the second one ended on one play when the Jaguars (No. 31 in the AP Pro32) fumbled the ball away on a Cecil Shorts’ end-around run. Gabbert’s first and third series had contrasting results.
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The 10th overall pick of the 2011 draft looked like Pro Bowl material in the team’s opening drive, directing an 89-yard march in 13 plays. He connected on 4 of 7 passes for 51 yards with his first three completions coming on third down plays that earned a first down. The fourth completion resulted in a touchdown.
“That’s the way you want to start football games,” he said. Not everything was perfect, but the biggest thing that matters is getting a touchdown.”
His last series wasn’t as successful. Gabbert completed just one of three passes for 11 yards and the drive was halted when he was sacked, causing the ball to pop free with the Giants (No. 3) recovering.
“I should have got out and ran. You really can’t afford to fumble the ball on back-to-back series because those fumbles led to points,” he said.
Gabbert can take some solace in knowing he outplayed his counterpart, Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Gabbert passed for 62 yards, 1 TD and had a passer rating of 102.9. Manning had 60 yards passing, no TD passes and a rating of 75.0
“I was extremely proud of Blaine tonight,” said Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey, who was awarded the game ball by the team after his coaching debut in Jacksonville. “No more pressure on him than anybody in the stadium when he walked into that huddle. And to take a team 90 yards and the things he did on third down. To do it all right and not do anything self-inflicted and move the ball down there against that defense, I was very proud of him.”
After Manning’s two series, backup quarterback David Carr took over and led the Giants to a pair of scores following Jacksonville’s two fumbles. He connected with tight end Martellus Bennett from 12 yards out, and late in the half teamed with wide receiver Isaiah Stanback for a 5-yard TD completion.
“This is a system that I’m comfortable with and that helps especially since we have a lot of young guys that are learning,” Carr said. “For me to go out and do some good things, that way, I can take more of a leadership role. You tend to play better when you’ve got a lot of young guys around you.”
There were plenty of young players on the field in the fourth quarter when the game was decided. Both teams special teams gifted the opponent by fumbling away punts inside the 15-yard line. New York recovered a muffed catch by Mike Brown at the 12 and after a penalty scored on a 6-yard pass from Ryan Perrilloux to Rueben Randle.
But the Giants returned the favor, coughing up a punt at the 9-yard line which the Jaguars turned into a field goal with 7:19 to play. At the end of the first half, the Giants muffed a punt at their own 2 and the Jaguars scored two plays later.
Third-string quarterback Jordan Palmer led the TD march with running back Keith Toston taking it in from 9 yards out with 2 minutes left in the game.
The Jaguars then went for two with Palmer connecting with tight end Matt Veldman for the winning points.
“The No. 1 thing is ball security as a punt returner,” said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. “The first thing you have to do is catch the ball. We also have a lot of people who quite frankly don’t know what they’re doing.”