The Jaguars had a four-point lead, two timeouts, 55 seconds on the clock and were in need of only 39 yards for a 54-yard field goal attempt. So what did Jacksonville do? It took a knee twice and headed to the locker room.
Later in the NFC Championship Game, the Eagles drove 60 yards and kicked a field goal on the final play of the first half after getting the ball with 29 seconds remaining.
Even after losing 24-20, Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone defended his decision.
“I thought for what they do coverage-wise and what we had to do, and we had the lead and they had just scored,” Marrone said Monday, via quotes distributed by the team. “I just didn’t want to put ourselves in a position [for something negative]. I wanted to get in leading at halftime. I didn’t think it was a great situation that we had been great at during the year. I thought the risk and reward for us at that moment in time was let’s go in and make our adjustments. Let’s get ourselves going, and let’s take this lead into halftime. That is exactly how I thought. Right or wrong.”
According to ESPN Stats and Info, it marked the first time this season that a team opted to kneel with 55 seconds remaining in the first half while holding two timeouts.
The Jaguars did receive the second-half kickoff, and Josh Lambo kicked a 54-yard field goal to up the team’s lead to 17-10. But three points before the half would have come in handy on their final possession of the game when they reached the New England 43 and turned it over on downs.
Needing a field goal instead of a touchdown to win would have changed the play-calling and decision-making.