Jaguars lose their cool in 44-33 loss to 49ers
By JOSH DUBOW
Dec. 25, 2017
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars lost their cool and possible a chance at a first-round bye. The only saving grace was Jacksonville clinched its first division title since 1999.
Not that the Jaguars were in any mood to celebrate after being the latest team to get picked apart by Jimmy Garoppolo and the surging San Francisco 49ers.
Blake Bortles threw three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown , and the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense was overmatched by Garoppolo and the 49ers in a 44-33 loss on Sunday.
"Very weird feeling. Any time you lose, especially the way we've been playing, it's tough," Bortles said. "But it's also kind of in the back of your head that we won the division. So that's pretty cool but I don't think anybody's happy with what went on today. We wanted to win the division by winning today. We weren't able to do that so that's tough."
The Jaguars (10-5) clinched the AFC South when Tennessee lost to the Rams earlier in the day but were dealt a blow in their hopes for a first-round bye with the loss. Jacksonville must beat the Titans next week and hope Pittsburgh loses to Houston and winless Cleveland to avoid playing on wild-card weekend.
That missed opportunity made it hard to celebrate after the game.
"This is what I told the team. I said, 'Listen, we've earned that. We've won 10 football games. We've earned it, but we really can't celebrate it,'" coach Doug Marrone said. "We know that there's something for us this postseason. We know there's a sense of accomplishment, but that's something we'll look back on. Right now our focus is correcting that, doing a better job and getting ourselves ready to play the final game of the season."
The frustration for Jacksonville was evident almost from the start as the Jaguars fell into a 16-0 hole before rallying to take the lead early in the third quarter. They then gave it back up following Bortles' second interception and never recovered.
Defensive lineman Malik Jackson and cornerback Aaron Colvin got into a heated argument on the sideline and the Jaguars then committed three personal fouls — by Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue and Jackson — to fuel two touchdown drives in the second half.
"It's tough. When we're on the field we can't allow things like that to happen," Colvin said. "That's probably our biggest opponent is ourselves, when we beat ourselves. We have to fix that issue. We can't go into the playoffs like that. Today was just an odd situation. We're not really that kind of team. We'll be better."
The Niners (5-10) sensed that frustration from a defense that came into the game having allowed the fewest points and net yards passing and recorded the most sacks in the NFL heading into the week.
San Francisco effectively used misdirection and another strong performance from Garoppolo, who threw two TD passes and ran for a third score to win his fourth straight start, to put up the most points against the Jaguars all season.
"I don't think they were used to a team moving the ball the way we did," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. "We did a great job of not retaliating and just letting them talk and let them beat themselves. We came out on top because of it."
After going three straight weeks without throwing an interception in the best stretch of his career, Bortles was picked off three times, including one returned for a touchdown by Dontae Johnson in the first half.
Bortles threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough for the Jaguars.
"We still won the division despite what happened today," Bortles said. "It wasn't our best performance. We're a better football team than that. We're a better offense than that. Can't turn the ball over and put our defense in some tough situations."
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