The Jaguars had a very real chance to stun the home crowd.
For that matter, they had a chance to stun a lot of the NFL, too, sprinting and sacking their way to a seventeen-point halftime lead over the heavily favored Philadelphia Eagles in the 2014 regular-season opener.
Jaguars rookie wide receiver Allen Hurns caught two first-quarter touchdown passes and a revamped defense registered five first-half sacks, but the Eagles rallied with 34 second-half points for a 34-17 victory on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Stadium.
Running back Darren Sproles started the comeback with a 49-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the second half, and quarterback Nick Foles overcame a difficult first half to give the Eagles their first lead with a 68-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with 6:59 remaining.
Hurns, a rookie free agent, caught touchdown passes of 34 and 21 yards pass in a first quarter that set the tone for a surprisingly dominant first half by the Jaguars. Hurns finished with four receptions for 110 yards, all in the first half.
Quarterback Chad Henne, who finished the game 24-of-43 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, completed 12 of 17 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, after which the Jaguars held a 188-129 total-yardage advantage.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Philadelphia Eagles1st Half
Turnovers were the key for the Jaguars early, with a swarming defensive front forcing a pair of fumbles that led to Hurns’ first-quarter touchdowns.
Veteran free-agent defensive end Chris Clemons’ sack/fumble on Foles set up a 44-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Hurns from Henne, and one possession later, third-year veteran Andre Branch’s sack/fumble was recovered by defensive tackle Ziggy Hood at the Eagles’ 21.
Hurns’ 21-yard reception from Henne two plays later made it 14-0, Jaguars, with 6:50 remaining in the first quarter. A 49-yard field goal by Josh Scobee then pushed the lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter.
The Jaguars missed two chances to increase their lead in the middle of the second quarter, with Scobee first missing from 50 yards. After cornerback Alan Ball’s end-zone interception ended a Philadelphia threat, Eagles defensive end Brandon Bair blocked Scobee 36-yard field goal to end the Jaguars’ next drive.
Reserve running back Darren Sproles pulled the Eagles to within 10, 17-7, with a 49-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the third quarter. The play came on 4th-and-1, with Sproles popping a quick run up the middle with starting middle linebacker Paul Posluszny just having left the game.
The Eagles cut the lead to three with a 25-yard pass from Foles to tight end Zach Ertz on the ensuing possession, then tied it when rookie kicker Cody Parkey converted from 51 yards with 10:55 remaining in the game.
Maclin’s game-winning touchdown came on a high, arching pass from Foles when Maclin got 20 yards behind the Jaguars’ defense and scored untouched.
Parkey’s 28-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining secured the victory for the Eagles, and Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry returned a fumble 17 yards for a touchdown with 1:23 remaining.
This came at halftime, when everything that had been going the Jaguars’ way in the first half began tilting toward the Eagles. When Sproles burst through the middle of the Jaguars’ defense on the first series after halftime, it not only cut the Eagles’ deficit to 10, it gave Philadelphia momentum. The Eagles, after being outgained by the Jaguars 188-129, outgained the Jaguars 291-118 after that.
1.Clemons – a high-profile free-agent signee – made a huge play early, sacking Foles on 3rd-and-5 from Jaguars 43. Defensive end Ryan Davis recovered at the Eagles 44 to set up the Jaguars’ first touchdown. Clemons also had a pressure later in the quarter when he hit Foles’ arm to force an incomplete pass. …
2.Hurns turned his first career reception into a huge play, catching a 34-yard touchdown on a post route with 9:00 remaining to give the Jaguars a 7-0 lead. The play came four plays after Clemons’ sack fumble. …
3.Branch had a sack/fumble that defensive tackle Ziggy Hood recovered at the Eagles 21 on the drive immediately following Hurns’ first touchdown
4.Hurns followed his early touchdown with another touchdown on his second reception. This one was a 21-yarder that gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead with 6:50 remaining in the first quarter. On that play, Hurns reached behind him for the ball, then carried two defenders into the end zone. …
5.Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball registered a huge interception early in the second quarter. The Eagles drove to the Jaguars 5 after the missed 50-yarder by Scobee, but the veteran cornerback intercepted Foles in the left corner of the end zone to end the drive. That kept the score at 17-0, Jaguars. …
Safety Johnathan Cyprien sustained a head injury in the second quarter breaking up a pass and banging his head on the ground. He did not return.
Linebacker J.T. Thomas also sustained a head injury late in the game and did not return.
Posluszny sustained what appeared to be a leg injury early in the second half and returned a series later. Running back Toby Gerhart sustained a sprained ankle late in the first quarter, and returned early in the second quarter.
Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III missed the game for the Jaguars, having been ruled out Saturday with a hamstring injury. Tight end Clay Harbor (calf), as expected, also missed the opener, preventing him from playing against the team that released him shortly before the 2013 season. Also as expected, right tackle Austin Pasztor missed the game with a hand injury that is expected to also keep him out Week 2 against Washington. Running back Storm Johnson (ankle) also missed.
Fourth-year veteran Cameron Bradfield started for Pasztor. With Harbor out, newly signed Mickey Shulerplayed a week after he joined the Jaguars off waivers.
Johnson’s absence left the Jaguars with Gerhart, Robinson and Todman at running back. Also, tackle Josh Wells (shoulder) missed the game, with guard Tyler Shatley and defensive end Chris Smithalso inactive.