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Rapid Recap- Brady leads Pats comeback to end Jaguars playoff run

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that lived up to the build up, the Jacksonville Jaguars stood toe to toe slugging with the defending champion Patriots in the AFC Championship Game but came up short, as the New England won 24-20 to advance to Super Bowl LII.

Just like a week ago in Pittsburgh, the first half belonged to Jacksonville.

Even though QB Tom Brady, playing with an athletic bandage on his injured right hand, led an opening field goal drive for a New England 3-0 lead, the Jags took over from there.

Blake Bortles played brilliantly throughout the first three quarters and the Jags scored on two drives to take command of the game. The first drive was 76 yards in just seven plays and culminated with this TD pass to TE Marcedes Lewis:

The four yard score is the first of Lewis’ career in the post season and gave Jacksonville momentum.

Then after forcing the Pats to punt, another drive of 77 yards in 10 plays with Bortles using screen passes and RB Leonard Fournette running well between the tackles, they were right back in position to score.

And the rookie took care of it himself:

It was Fournette’s fourth post season TD and it put the Jags in front 14-3. He would finish with 76 yards on 24 carries.

But, you knew that Brady and company would not be kept down and they responded late in the half with a TD drive that came at a hefty cost. After a personal foul hit by Jaguars safety Barry Church up high on TE Rob Gronkowski knocked him out of the game with a concussion, the Pats capitalized.

After a pass interference call set them up with first and goal, James White did the rest:

The Jaguars led 14-10 at the break and built the lead to 20-10 on 54 and 43 yard field goals by Josh Lambo to lead 20-10 early in the 4th.

However, Brady, who finished 26-38 for 290 yards, led an eight play 85 yard TD drive that culminated with this:

The TD to Danny Amendola cut the lead to 20-17.

And, then Jacksonville could not move the ball to work the clock or get anymore points.

And, then Amendola briefly, took the game over. His 20 yard punt return set the Pats up at the 30 yard line of Jacksonville with 4:58 left.

And, Brady in an all too familiar situation, took New England in for the go ahead TD score on this great throw/catch to Amendola:

That gave New England their first lead of the game at 24-20. Amdendola finished with 84 yards on seven catches and the two TDs.

The Jags had one last chance, but after driving into New England territory, Bortles, who finished 23-36 for 293 yards was sacked on second down and fumbled, but the Jags recovered at the two minute warning.

Still it was third and 18 and after a short four yard completion, Bortles fourth down throw was broken up on a leaping play by Stephon Gilmore to turn the ball over on downs.

The Jaguars had their three timeouts remaining, and tried to stop the Patriots to get the ball back, but on third down, Dion Lewis ran 18 yards and a first down to seal the win.

Thus, the Jaguars amazing turnaround season comes to an end and the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years and the eighth time under Brady and Belichick.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL officially suspended Jaguars DE Dante Fowler one game Friday

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars got the bad news Friday afternoon, as the NFL made it official and suspended defensive end Dante Fowler for the opening game of the season against the New York Giants.

As we have been writing about, including last week, Fowler was almost certainly going to be suspended for at least a game for having entered a no-contest plea in March to assaulting St Petersburg man in an apartment complex parking lot last July.

The league notified Fowler of his punishment and the Jaguars released this statement.

This is not the first incident for Fowler, since joining the NFL He also pled-out an assault charge from 2016 in Dade County, but, did however escape NFL punishment for that incident.

Interestingly, Jacksonville had decided not to pick up Fowler’s fifth year option on his rookie contract earlier this off season. Instead, they publicly challenged him to continue to be not only a quality player, but better off the field.

Fowler blossomed during Jacksonville’s playoff season of 2017. The former #1 pick, had a breakout season with eight sacks, as the Jaguars defense was the top one in the NFL at rushing the quarterback. And, Jacksonville went on to win the AFC South and make the AFC Championship Game.

Fowler missed his entire rookie season of 2015 due to an ACL injury in rookie mini-camp just after being drafted that year. He’s a former All-SEC performer for the Gators, and is part of the young nucleus of players that the Jaguars are centering their defense around.

As with any players suspended by the NFL, Fowler will still be allowed to participate in training camp and in preseason games. The suspension will be the week of the opening games of the NFL season, and Fowler can have no contact with the coaching staff or any team activities.

 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars “cornerstone” player for 2018?

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The third installment of our “cornerstone” players series takes us to North Florida. And, as the Jaguars get ready to start up 2018, we wondered which impact player would be the one to build around.

You could make arguments for last year’s top free agent acquisition defensive tackle Calais Campbell, or lock down corner Jalen Ramsey, as being that player. However, it’s a player on the offensive side of the ball that appears to be everything that Jacksonville could have hoped for in a running back. That running back is Leonard Fournette.

Fournette, whom the Jags took fourth overall in the draft, is fantastic physical talent at 6’0 230lbs. with a blend of speed and power. And in his debut season, repeatedly showed why you would want to have your offense centered on his ability pound on a defense.

He made a tremendous impact from the beginning of the Jags breakout 2017 with a 100 yard game in the opening win at Houston, and three more 100 yard games in the first nine.

There was lull in Fournette’s productivity due an ankle injury and he also missed a game in Indianapolis due disciplinary reasons, but eventually, Fournette got back on track. He ran for 109 yards and 3 TDs in Jacksonville’s statement win over Seattle in December that clinched the first playoff spot for Jacksonville in 11 seasons.

Then, in the post season Fournette was just okay against the Bills in the AFC Wildcard game with 57 yards on 21 carries. However the next week in Pittsburgh, Fournette set the tone early and often with two first quarter TDs. He finished with 109 yards and 3 rushing TDs, and Jacksonville stunned the Steelers to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

The Jags sledgehammer back scored another early TD and finished with 76 yards rushing as the Patriots rallied to win 24-20 scoring in the final three minutes to knock the Jaguars out of the Superbowl.

Of course there will be great scrutiny on the play of quarterback Blake Bortles, and rightfully so.

However, much of the Jaguars success offensively, the identity of what they want to do, will be centered around Leonard Fournette.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Why is Jalen Ramsey Twitter feuding with NFL Network analyst?

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There is no mistaking that Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey is talented, and in 2017 he was named as an All-Pro by his peers and most recenlty in the player polled “Top 100.” So, that’s a validation that doesn’t need a whole lot else.

Yet, an NFL Network analyst and a former NFL defensive back himself, is questioning part of his game.

And, Jalen Ramsey got annoyed. Like, really annoyed.

It all began when, Bucky Brooks, who hosts a successful podcast and appears regularly on the NFL Network questioned another player, DB Casey Hayward of the Chargers, and whether he was a “transcendent talent” in coverage.

The exchanges with Hayward on Twitter Thursday went on for a bit and then, Ramsey jumped in here:

 

And, when Brooks tweeted about Ramsey and why he was drafted two years ago in the top five by Jacksonville, things cranked up on social media:

Next, Ramsey questioned whether Brooks believes Ramsey is only a product of the Jaguars “defensive system” and not of his ability to shutdown the opposing team’s top wideout, one on one:

Brooks referenced former fellow Noles All American and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders as one of those rare “lock down” corners, and of course, that someone that Ramsey, two years removed from FSU, wants to be compared to with his own game.

Brooks then explained further about his own analysis and teams/GMs/personnel executives thinking:

In the end, Ramsey, who is not bashful about expressing his opinions on or off the field, finally gave some props to Brooks for having an informed opinion:

The bottom line is that analysts get paid to analyze. And the good ones are always soliciting the opinions of others, who are actually coaching and working in the NFL Front office.

And further, if Ramsey keeps “locking down” the likes of the Texans DeAndre Hopkins, and the Colts T.Y. Hilton, who he sees twice a year, then he will continue to get the respect he wants. And, he’ll get the second contract dollars that come with it, too.

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