It’s a big deal whenever the NFL gets involved in any kind of production and this week in London is no exception. Jeff Beck and Joss Stone in the pregame show, fireworks, a minute of silence for Remembrance Day, the US National Anthem, and a rousing rendition of “God Save The Queen.” In fact, it sounded like all 85,000 at Wembley were singing.
Plenty of Cowboys fans at Wembley for the game, but also lots of Cowboys haters, or Jaguars fans, you really couldn’t tell the difference.
When DeMarco Murray broke off a 23-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, it brought back memories of last year’s blowout at the hands of the 49ers. And a following screen pass put Dallas in Jaguars territory. But the defense stiffened, kind of. Tony Romo missed a wide open Jason Witten on third down, obviously a blown coverage, and the Cowboys settled for a field goal, 3-0.
The Jaguars came right back, with a couple of good throws by Blake Bortles to Allen Robinson and a nice post patter to Cecil Shorts to get into Dallas territory. That’s when Denard Robinson got through a whole at the line of scrimmage, broke a tackle and went 33 yards for a TD to give the Jaguars a 7-3 lead. The stadium erupted.
With a veteran defensive front, the Jaguars settled into a solid game plan against Romo and company, forcing a punt. It’s a shame that Ace Sanders muffed it because it stole the momentum from the home team. Make that kind of mistake in the NFL and you pay for it, TD Dallas, 10-7. Same thing with defensive assignments. Jonathan Cyprien took a bad angle on Dez Bryant and missed him after a five-yard gain. Bryant did the rest, running for a TD, 17-7 Dallas. And after gaining some momentum on a 51-yard catch and run from Bortles to Cecil Shorts, Denard Robinson fumbled the ball at the 2-minute warning, keeping the Jaguars from putting any points up.
While Dallas was driving in for another score, Cole Beasley fumbled and Josh Evans recovered it. Good solid hit by the Jaguars and the first break of the day that went their way. But they couldn’t convert and punted it away to the Cowboys. Fair enough, go into the locker room down by 10 and regroup. But instead, Dwayne Gratz does the inexcusable, allowing Bryant to get behind him for a 68-yard TD catch from Romo and instead the Jaguars were down 24-7.
So to recap, the Jaguars had a muffed punt, a fumble, missed assignments, bad tackling, bad angles and inexcusable coverage at the end of the half to trail 24-7. For how they played, that’s about the correct score. Watching the Jaguars can drive you crazy with all the mistakes they make to keep themselves from succeeding.
Earlier in the week, General Manager Dave Caldwell said they’d be less forgiving of mistakes made by young players next year. It can’t get here fast enough. If they’re going to make those mistakes over and over though, maybe they shouldn’t be as forgiving right now.
A couple more miss “fits” on defense against the Dallas run allowed the Cowboys to take a 31-7 lead with 7 minutes left in the third. How is it that a team can appear to have the talent and the will but be so outclassed when the bell rings? At the beginning of the game the Jaguars believed they could play with the Cowboys and showed it early. But after the Ace Sanders fumble, their confidence disappeared and it went downhill from there.
Both teams noodled around in the third quarter with the Jaguars getting stoned on 4th down and converting another. But no more scoring. The 4th quarter had weird stuff happening as both teams got a little chippy. The Cowboys had holding called in the end zone for a safety and as the Jaguars were driving, Bortles threw an interception at the 10. Dallas leveled Shorts on the play, but after the INT and kept the ball at the 5.
While you can call it a productive week when you look at how these guys are a team in the truest sense, I don’t think they got better today.