Textbook coverage by Buster Brown on the fourth-down stop. He blankets Chris Olave and nearly comes up with the interception, but will have to settle for a game-winning PBU.
Saints vs. Jaguars score: Christian Kirk's late TD helps Jacksonville survive New Orleans' comeback attempt
Jacksonville wins its fourth straight
The Jaguars may not be perfect, but they know how to win ugly pretty much anywhere. Weeks after logging consecutive victories in London, Jacksonville hit the Bayou to match up with the Saints and kick off Week 7 on Thursday. Trevor Lawrence played through a knee injury that had him questionable to suit up, Travis Etienne Jr. scored multiple times for the third straight game, and the Jags survived a late scare to secure a 31-24 victory -- their fourth in a row -- and remain unchallenged atop the AFC South.
Lawrence offset an uneven passing performance with 63 rushing yards to aid Etienne on the ground, but it was the Jaguars defense that initially did even more damage in the Superdome. New Orleans may have entered the game with the superior "D," but Saints quarterback Derek Carr had no answers until late in the contest, repeatedly throwing into traffic if not checking the ball down to a busy Alvin Kamara. That's not to say the Saints didn't threaten a comeback. Carr connected with Michael Thomas on a TD that preceded a two-point conversion to knot the score at 24 in the closing minutes of action. But it proved too little, too late, as the Jaguars struck back immediately afterward, scoring on a 44-yard Christian Kirk catch-and-run.
The Saints fall to 3-4, and third place in the crowded NFC South, with the defeat.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Thursday's matchup:
Why the Jaguars won
Besides the fact New Orleans remained offensively inept for three quarters? Christian Kirk came alive in crunch time, racing past Tyrann Mathieu and the Saints' typically sound secondary for a go-ahead score in the fourth. While Lawrence wasn't perfect, struggling early to move the chains through the air, he also had several big runs, including a scramble to set up a scoring drive. Travis Etienne didn't get a ton of opportunities but showcased his vision where it mattered most, scoring twice on red-zone carries. The defense also flashed early, frequently forcing Derek Carr into checkdowns or tight coverage, with five different players logging pass deflections. The linebacker corps, in particular, was all over the place, with Foyesade Oluokun and Devin Lloyd combining for 25 tackles, three pass breakups and a pick-six.
Why the Saints lost
They lacked an offensive clue until it was too late. Look, Dennis Allen's defense is always physical, always competitive. And that unit did its best to disrupt, even if Trevor Lawrence avoided most pressure. But at some point the QB and play-caller and play-makers have to, you know, score points. Which they did, but only after first falling behind by 15. Carr showed resilience guiding a late push, but only after spending three quarters opting for one dump-off after another. Their rare juice, believe it or not, seemed to come mostly from Taysom Hill, who got in on the action as both a runner and receiver.
Halfway through the third, the Saints forced a three-and-out, but then they proceeded to botch their ensuing possession, with Carr forcing one in Rashid Shaheed's direction and watching as Darious Williams deflected the ball into Oluokun's arms for a pick-six. Just like that, the Jags went up 24-9, and while Jacksonville did its best to keep the Saints in the ballgame later in the fourth, that multiple-score advantage kept Carr and Co. buried for a while. Christian Kirk's catch-and-run TD officially sealed it.
Play of the game
The Jags' pick-six gave them a big advantage, but Kirk's TD saved the day:
The Jaguars (5-2) will hit the road for a matchup with the Steelers (3-2), who visit the Rams this Sunday. The Saints (3-4), besides potentially reassessing their QB situation, will also travel for a matchup with the Colts (3-3), who take on the Browns this Sunday in their second straight contest with Gardner Minshew under center.
Carr goes to Olave one-on-one on the left side ... but they can't connect. Jaguars take over. This one may be done.
Foster Moreau drops a WIDE-OPEN touchdown in the back of the end zone. Oh my goodness. Fourth-and-goal for the Saints.
Third-and-goal from the Jaguars' 6-yard line. 30 seconds remaining.
Jags have 3 timeouts, Saints have 2
Absolutely love this
Saints now at the Jaguars' 18-yard line down seven points. 1:55 remaining in the game.
Not trying to jinx anything, but the Saints offense has been pretty effective in this final quarter.
What a clutch play by Christian Kirk. Catches a short pass over the middle of the field and rips off a 44-yard touchdown to give the Jaguars back the lead. Some nifty route-running too.
Something to monitor with the Saints -- Derek Carr seemed to injure his groin on that failed third down attempt. Was down on the field for a minute before walking to the sideline with trainers.
That Carr-Thomas touchdown was special!
Saints offense can't take advantage of their defense's stand. Three-and-out, and I think Carr got hit in the man parts. Went down to two knees after the third-down incompletion.
Jaguars take over with 3:45 remaining in the game, and they have great field position after a bad 39-yard punt. Trevor Lawrence will start at the Saints' 46-yard line.
He's been so active tonight.
Jaguars are getting a little too cute with those end-arounds. Just line up and run the football with Etienne if you want to keep it on the ground. Those reverses have gone nowhere tonight.
The Saints scored 9 points in the first three quarters. They have 15 points in the fourth quarter already.
The underlying story from a Jaguars perspective is the defense simply getting tired because the offense can't put together sustained drives. When the Saints started to speed things up on offense, that fatigue was evident.
THE SAINTS ARE ALIVE. Three plays, 53 yards and Derek Carr finds Michael Thomas for a 17-yard touchdown. He somehow got a foot, and then knee down. Can't believe he found a way to do so.
Then Alvin Kamara score the two-point conversion. TIE GAME.
24-24 6:38 remaining in the game.
Derek Carr was begging the Jaguars to pick a pass all night. Finally gave them one there.
A critical mistake by Carr. Probably should have just checked the ball down and allowed his back to make a play for the first down. Instead, he forces a ball over the middle, it's picked and returned for a touchdown. A dagger.
New Orleans is 0-2 in the red zone tonight after going 0-3 in the red area last week in the loss to Houston.
Some miscommunication between Carr and Kamara on second-and-20. Seemed like Carr was expecting Kamara to curl back toward the sideline and instead he ran down the field. Set up a third-and-20 attempt that they had no shot of converting. Yet another field goal for New Orleans, spoiling what initially felt like one of their better drives of the night.
The third down struggles (1-9) continue for New Orleans, but they redeem themselves by going for it on fourth down. Alvin Karama rips off a 17-yard run to keep the drive alive. Derek Carr has made a couple of nice throws (a 14-yarder to Olave and a 5-yard pass to Moreau) so far. Finally a little life from this Saints offense.
Jaguars run a weird delayed read option on fourth and 1 and don't get it. Saints take over at their own 47-yard line. What in the world was that call?
Massive stop by the Saints defense on fourth down. Looked like Lawrence was a little indecisive on the option and let Etienne run into the pile and come up short.
WOW. Saints called for DPI on third-and-11. To be honest, the pass looked like it may have been uncatchable? That's a bad break. Jaguars now near midfield.
A Calvin Ridley sighting!! But the deep catch down the right sideline occurs out of bounds.
Saints can't do anything despite having the momentum. Three and out. Carr had a miscommunication with Olave. Still 24-16. Saints defense is going to have to step up once again. Wouldn't another turnover here be nice?