In a game that was much closer than most analysts predicted, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers traveled to Jacksonville for their triumphant game against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars. After successfully playing through four fourth down situations earlier in the game, Jacksonville failed to convert on a 4th and 1 with just 23 seconds left in the game, giving Green Bay the 4-point victory.
Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay Packers
Last season, Green Bay finished 2nd in their division with a record of 10-6. It was good enough to earn the Packers a spot in the NFL Playoffs for the seventh season in a row. They defeated the Washington Redskins to get passed the Wild Card round. But when they traveled to Arizona to face the Cardinals for Round 2 of the NFL Playoffs, their season ended with a 26-20 loss. This year, they hope to return to the Super Bowl, which they haven’t done since winning the big game in 2010.
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, 2015 was a much more difficult NFL season. Finishing with a record of 5-11, it was actually a two-game improvement over the prior season. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, even if they improve by another two games this season, a record of 7-9 isn’t likely to get them into the NFL Playoffs. Unlike the Packers, the Jags have never made it to the Super Bowl. In fact, if they fail to make it to the NFL Playoffs this season, it will be the tenth year in a row that the Jaguars don’t play in the post-season.
According to the injury report at NFL.com, the Green Bay Packers could be missing as many as six players for their Week 1 match-up. The hamstring seems to be playing the metaphorical role of the Achilles tendon for Green Bay, as they have three players with hamstring injuries. Cornerback Joshua Hawkins is listed as out, while Ayorunmi Banjo (safety) and Jayrone Elliott (linebacker) are both listed as Doubtful thanks to their hamstrings. Wide receiver Trevor Davis is listed as Doubtful with a shoulder injury, while fellow receiver Jeff Janis is Questionable with a hand injury. Another potential target for Rodgers, tight end Justin Perillo is listed as Questionable with a knee injury. On a more positive note, Packers fans are excited about the return of receiver Jordy Nelson.
Jacksonville, on the other hand, is significantly healthier going into the game. Defensive tackle Roy Miller was back to full practice and shouldn’t miss the game at all. Running back Christopher Ivory is listed as Questionable with a calf injury, while defensive end Jared Odrick is also listed as Questionable because of issues with his jaw.
Green Bay kicked to start the game, but they weren’t on defense for long. After a first down earned via rushing, the Packers defense intercepted a Blake Bortles pass, giving Aaron Rodgers and the offense a start near Jacksonville’s 30 yard line. On 4th and 1 from the 20, Eddie Lacey made a ten-yard run to land just shy of the 10 yard line. After a Jacksonville penalty, the Packers had a first down from the 6 yard line. After a failed attempt by Lacey to run it in, Rodgers elected to take care of things himself, getting a 6-yard rushing touchdown on the second down. After the extra point, Green Bay took a 7-0 lead.
On Jacksonville’s second drive of the game, the Jags benefited from multiple Green Bay penalties, including pass interference and offsides. While Bortles connected with a couple of solid passes, the first sack of the game prevented the Jaguars from crossing the 50-yard-line for the first time in the game. A solid punt on Jacksonville’s part put the Packers inside the 5-yard-line for their second drive of the game.
After a three-yard run from Lacey, Jacksonville put a lot of pressure on Rodgers, forcing back-to-back incomplete passes. After Green Bay punted, Jacksonville returned the ball to the Packers’ 48-yard-line, putting the Jags on the offensive side of the field for the first time in the game. Tight end Marcedes Lewis received a pass and took it 37 yards to the 11-yard-line. Eventually, T.J. Yeldon would rush in a touchdown from the 5, tying the game 7-7 after the extra point.
We see you, Aaron… ????
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) September 11, 2016
The Packers failed to earn a first down on their next drive, and Jacksonville started on their own 21. Clay Matthews had another big tackle (he had the sack earlier in the quarter) when he tackled Yeldon for a loss, forcing a 3rd and 10 for Bortles. After getting just nine yards on a pass, Jacksonville punted, giving the ball to Green Bay inside their own 5-yard-line as the first quarter came to an end.
Jacksonville once again kept the pressure on Aaron Rodgers, preventing the Packers from getting a first down after starting from their own 3-yard-line. After forcing Green Bay to punt, Jacksonville started their next drive on 47-yard-line. Taking something of a risk, they went for it on 4th and 5 from Green Bay’s 48-yard-line, Bortles connecting with Allen Robinson for a first down. A pass to Julius Thomas on the next play scored another first down, putting Jacksonville just shy of Green Bay’s 25-yard-line. The drive ended with Jason Myers hitting a 26-yard field goal, putting Jacksonville in the lead 10-7.
— #GBvsJAX (@Jaguars) September 11, 2016
After a touchback put Green Bay on their own 25, Cobb and Lacey earned the Packers a first down on two rushes. Two plays later, a pass to Davante Adams put them on the Jacksonville 42. A few plays later, Lacey broke several tackles in a run that took Green Bay to the 12-yard-line. In the end, Rodgers gave Green Bay their second touchdown of the game with an amazing pass to Jordy Nelson. The successful extra point put Green Bay up 14-10 with just over three minutes left in the first half.
The Jaguars needed less than two minutes, however, to take the lead before the first half ended. Coming up with another big catch, Julius Thomas collected a great pass from Bortles as he crossed the goal line. The subsequent extra point put Jacksonville up by three once again. Green Bay took the ball on their own 25 with just 1:09 left to play in the half. A pass interference call on the first play of the drive advanced the Packers thirty yards. With just under thirty second remaining in the half, Rodgers took a knee on the 29, setting up a wild, incomplete pass. It was followed by a play that involved a miraculous throw by Rodgers and a miraculous catch by Adams for Green Bay’s third touchdown of the game.
With just thirteen seconds on the clock, Bortles took a knee. The score was 21-17 at halftime.
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The first-half stats.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 11, 2016
The first drive of the second half started a little slow for Green Bay, but really picked up some momentum after a couple of highlight-worthy receptions from Randall Cobb and Richard Rodgers put them in a 1st and goal situation. However, the Packers couldn’t get the ball into the endzone, and Mason Crosby connected with his first field goal of the season, putting the Green Bay up 24-17.
Jacksonville answered with an impressive drive that quickly landed them near the red zone. Finding his team facing 2nd and 7 from Green Bay’s 21-yard-line, Bartles threw two incomplete passes. Unable to tie up the game, Myers was brought in for another field goal. The Packers lead was cut to just 4 points.
Aaron Rodgers used the rest of the quarter to slowly march the Green Bay Packers back into scoring position. As the third quarter ended, the Packers were at the Jaguars’ 15-yard-line on 2nd down and 8.
After a penalty, Cobb carried the ball to set up 1st and goal for Green Bay. The following play, Lacey took the ball to the 3-yard-line. The Packers gained about a yard after two more running plays, and Crosby hit a 20-yard field goal to give the Packers a 7-point lead.
In Jacksonville’s first drive of the final quarter, Bortles connected with Allen Robinson for a first down one play after taking a brutal sack. Shortly after Yeldon rushed the ball to Green Bay’s side of the field, the Packers defense responded by tackling Yeldon behind the line of scrimmage for the sixth time in the game. That set Jacksonville up with a 4th and 4 situation, where Bortles connected with Robinson once again. The first down was earned with just inches to spare — but the goal line was still 45 yards away.
Three plays later, it was 4th and 3. Having already been successful in two 4th-down conversions earlier in the game, Bortles used Jacksonville’s final time out of the game before their third attempt. He connected with Robinson once again, getting them inside Green Bay’s 30-yard-line. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, a delay of game penalty put them in a 3rd and 13 situation. Bortles suffered another sack, and Myers came in for his third field goal of the game. Connecting with a kick from 50 yards out, the Jags found themselves trailing by 4 points with just over five minutes left in the game.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 11, 2016
After running less than two minutes off the clock, the Packers were forced to punt. After an ugly punt by Tim Mastay and a penalty on Jacksonville, Bortles was tasked with reaching the endzone from his own 37-yard-line with 3:17 left on the clock. A pass to Marcedes Lewis gave them a first down just shy of the 50-yard-line. A few plays later, the Jags had to go for it on fourth down once again, with Bortles rushing for a first down. After a holding penalty, however, Jacksonville was forced to try again with ten extra yards to gain. An interception was made, but a flag was thrown. After a holding penalty on Green Bay, Jacksonville would get a fresh set of down, starting on their own 49-yard-line.
In the most dramatic moment of the game, Jacksonville faced a fourth down once again. With just one yard to go and 23 seconds on the clock, a completed pass to Allen Hurns ended with a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, making the win official as the time ran off the clock.
Where to Watch Green Bay Packers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The NFL Week 1 match-up between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers will air live from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The game will be televised on FOX and NFL RedZone with coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST. For fans on the road, the game can also be heard on Sirius XM Radio.
[Photo via Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]