Jaguars players celebrate during the NFL football game between Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

Jaguars Hold off Saints Late Comeback to Win 31-24

The Jacksonville Jaguars moved to 5-2 on the year after defeating the New Orleans Saints 31-24 Thursday night. The Jaguars had control for most of the game and led 24-9 heading into the fourth quarter. Though, the Saints tied the game at 24 after two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the fourth. With just over three minutes in the game, quarterback Trevor Lawrence found wide receiver Christian Kirk for a 44-yard touchdown that ultimately became the game-winning score.

Jags Make Mistakes in First Half but Contain Saints

Jacksonville started quickly on offense, as Lawrence helped put together an opening 75-yard drive. The drive ended with a two-yard touchdown run from running back Travis Etienne. Lawrence threw for 60 yards on that 10-play drive, and it was the second straight game where the Jaguars put together an opening drive touchdown. That was also the first opening drive touchdown allowed by the Saints in 18 games.

New Orleans responded with an 11-play drive but did not capitalize, as kicker Blake Grupe missed a 51-yard field goal. Jacksonville got the ball back but turned the ball over on their first play of their second drive. Lawrence passed it to Kirk over the middle, but Kirk fumbled on the tackle.

Despite the turnover, the Saints went three-and-out on their next drive. The Saints punted the ball but got the ball back after recovering a muffed catch after punt returner Jamal Agnew collided with teammate Tevaughn Campbell. The Saints got a first-and-goal from the six-yard line, but the Jaguars stopped them and held them to a field goal.

The Jaguars countered with another 75-yard drive that ended with a rushing touchdown from Etienne. The second touchdown by Etienne was set up by Lawrence’s 26-yard scramble that got the Jaguars into the red zone. Lawrence led Jacksonville in rushing yards with 59, even though he was playing with a knee injury.

Needing a score, the Saints got to Jaguars territory but turned the ball over on downs after an incompletion. Both teams traded punts in their next drives and then field goals to end the half. At the break, the Jaguars led 17-6 even though they turned the ball over twice in the first half.

Saints Start Comeback but Jacksonville Responds

The Saints started the second half with the ball and had a five-minute drive that ended in a 42-yard field goal by Grupe. Unlike their first drive of the first half, the Jaguars did not muster anything on their first drive of the second half.

The Saints got the ball back on their own 13-yard line and faced a third down. Saints quarterback Derek Carr faced pressure and threw the ball over the middle of the field. The ball got batted, and linebacker Foyesade Oluokun made the interception and took it to the end zone for a pick six. Oluokun, who is the leading tackler for the Jaguars this season, made 14 tackles in the game.

The Saints were down by two scores and cut the deficit to eight after a very long 16-play drive. Even though the Saints faced two fourth downs on that drive, they converted both with rushes, including a one-yard touchdown by Taysom Hill on fourth-and-goal.

After both teams traded punts on their next drives, the Jaguars faced a 4th-and-1 just inside Saints territory. Jacksonville’s head coach Doug Pederson elected to go for it, but the Saints defense made the crucial stop to get the ball back. It took less than a minute for the Saints to score a touchdown and tie the game. Carr found wide receiver Michael Thomas, who made a brilliant catch on the left side of the end zone for the touchdown. New Orleans tied it up at 24 after Carr found running back Alvin Kamara on a flat route for the two-point conversion.

Game Winning Play

With just under four minutes left, the Jaguars got the ball at the Saints’ 46 yard-line. On second down, Lawrence threw it to Kirk over the middle. Kirk accelerated and broke two tackles, running for a 44-yard touchdown.

The Saints had three minutes left to score a touchdown and extend the game. Their offense started clicking again as they marched down the field and had first-and-goal at the six-yard line. Carr threw two straight incompletions, and the Saints faced a third down.

On third down, tight end Foster Moreau got open in the back of the endzone, but he could not corral the pass. New Orleans converted just three of their 18 chances on third downs in this game. On fourth down, Carr threw an incompletion and the Saints turned it over on downs. The Jaguars took three kneels and walked out of New Orleans with a win.

Pederson praised his team for their gutsy play and highlighted Lawrence for his performance through injury.

With this loss, the Saints drop to 3-4 on the season and will play on the road against the Colts on Oct. 29. The Jaguars will also play an away game, as they will take on the Steelers Oct. 29.

About Matt Rothmann

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