The Jaguars once again learned a tough lesson on Sunday, and that’s how to close a team out. Up 20-16 with 8:24 to play on the Bengals, rookie QB Andy Dalton did enough and Bernard Scott scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter as Cincinnati rallied for an eventual 30-20 win.
“Simply not acceptable on a lot of fronts,” Jags coach Jack Del Rio said. “Just put it on my shoulders. I’m not doing enough. We can’t have breakdowns like that at the end of the game. … It’s unacceptable.”
Dalton finished with 179 yards on 21-of-33 passing with two touchdowns and one interception for the Bengals (3-2), who took advantage of a poor punt to seize the lead.
Fellow rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert hit a wide-open Jason Hill for a 74- yard touchdown to put the Jaguars up by four with 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati was unable to sustain its next drive, but pinned Jacksonville deep in its own territory. A pair of two-yard runs by Maurice Jones-Drew and an incompletion forced the Jaguars to punt.
The Bengals got the ball in great field position after Matt Turk’s punt went only 22 yards.
Facing a 4th-and-6 from the Jacksonville 19, Dalton found Jermaine Gresham for a nine-yard gain. Three plays later, Scott ran it in from two yards out on the first play following the two-minute warning.
“We’ve got a lot of fight and a lot of heart,” said Dalton, “and it’s fun to see that on the sidelines.”
The Jaguars then committed a turnover as center Brad Meester snapped the ball when Gabbert wasn’t ready. Cincinnati turned the ball over on downs at the Jacksonville 14, leaving the Jaguars seven seconds with which to work.
Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins wound up returning a fumble for a touchdown after a pair of laterals to complete the scoring and send Jacksonville to its fourth straight loss.
“It’s not going in our favor,” Jaguars receiver Mike Thomas said. “A couple of things happened down the stretch and y’all know the end result.”
“A good victory. Those guys play very hard, but we were fortunate to make enough plays at the end of the game,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
Both clubs produced points on their first possession of the game as Dalton followed up a six-yard TD run by Jones-Drew with a 37-yard TD pass to A.J. Green.
The Jaguars moved inside the Cincinnati five-yard line on consecutive drives in the second quarter, but were forced to settle for two Josh Scobee field goals.
Dalton and Gresham hooked up for a three-yard TD with 14 seconds remaining before halftime. The teams, though, remained deadlocked at 13-13 after Mike Nugent missed the extra point.
The Bengals moved ahead on Nugent’s 47-yard field goal with 9:41 left in the fourth quarter.