JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Trevor Lawrence admittedly had this game circled on Jacksonville’s schedule for months.
A Week 2 home opener against the defending Super Bowl champion, the same team that knocked Lawrence and his teammates out of the playoffs in January. Winning at Indianapolis seven days earlier made the matchup even more intriguing.
It was essentially set up perfectly for the Jaguars to announce themselves to the rest of the league as contenders. Instead, they played like pretenders.
Lawrence was 0-for-7 passing in the red zone and was sacked four times in a 17-9 loss to Kansas City on Sunday that exposed several flaws for a team that believed it was ready to make a deeper postseason run.
“We got our shot here at home and laid an egg offensively,” said Lawrence, who completed 22 of 41 passes for 216 yards. “It’s pretty frustrating. ... It’s definitely really, really frustrating when you leave that much out there.”
Coach Doug Pederson’s team endured another slow start, failed to capitalize on two of three turnovers and struggled to protect Lawrence. Rookie right tackle Anton Harrison appeared overmatched against All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, who was making his season debut after ending his holdout and signing a one-year deal earlier in the week.
“We’re better than this,” tight end Evan Engram said. “We missed. We missed our shot. We’re going to definitely move on from this. ... We’ll see ’em again.”
Not if the Jaguars don’t clean up what they’re doing offensively. They went 3 of 12 on third down for the second straight week and failed both times on fourth down.
Equally anemic, they were 0 for 3 scoring touchdowns in the red zone and 0 for 1 in goal-to-go situations.
“We were in their red zone (three) times and came away with nine points,” Lawrence said. “You can’t do that. You’re not going to beat good teams when you do that. So we got to be better.”
The Jaguars settled for a field goal after having first-and-goal at the 1 to start the fourth quarter and Lawrence threw incomplete on a fourth-and-12 play with 4:16 remaining on their next drive.
They finished with 271 yards, the fourth-fewest in Pederson’s two seasons and an eye-opener for a franchise that returned 10 starters on offense and added receiver Calvin Ridley in the offseason. Ridley caught two passes for 32 yards.
Christian Kirk had 11 receptions for 110 yards, but he also was part of the most head-scratching play of the day. Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor — in his second game as the team's full-time play-caller — dialed up a trick play that had Kirk throwing to running back Travis Etienne in the second quarter.
Kirk completed the cross-field pass, but the Chiefs defended it perfectly, and it resulted in a 1-yard loss. Leading 3-0, Pederson ended up going for it fourth-and-5 on that drive. Lawrence was sacked, and the Chiefs took over at midfield.
Kansas City scored seven plays later and never relinquished the lead.
“The guys are doing it in practice,” Pederson said. “We just got to make sure it’s carrying over to the game. And as coaches, we’ve got to make sure we’re doing the right things and not doing too much, just putting our guys in positions and letting them go play.
“It’s something that we all have to be accountable for, myself included, and make sure that we get it corrected.”
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Mark Long, The Associated Press