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Jaguars Snap Losing Streak With Last-Second Win

#1 draft pick and the man who broke the Jags' 20 game losing streak Trevor Lawrence says 'to get this win, to do it here in London, it is all just special - I will always remember this one'
By Gary Baker
Published on October 18, 2021

Dolphins at Jaguars London 2021 Matthew Wright kicks the Jaguars' winning field goal. PHOTO: NFL

The National Football League has been busy in London this week. Aside from the back-to-back games held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they have conducted the first London NFL International Combine, also held in the purpose-built stadium in Tottenham, North London, with over fifty athletes invited to attend the day. Traditionally this type of event is to highlight the elite college athletes entering the NFL draft during the offseason, but with the NFL making more commitments around the world, especially in Europe, this event was to assess talent levels to mirror that commitment as part of the NFL International Pathway program. From this already talented group, a select number will be invited to a camp in the United States, and evaluated further over a three-month period, with a further cut made to place some excellent athletes with NFL teams. This program has seen Efe Obada (UK), Jakob Johnson (Germany), Jordan Mailata (Australia) and Sammis Reyes (Chile) gain regular places in rosters across the league.

It was also confirmed this week that the NFL has named three cities in Germany in the final part of their candidate phase to potentially host regular season games in the future, maybe as early as next season. Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, and Munich are now entering the final stages, and even though only one will emerge as the chosen venue this will be seen as a huge win for a country that has always been behind the game. With a growing television audience in Germany this will only see the boom get bigger, should they get the opportunity to host games as part of the International Series.

“As well as identifying a stadium that is fully capable of handling the logistics of an NFL game, we want to work with a host consortium that comprises local and regional government, stadium ownership, local stakeholders and potential commercial partners. We want this to be a long-term partnership,” said Brett Gosper, NFL Head of Europe and the UK.

Dolphins at Jaguars London 2021 Jags' mascot Jaxson makes his traditional bungee-jumping entry. PHOTO: NFL

Away from taking care of business there was a second game to end the week. The Jacksonville Jaguars, the team that has visited these shores most regularly, were the host team, and they had Miami Dolphins as their visitors. Both teams were coming to London looking to jump start their season, although with 0-5 and 1-4 records respectively it would be fair to say that both were already starting to plan for next year. The Jaguars, who for a while have been London’s adopted team, had a 3-4 record in the UK before this game, and in 2019 they lost to the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium 26-3. The Dolphins had made four previous trips to the UK for regular season games but only won once; they were shut out 20-0 by the New Orleans Saints when last here in 2017.

After a stuttering start the Dolphins took the ball downfield with relative ease, and the opening drive, which ate up half of the opening period of the game, was capped with a Jaylen Waddle 6-yards touchdown catch from Tua Tagovailoa. The Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, number one pick in this year’s draft, had some early success on his first series but the drive came up short of the end zone and the home team had to settle for a field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3. The first quarter went quickly, similar to the way the Dolphins were playing, and it wasn’t long before they threatened to score again, but they were slowed up by penalties and in the opening moments of the second quarter extended their lead back to 7 points.

The pace of the game slowed and both teams struggled to move the ball with any conviction, penalties and errors slipping into the play, but the Dolphins did manage to tack three more points on with just under six minutes to play in the half. After a punt pinned the Dolphins back on the 3-yard line they couldn’t move the ball out and gave up the ball to the Jags with under two minutes left, enough time for Lawrence to use a short field to his advantage. A quick strike 28-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr. was just what was needed before the halftime interval. Miami found time to get into field goal range but their 58-yard try was short.

The Jaguars were in the ascendency, with both momentum and the ball first to open the second half. James Robinson had had a quiet first half but sparked a scoring drive that put Jacksonville in front for the first time. After a bruising 24-yard run that saw him tackled just shy of the end zone, he made no mistake when given the ball on the next play. An exchange of turnovers late in the third quarter provided some drama. First Lawrence fumbled the ball away, but almost immediately Tagovailoa threw an errant pass which was picked off, giving the Jaguars good field position to start the last quarter with a 17-13 lead. However, they could not convert a fourth down inside the Miami ten-yard line and the Dolphins survived that scare. Indeed, they turned the tables and marched straight down and scored a touchdown with the same combination that opened the scoring, Tagovailoa to Waddle, this time from just two yards.

The game was building up to a tense finish - exactly what the new Tottenham record crowd of 60,784 wanted. When Matthew Wright booted a 54-yard field goal to tie the game with 3:40 left in the game, it was all to play for. Remarkably the Dolphins went for a fourth down gamble which didn’t pay off and the Jags had a chance to win the game. Again, bad play and penalties hampered them but despite this they still managed a quick pass play to get them into field goal range. It was the same distance that Matthew Wright had kicked earlier in the game, “Yeah, so the first one I actually thought I missed it. I was about ready to walk off the field, and then I saw the O-linemen turn around and they were all happy, so that is when I realized it went in. But yes, the second one felt a lot better, made a lot better contact. Just happy they both went in.” he said excitedly after nailing the game winning kick as time expired, to snatch the win 23-20.

Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores knew that ultimately the loss came down to some of his decisions: “You know, that's up to me. I am not doing a good enough job. Not playing consistently enough. Not coaching well enough. Not playing well enough. And not playing consistent enough. Some positive plays. Consistent ball -- first half, a little bit in the second half but we are just not putting it together. That starts with me.”

Fresh off a win that snapped a 20-game losing streak, Jags Head Coach Urban Meyer was far happier: “Well, we needed a win. Someone asked me last week if we were desperate for a win, and we are desperate for a win, and we came close a few times. There was a lot of things to fix, but you saw a young quarterback make a big-time play at the biggest time of the game, and then a young kicker that we just signed a couple weeks ago pop two 50-plus yarders, so it was a great win.”

Trevor Lawrence knows the pressures that being a number one pick in the NFL can bring, and he also understood the importance of getting that first win. After the game he said: “Oh, man. It is different. It is special. Obviously, we have had a rough start to the year, been through a lot of adversity even in this game, just having to fight back, battle back and find a way to win. It means a lot, and obviously, like I said, we have struggled a little bit, but to get this win, have this moment going into the bye week, to do it here in London, it is all just special. I will always remember this one. My first win, out here, like it is just hard, hard to even imagine. It is awesome. I am just really proud of this group. We decided earlier this week, we're going to win this game, and we talked about it on the sideline, there's going to be so many ups and downs throughout every game you've just got to keep playing, and we did that and found a way to win.”

Dolphins at Jaguars London 2021 Successful partnership: QB Trevor Lawrence passes the ball to running back James Robinson. PHOTO: NFL

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