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Long night in Atlanta

Posted Dec 16, 2011

Jaguars fall behind early in 41-14 loss to Falcons at Georgia Dome

ATLANTA, Ga. – Paul Posluszny put it simply, succinctly.

Poslusnzy, the Jaguars’ middle linebacker, said so much went wrong so quickly, so definitely, so decidedly during the Jaguars’ 41-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome Thursday night that there was little need for many complex, long explanations.

The Jaguars didn’t execute on offense.  They didn’t execute on defense.

The Jaguars (4-10), a week after the most one-sided victory of the season, on Thursday were plagued by a rash of injuries at wide receiver, defensive end and throughout the defensive backfield. They fell behind early, and never found a way to rally against a team contending for the playoffs.

The result was what Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew called “obviously a very embarrassing loss.”

“It was bad,” Posluszny said. “You saw it. It was bad.”

Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker said there were bright spots, particularly late, when the Jaguars scored the game’s final two touchdowns.

“We are disappointed, but our guys will fight,” Tucker said. “That’s what we have to do.”

The Falcons (9-5) led 10-0 after the first quarter, then extended the lead to 27-0 at halftime. Midway through the third quarter, they led 41-0.

“They outplayed us,” Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. “They outplayed us on defense. They outplayed us on offense. We didn’t get a spark. We never got anything going.”

Not until the third quarter, anyway.

The Jaguars made it 41-7 when special teams ace Kassim Osgood overpowered a blocker and blocked a punt that tight end Zach Potter returned 46 yards for a touchdown.

“I don’t think it’s an issue of ‘want to,’’’ Tucker said. “They want to do well. They were disappointed. It’s execution. Those are things we’ve got to clean up.”

The Jaguars’ final touchdown came with 59 seconds remaining, when rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert – harassed throughout by Falcons defensive end John Abraham and an overpowering Falcons pass rush – threw 16 yards to wide receiver Chastin West for West’s first career touchdown.

Gabbert completed 12 of 22 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He had 119 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“A mixed bag,” Tucker called Gabbert’s night.

The Gabbert-to-West touchdown made it 41-14, but before then, Jaguars players said with one exception it was a simple matter of being out-played in every significant phase of the game.

“We can’t have an excuse,” Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “We didn’t execute against a good team and that’s what happens to you. There’s nothing more to it. Things got out of hand way too fast. That’s all there is to it.”

The lone exception was the player who has been the exception much of the season:

Jones-Drew, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who entered the third-to-last weekend leading the NFL in rushing, did nothing to hurt that status, and through most of the game, he accounted for the vast majority of the Jaguars’ offense.

Jones-Drew, who had a season-high 43-yard run in the second quarter, finished with 112 yards rushing on 17 carries, a 6.6 yards average. Through three quarters, because of yardage lost when rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert was sacked, Jones-Drew had more yards than the Jaguars’ official total.

“Mojo can only do so much,” Knighton said.

Added Gabbert, “You have to make plays around him.”

Jones-Drew left the game late in the first half with what was reported as an ankle injury, but he played the entire second half and said afterward the ankle was not sprained.

“I got rolled up,” he said. “That happens.”

Jones-Drew accounted for 113 of the Jaguars’ 207 official yards.

“We felt like our game plan was solid, Jones-Drew said. “We didn’t execute enough.”

The loss came in the wake of a three-day week when the Jaguars were again hurt by several injuries. Not only did wide receivers Mike Thomas and Cecil Shorts miss with injuries, safety Dwight Lowery left the game early with a sore shoulder. The Jaguars were already starting backup cornerbacks Kevin Rutland and Ashton Youboty because of season-ending injuries to their top three corners – Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and Will Middleton.

Defensive end Matt Roth missed a fourth consecutive game with a concussion, and ends Aaron Kampman and John Chick are on injured reserve.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan left the game in the fourth quarter having completed 19 of 26 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns – one to rookie Julio Jones and two to veteran Roddy White.

Two of the touchdown passes came in the first half, with running back Michael Turner also scoring on a 4-yard run one play after a fumbled punt by wide receiver Jarett Dillard.

That was one of four turnovers for the Jaguars in a loss that spoiled what beforehand had been a festive, energetic mood around the Jaguars, with Shahid Khan attending his first game since being approved Wednesday by the league owners as the Jaguars’ next owner.

“We wanted to give him a present,” Jones-Drew said of Khan. “That didn’t happen today.”

Also on Thursday:

*Lowery left the game in the first quarter because of soreness in his shoulder, Tucker said. Lowery missed last week’s victory over Tampa Bay with a shoulder injury, and the Jaguars early this week placed his backup, Chris Prosinski, on injured reserved. Recently-signed Akwasi Owusu-Ansah played in Lowery’s place Thursday.

*Gabbert fumbled twice, one of which was returned by defensive tackle Corey Peters for a 13-yard touchdown with 1:27 gone in the third quarter. “I can’t take those sacks or fumbles,” Gabbert said. “That’s on me.”

*Jones-Drew on getting tackled from behind after his season-high 43-yard run: “That was horrible. I should have scored. I have to go do track work.”

*The Jaguars allowed five sacks on Gabbert, with Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham registering a season-high 3.5 sacks. “We ran the ball a bit,” Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said. “But you can’t give up that kind of pressure in the passing game.”

*Potter’s touchdown was the Jaguars’ first blocked punt for a touchdown since November 1, 1998, when Alvis Whitted did it at Baltimore.

*Tucker said he wasn’t happy with an outbreak of skirmishes in the third quarter. Defensive tackle Nate Collins received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pushing Falcons center Joe Hawley after a play in the middle of the quarter. Tucker said he spoke to the team about it during the game. “I don’t anticipate those types of things again,” Tucker said.

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