JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Only one NFL team has a perfect road record this season: the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars are 4-0 in true road games and 6-0 away from EverBank Stadium in 2023, a spotless mark that includes consecutive victories against Atlanta and Buffalo in London last month. With a 24-21 victory at Houston on Sunday, Jacksonville locked up its first winning road record since 2007.
That could serve Jacksonville (8-3) well if it makes the postseason for the second time in as many seasons. Although landing the AFC’s top seed is the goal, going on the road wouldn’t be a concern for the franchise.
The Jaguars can’t point to any single reason for the team’s road turnaround. Maybe it’s quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Maybe it’s the roster that coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke have assembled. It’s surely not a fluke, especially considering Jacksonville had three winless seasons and five one-win efforts on the road over the last dozen years.
“It’s a great group of guys,” Pederson said. “When they’re together, they enjoy being around each other and I think that goes a long way to the success of any team.”
Lawrence said playing better on the road was a goal the team discussed before the season.
“We weren’t great on the road last year, especially early in the year for whatever reason,” Lawrence said. “That was something we thought we needed to get better at, and maybe it is something.
“When you get out here a day early, you go to a hotel. It’s just you. You’ve got time to prepare and do all your stuff, no distractions. I think there is some merit to that.”
The Jaguars would like to carry some of that success back home. They are 2-3 at EverBank, with losses to playoff contenders Kansas City, Houston and San Francisco.
They get a chance to even their home-field record at 3-3 when they face Cincinnati (5-6) on Monday night.
“The deeper into the season we get and the better we play as a football, it’s really easier for me to kind of keep the guys focused and keep their attention to detail,” Pederson said. “The minute you let up, look into the future a little bit, is when you get beat. It’s my job to make sure the guys stay locked in and present.”
Jacksonville was 7 of 13 on third down against Houston, a 54% clip that’s the offense’s second-best showing of the season. Three of those conversations came with the Jags facing third-and-8 or longer, one of their most significant shortcomings in 2023.
The Jaguars entered the game having moved the chains just three times in 41 tries on third-and-8 or longer.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Jacksonville dropped four passes against the Texans, including one by Calvin Ridley on a perfectly thrown ball in the back of the end zone. It was the fourth pass Ridley dropped in two games against Houston.
Ridley redeemed himself, though, by finishing with five receptions for 89 yards, including a touchdown and a 2-point conversation. Fellow receiver Christian Kirk and tight ends Evan Engram and Luke Farrell also dropped passes Sunday.
Josh Allen had 2 1/2 sacks against Houston, giving him a career-high 12 on the season and raising his stock even more in a contract year. Allen, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, also passed Yannick Ngakoue (39) for second on the franchise’s all-time list with 39 1/2 career sacks. Tony Brackens (1996-2003) holds the top spot with 55.
Montaric “Buster” Brown was beaten in coverage early and often against Houston receivers Nico Collins and Tank Dell. The duo combined to catch 12 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Brown was filling in for injured starter Tyson Campbell (hamstring), who has missed four of the team’s last five games. Jacksonville could use Campbell back before facing two-time Pro Bowler Ja’Marr Chase on Monday.
The Jaguars placed left tackle Cam Robinson on injured reserve with a left knee injury, meaning he will miss at least the next four games. Robinson played just 12 snaps at Houston before getting his foot caught in a pile.
The setback means Robinson, a second-round pick out of Alabama in 2017, will have missed games because of injuries in five of his seven NFL seasons.
2011 — The last year the Jaguars played on Monday Night Football. Jacksonville lost 38-14 at San Diego, its seventh loss in its last 10 games on MNF, and hasn’t landed the prime-time spot since.
Jacksonville has a chance to showcase its team and its plans for a new stadium on national television, an opportunity in which the Jaguars hope to shine.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl
Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.