Blaine had his best performance in his young career.
MJD led the Jags in rushing and Cecil Shorts provided glimpses of what the Jaguars expected of him for the past two seasons.
Minnesota should have conceded the game after Blaine Gabbert led a fourth quarter drive in less than one minute, punctuated by a TD strike and a two-point conversion by Blaine Gabbert. They should have shrugged their shoulders and just accepted that they gave a good effort in front of the Twin Cities faithful. But, this time, instead of the Jaguars defense turning out the lights in the Metrodome, Minnesota QB Christian Ponder led a drive of his own, giving Blair Walsh enough space to tie the game and introduce what would be the only OT game on Sunday.
Jacksonville went into overtime not just because of Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, but their own kicker, Josh Scobee, who had his extra point blocked in the second quarter. A victory would erase the seemingly insignificant PAT and give Jacksonville a small bit of screen time in the mix of NFL highlights that day. Minnesota struck first with a field goal, leaving Blaine another chance to lead a game-winning or at least, a game-tying drive. But, the first down marker was never passed, as Gabbert did not connect on any of the three passes in OT.
Blaine Gabbert had his best day as a pro even though he ended with a whimper. He looked much more composed in the pocket and followed through on his release. It goes to show just how much of a difference a training camp can make. His next step would be anticipating defenders jumping routes. In the fourth and overtime there were a few instances where Minnesota deflected his passes. Thankfully, it’s only week one and Gabbert will develop the skill to ‘look off’ his receviers as they spend more time together in practice and on the field. MJD didn’t miss a step, as he averaged 4 yards per carry against a run defense that ranked 11th out of 32 teams last season. The Jags defense was solid, but late in the game, they show wear and tear, giving up substantial plays.
Both Jacksonville and Minnesota are teams that are fairly young, with burgeoning QB’s and stud running backs to hand the ball off too. Today’s game showed that Jacksonville has the chops to run (and pass) with teams who are on the same level they are. But, next week in Jacksonville’s home opener, they face a much tougher and battle-tested in opponent in Houston. It should be a great test for Jacksonville, since they always play their division rivals tougher than anyone else.
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Written by Michael Reid