Things weren’t looking good for the home team.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were off to a 14-0 first-half lead over the Cincinnati Bengals, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence had just connected with Laviska Shenault, Jr. for a 52-yard gain. The Jaguars were in business at the Bengals’ 10-yard line, with only two minutes to play before halftime.
Jacksonville drove to the Cincinnati one-yard-line with just 59 seconds to intermission. Then, in a flash or, more accurately, a collision, everything changed.
On fourth-and-goal, Lawrence tried to sneak it over right tackle and was met by linebacker Logan Wilson and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi for no gain.
“It was the turning point of the game,” Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor said after the game. “It was about to be 21-0 right before the half. That is a tough hole to dig out of. We believe we could do it, but you certainly don’t want that going into halftime and them getting the momentum.
“It felt like the momentum came back in our favor. Our defense finally got the chance to rest because the offense was leaving them out there. They had 15 first downs right out the gate and the defense was gassed with a short week—that all factors into it for both teams. We hung them out to dry on offense, so that was huge for them to bow up and stop it.”
After a sloppy first half that saw the Bengals go missed field goal, three-and-out, four-and-out and three-and-out in the first half, Cincinnati got the ball to open the second half and drove 69 yards in four plays to cut the gap to 14-7.
In fact, the Bengals scored every time they touched the football in the second half (touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, game-winning field goal) en route to the 24-21 victory.
Tight end C.J. Uzomah, who was on the receiving end of both of quarterback Joe Burrow’s touchdown passes, summed it up this way:
“We weren’t performing the way that we should have performed, and we came in at halftime—first of all, the defense had an incredible stop at the end of the half. To go in 21 to 0 in comparison to 14 to 0 is huge. We all stepped up, said some things in the locker room at halftime and came out and executed.”
Tyler Boyd, who led all Bengals’ receivers with nine catches for 118 yards, with a long of 33, agreed.
”Man, the defense really held it down,” Boyd said. “They didn’t score, and we got the ball back at the one because we had an outstanding stop. That was the difference in the game for sure. That stop really got us going, because the game probably would have went a whole different way if they would’ve punched it in. So I take my hat off to our defense.”
Despite the results, or lack thereof, Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer had no regrets about going for it in that situation. And he still felt good about his team’s chance with a 14-0 lead at halftime.
“I felt like our defense was playing so well,” Meyer said after the game. “And on offense, James (Robinson) was running ball, and we were controlling the line of scrimmage. That’s how you win games — take care of the ball and get first downs. I felt really good.”
So did the Bengals, and Joey B. and his boys had the last laugh on this one.