The season opener for the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars offered some contrasts: the Broncos with an identity crisis of sorts as they try to recover from the loss of wide receiver Brandon Marshall while the Jaguars simply wanted this to be a statement game in which they would want to win to get an early positive start in the AFC South.
I think it would be stating the obvious when I say that one of these teams accomplished their goal.
Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 98 yards and David Garrard was efficient, which was enough for Jacksonville to hold off Denver 24-17 at EverBank Field on Sunday.
The first quarter for both teams was inconsequential as they went scoreless. Probably more like a chess match as field position was of utmost importance early.
Business would pick up late in the second quarter when Garrard connected with tight end Marcedes Lewis on a 21-yard toss, giving Jacksonville a 7-0 lead;16 seconds later, Denver would strike back as Kyle Orton threw a touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney down the middle, tying the game at 7 with 0:!6 left in the first half. That would be the score as both teams went to their respective locker rooms.
Garrard and Lewis would hook up again – this time a 10-yard TD pass from Garrard – to increase the Jaguars’ lead to 14-7. As in the first quarter, the Broncos would come back with a score of their own, a 1-yard TD run by Knowshon Moreno which tied the game at 14. A 45-yard Josh Scobee field goalput Jacksonville up 17-14 with 45 ticks left in the third quarter.
3 minutes and forty seconds into the fourth quarter, Matt Prater boomed a 54-yard FG, knotting the affair at 17; former San Diego Charger wide receiver Kassim Osgood caught a 24-yard pass from Garrard with 7:59 remaining in the game, putting the Jaguars ahead 24-17.
While the scoring was expected, the Broncos suffered, thanks to a pair of costly penalties from defensive Ryan McBean – one a facemask as he grabbed Jones-Drew’s facemask on Jacksonville’s winning drive.
Garrard was efficient as he went 16-of-21 for 170 yards with 3 TD while Orton went 21-of-33 for 295 yards with a TD and an interception.
Jones-Drew led all Jaguars rushers with 98 yards while Moreno led the Broncos’ rushing attack with 60 yards and a score.
Mike Thomas led all Jacksonville receivers with 89 yard on 6 catches while Lewis caught 2 passes for 31 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brandon Lloyd led the Denver receivers with 5 receptions for 117 yards while Eddie Royal grabbed 8 for 98 yards.
Jacksonville (1-0) has a tough test next Sunday as they travel to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to take on the Chargers. Denver (0-1) looks to hit .500 as they return home to host the Seattle Seahawks in their season home opener – also next Sunday.