The NFL world is questioning a baffling first-half decision by the Jaguars that may have come back to haunt them

  • The Jacksonville Jaguars blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
  • The Jaguars' decision to kneel the ball twice with 55 seconds remaining in the first half came back to haunt them.
  • When the Jaguars trailed the Patriots by four with two minutes remaining, they had to score a touchdown, a circumstance that may have been different if they tried to score to end the first half.


The New England Patriots overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit on Sunday to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and advance to the Super Bowl.

And while the story of the game has rightfully been the Patriots' perfect fourth-quarter execution, the Jaguars also fumbled away a golden opportunity to pull off the upset of the NFL season.

Despite a scoreless fourth quarter and their inability to stop the Patriots' offense down the stretch, the sequence the Jaguars may wish they could have back actually came in the first half.

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AFC Championship game: Patriots vs. Jaguars
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AFC Championship game: Patriots vs. Jaguars
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady holds the football before the game. The New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 21, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars walks onto the field before the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots hands the ball offsides to Dion Lewis #33 in the first quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Brandin Cooks #14 of the New England Patriots is defended by Jalen Ramsey #20 and Telvin Smith #50 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) breaks up a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) during the first quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Marcedes Lewis #89 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates after a touchdown in the first quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots is hit by Barry Church #42 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots walks off the field after an injury in the second quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: James White #28 of the New England Patriots carries the ball for a touchdown in the second quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) drops back to pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Jacksonville Jaguars' Carey Grant stretches out while making a gain during the second quarter. The New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Jan. 21, 2018.
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is tackled by Marcell Dareus #99 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second half during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: New England Patriots' Brandin Cooks can't come up with the catch defended by Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey, left, and A.J. Bouye during the third quarter. The New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA, on Jan. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots throws the ball during the second half of the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown with Danny Amendola #80 in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Brandon Bolden #38 of the New England Patriots reacts in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) catches a touchdown pass ahead of Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson (39) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) after a touchdown by wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) during the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
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With 55 seconds left to play, the Patriots kicked off to the Jaguars, trailing 14-10. After a touchback, Jacksonville brought the ball to the 25-yard line, with two timeouts remaining, then proceeded to kneel twice as time expired.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, no team had done that this season.

The decision was a baffling one. The Jaguars moved the ball well against the Patriots in the first half, and kicker Josh Lambo later nailed two long field goals for the Jaguars, showing his range and accuracy would have been useful if the Jags had been able to get into field goal range.

Instead, the decision to kneel and not risk turning the ball over — also questionable because the Jaguars also got the ball to start the second half — seemed as if the Jaguars were playing not to lose, afraid of the tide turning against them.

In the NFC Championship, the Philadelphia Eagles kicked a field goal after getting the ball with 29 seconds remaining before halftime. The NFL world piled on the Jaguars for their decision to kneel.

That the Jaguars didn't try to score when they had the chance mattered down the stretch. The Patriots took a 24-20 lead with 2:48 remaining, giving the ball to Blake Bortles to try to lead the Jaguars to victory.

Bortles got his team close. After a few completions, Jacksonville faced 4th-and-15 on the Patriots' 43-yard-line, with 1:47 remaining. Bortles attempted a deep throw to wide receiver Dede Westbrook, but it was tipped by Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, giving the ball back to the Patriots, who then ran out the clock.

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Blake Bortles after the AFC Championship game
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Blake Bortles after the AFC Championship game
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars after the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars after the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars after the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars after the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Jaguars needed a touchdown in that situation. Perhaps it may have been different if they drove the ball at the end of the first half.

Circumstances change with each play. There's no guarantee that the Jaguars would have scored if they drove the ball at the end of the first half, just as there's no guarantee that they would have won the game if they did drive the ball. However, in a playoff game in which points can be scarce, the decision to not try to score only looks more suspect as time passes.

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