The Cincinnati Bengals did not lead the Jacksonville Jaguars for the bulk of their "Thursday Night Football" matchup. With just four seconds remaining, however, kicker Evan McPherson booted a 35-yard field goal to give Cincinnati its third win of the season, rallying back to beat Jacksonville 24-21.
With the game tied at 21 apiece, Joe Burrow was able to lead the Bengals offense 73 yards down the field to set up the game-winner and hand Jacksonville it's 19th consecutive loss. This all comes after the Jaguars were unable to protect a 14-point lead at halftime, making it the second week in a row they were victimized by a second-half comeback.
Burrow finished the game completing 25 of his 32 throws for 348 yards and two touchdowns. Both of those scores went to tight end C.J. Uzomah, who also was second on the team with 95 yards receiving. Meanwhile, Trevor Lawrence completed 17 of his 24 throws for 204 yards and no turnovers. He also rushed for 36 yards and a score in the losing effort.
Below, you can find our main takeaways from the Week 4 opener.
Why the Bengals won
Cincinnati really started to let Burrow loose in the second half. He came out of the gate, completing a 44-yard pass to Ja'Marr Chase on his second throw of the third quarter and just two plays later completed a 22-yard touchdown throw to Uzomah. Zac Taylor appears to be much more aggressive with Burrow through the air as he was routinely in the shotgun and picking apart the Jaguars defense. Despite Burrow airing it out, Joe Mixon came alive in the second half as well. During the Bengals' second touchdown drive of the second half, Mixon accounted for 37 of the team's 86 yards on the 12-play drive and bashed in the 1-yard score to even the game at 14. The veteran back finished his night with 67 yards on the ground on a 4.2 yards-per-carry clip.
Not only was the offense able to move the ball much more efficiently in the second half, but the defense stepped up in critical moments. In between two touchdown drives by the offense, the Bengals defense forced a three-and-out of the Jaguars that lasted just 93 seconds to hand Burrow the ball back and keep the momentum rolling. It also came up with a critical stop in the fourth quarter, forcing Jacksonville to punt the ball away and pave the way for the game-winning field goal drive.
Why the Jaguars lost
In the second consecutive week, the Jaguars couldn't hold the lead for all four quarters. To begin the contest, the Jaguars were able to jump out to a 14-point lead largely based on a duel rushing attack by Lawrence and James Robinson, who accounted for both of those scores. However, the offense was unable to keep up with the Bengals over the final two quarters and were outscored 24-7. Thanks to three five-plus-minute drives by the opposition, Jacksonville only had three offensive possessions in the second half and two resulted in punts.
Getting off the field on defense was another clear issue for Jacksonville in the second half, especially on third down. Urban Meyer's team was perfect over the first two quarters as Bengals were unable convert any of their four third-down attempts. However, they went in the complete opposite direction to end the game as Cincinnati converted all five of its third-down tries in the third and fourth quarters with two of those conversions resulting in touchdowns.
When the opposing team is cooking the way the Bengals were over that stretch, the Jags were just asking to be left in the dust.
After Cincinnati's 14-point tidal wave to begin the second half, the Jaguars were able to answer with a touchdown drive to give themselves the 21-14 edge. However, they couldn't repeat that process following the Bengals third-straight touchdown drive to begin the fourth quarter. Lawrence and Co. traveled just 25 yards on six plays before Cincy's defense forced them to punt from midfield. At that point, Burrow got the ball back with just over five minutes to play in the game and they were able to bleed down the clock and hit the game-winner.
On that final drive, a critical holding penalty by Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon also negated a Jacksonville sack on Burrow that would have put Cincinnati in a fourth-and-10 situation deep in its own territory and 3:54 remaining in the game. That proved to be devastating in the Jaguars hopes of coming away with the win.
Play of the game
There were plenty of plays worthy of this honor (both of Uzomah's touchdowns, Laviska Shenault's 52-yard catch, etc). That said, you can't place a ball more perfectly than where Lawrence put this 27-yard pass to Jamal Agnew at the 4:07 mark in the third quarter. With pressure coming from his left, Lawrence delivered the second-and-6 attempt only where he receiver could get it at the Cincinnati 46-yard line. Agnew also showed tremendous concentration to not only haul in the pass, but tap both feet in bounds.
From here, the Jaguars will head back to Jacksonville an await their AFC South rival in the Tennessee Titans, who will first be on the road against the Jets on Sunday. As for the Bengals, they'll stay in Cincinnati and prepare for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay is facing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field on Sunday.