By Jeff Moeller, Florida Sports Wire
JACKSONVILLE – At 9:15 a.m., you could already sense and hear the buzz in the air. There were plenty of cars, trucks, and vans sporting Jaguars’ flags on the Jacksonville Streets. There were also a good amount of tailgaters in the parking lots.
Nearly four hours before game time suddenly seemed like it was in the final hour before kickoff.
This would be many of the same Jaguars’ fans that flocked and flooded training camp in August.
They were ready for the World Champion Chiefs, and they were confident their upstart defense would chase Patrick Mahomes around, and Trevor Lawrence could dissect the Chiefs’ defense.
These diehard Jags’ fans were electric to the kickoff and ready to contend with a sea of Chiefs jerseys in the crowd.
However, the Jags’ sizzle quickly fizzled.
Lawrence and the offense had trouble finding their rhythm, and the defense bent but didn’t break in a disappointing 17-9 loss before 69,615 fans at EverBank Stadium
The Jags recovered a fumble off a muffed punt and converted an early field goal for a 3-0 lead. Andre Ciscon picked off Mahomes on a deep ball inside the 10. Foyesade Oluokon recovered another Chiefs’ fumble when it appeared that receiver Justin Watson’s knee was down.
Kansas City looked vulnerable, but Jacksonville couldn’t capitalize. A major issue was giving Mahomes plenty of time to throw in the first half and only sacking him once all afternoon.
Mahomes, who didn’t have a banner day, began to weave his magic and marahed the Chiefs down inside their 10 and put the Chiefs ahead to stay at 7-3 on a touchdown pass to Watson, who was interfered with by Tyson Cambell.
He later would connect for a wide-open touchdown flip to Travis Kelce, who managed four catches in a limited, first -appearance role.The Jags did piece together a nice drive in the final minutes and closed the gap to 7-6 on the second of three field goals by Brandon McManus.
Unfortunately, it would be the Jags’ last impressive drive of the game.
Lawrence struggled throughout the game and showed some signs of his inconsistencies of last year with passes that were a yard or two too long. He was 0-7 in red zone passing, and the team failed to convert a touchdown on four trips there.
One puzzling sequence was with the Jags having the ball on the KC one-yard line, and Lawrence went into a shotgun. He lost five yards on the , and the Jags only managed a field goal.
Is the quarterback sneak not an option? Tom Brady worked it to perfection.
Then there was their fourth-and 12 on the KC 16 when head coach Doug Pederson elected to go for it, only to watch Lawrence throw a high ball to Calvin Ridley, who couldn’t keep both feet inbounds.
Pederson, who usually doesn’t hesitate to go for it on fourth down, stated a few yards further back would have changed his mind to go to McManus.
Mahomes admitted that it was an ugly win, but he and the Chiefs managed to pull it out. The Chiefs uncharacteristically garnered 12 penalties for 94 yards.
On a positive note, all-Pro edge rusher Chris Jones finally signed his pact a few days earlier, and looked like he was in mid-season form with 1.5 sacks and five hurries, tossing around Jaguar linemen fairly freely.
Jones was the catalyst for the unit that hurried and harassed Lawrence for four sacks, further disrupting his flow.
Nearly seven hours after the fans ready to erupt into figurative flames, they would only have a sense of ashes left. A potentially memorable day turned into a forgettable one.
Pederson down played any sense of panic in the air, and stated it was early in the season. He also noted that his team was angry about the outcome.
Yet, he and the Jags watched a championship level team shape a bad day into a good day.
It will soon be time for the Jags to do the same.
(Photo by Stevie Sanders/Kansas City Chiefs)