Jacksonville, Fla. — Eight months later and with much less on the line, the Jacksonville Jaguars found a way to close out Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The significance of it might not be known for some time.
Not even the bold, brash Jaguars would acknowledge it was anything more than a Week 2 win. Others would disagree.
Blake Bortles threw four touchdown passes, three in the first half, and the Jaguars beat Brady and the Patriots 31-20 Sunday in a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game.
The victory – Jacksonville’s first in nine tries against Brady – could signal a new favorite in the AFC.
“Every week is about us,” Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “We feel like if we’re at the top of our game, we can’t be beat. They were our opponents, so that’s what we prepared for.”
Bortles threw for 377 yards in the best game of his five-year career.
He threw perfect TD passes to Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the first half, the second time Bortles has accomplished that feat. Bortles sealed the victory with a 61-yard pass to Dede Westbrook in the fourth quarter.
Westbrook took a short pass on a crossing route, made one defender miss and outran another down the sideline and into the end zone. Cole delivered the key block.
Cole finished with seven receptions for 116 yards and a score. He made a spectacular, one-handed catch on Jacksonville’s second drive and beat Eric Rowe for a 24-yard touchdown three plays later. Rowe was benched.
Westbrook’s catch-and-run put the Jaguars (2-0) ahead 31-13, allowing them to start celebrating their second victory in franchise history against New England (1-1) and first in the regular season. They hadn’t beaten the Pats since January 1999.
“You have a bad day against a good team, it’s a recipe for losing,” Brady said. “And we certainly had a bad day.”
Brady completed 24 of 35 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, both to Chris Hogan. He was sacked twice.
Brady pleaded with teammates on the bench early. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels appeared to deliver stern words, too.
Just when the Patriots started showing signs of life – they were down 11 and in field-goal range early in the fourth quarter – Dante Fowler stripped Brady. Fowler was making his season debut after being suspended for the season opener.
“We just obviously didn’t do anything well enough or close to well enough to be able to take a win today,” Pats coach Bill Belichick said. “It’s disappointing to have the kind of day that we had today, but that’s what it was, so we’ll live with it, own it and move on.”
Unlike the previous meeting, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone didn’t sit on the lead late.
Jacksonville kept throwing, even in the final minutes, and put it on the offense to close out the game.
Marrone was widely criticized for getting conservative in the title game. The Patriots trailed 20-10 in the fourth quarter of that one before rallying to win 24-20 and advancing to the Super Bowl.
The teams played in the hottest game in Jaguars history. Temperature at kickoff was 97 degrees, with a heat index of 107 degrees. According to the NFL, it was the warmest game since Green Bay played at Arizona in 2003.
The Jaguars improved to 4-0 in two seasons without running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette sat out while recovering from a sore right hamstring he tweaked in the season opener at the New York Giants.
T.J. Yeldon started in his place and ran 10 times for 58 yards.
Patriots rookie Sony Michel, a first-round draft pick from Georgia, carried 10 times for 34 yards in his NFL debut. Michel is expected to give New England some much-needed help in its running attack.
Patriot defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung, two of the team’s top defenders, were ruled out with concussions. Flowers was injured in the first quarter when he collided with teammate Keionta Davis. Chung was injured in the second half.
Patriots at Lions
When: 8:20 Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
Records: Patriots (1-1), Lions (0-2)
Line: New England by 6