Cowboys vs. Jaguars score, takeaways: Trevor Lawrence has four TDs, Jacksonville walks off with pick-6 in OT

The Dallas Cowboys appeared to be on the verge of accomplishing something they hadn’t done in 15 years — make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars forced them to wait at least another week, thanks to their 40-34 overtime win.

The Jaguars trailed 27-10, before finishing the game on a 30-7 run. They sealed the win with their defense as safety Rayshawn Jenkins hauled in his career-high second interception off a deflected Dak Prescott pass, and he took it 52 yards for the game-ending touchdown. The play was incredibly clutch since the defense needed a stop to bail out their offense after they went three-and-out at the start of the overtime period.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, put together the signature game of his career so far, throwing a career-high four touchdowns in addition to 318 yards and an interception on 27-of-42 passing. Following a 53-yard field goal from kicker Brett Maher that increased the Cowboys’ lead to 27-10, Lawrence threw a touchdown on three consecutive drives — a career-long 59-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Zay Jones, a 10- yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Marvin Jones and a three-yard touchdown throw to Jones once again.

With the go-ahead passing touchdown to Zay Jones that made the score 31-27, Lawrence became the first Jaguars player with a passing touchdown on three straight drives since Blake Bortles in 2015. Jones’ three receiving touchdowns set a new career high and surpassed his season total of two that he had accumulated in the season’s first 14 weeks. Lawrence has now thrown 14 touchdowns and only one interception in his last six games dating back to Week 9, making him one of the most locked-in quarterbacks in the entire NFL.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott almost played well enough to win despite the two interceptions. He threw for 256 yards and three scores, including a go-ahead 13-yard strike to wide receiver Noah Brown with just over three minutes left in the game that gave the Cowboys a 34-31 advantage. On the very next drive, Lawrence escaped pressure and sprinted down the field inside the Cowboys’ 40, but Dallas safety Jayron Kearse came in from behind to knock the football loose. Of course, linebacker Micah Parsons jumped on top of the football, swinging the game in the Cowboys’ favor.

However, the Jaguars defense came up with a humongous three-and-out, getting Lawrence the ball back for one last chance trailing 34-31 with 1:13 to go and one timeout from his own 29. Lawrence delivered, leading a seven- play drive that gained 41 yards to set up kicker Riley Patterson for the game-tying 48-yard field goal that forced overtime.

The Dallas defense didn’t get out of Jacksonville unscathed, losing linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with a neck injury and defensive lineman Dorrance Armstrong to a knee injury. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will have to put together one of the best coaching performances of his career in order to slow down NFL MVP candidate and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in Week 16.

Why the Jaguars won

The Jaguars could have tapped out down 27-10 against the Cowboys, the NFC’s top wild-card team. No one would have blamed them. They’re a team that has had the first overall draft pick in each of the last two drafts, very much still building towards the team they hope to be. However, Lawrence turned it on, continuing his top-five quarterback level of play that he has brought to the field in each of his last six games.

Staring down a three-score hole and responding by throwing three consecutive touchdowns is All-Pro-level play. After a rough rookie season, the Jaguars can now be confident they have their franchise quarterback. Timely plays by their defense also can’t be overlooked either. The two interceptions by Jenkins were huge as his first created the opportunity for Lawrence’s three straight touchdown passes, and the second one won the game. They also forced Dallas to go three-and-out after Lawrence fumbled near the end of regulation. That sequence gave their offense just enough time to get in range for the 48-yard field goal that forced overtime.

Why the Cowboys lost

This loss is much more on Prescott’s arm and the offense than it is on the defense. Leading 27-17, Prescott made the costly mistake of throwing an interception inside his own 20. Four plays later, Lawrence threw his second of three straight touchdowns, and the Jaguars were only down 27-24.

Additionally, failing to get a single first down after the defense stripped Lawrence on a scramble is glaring. Two first downs may have sealed the win in regulation for Dallas, but instead it went three-and-out. The Jaguars proceeded to move the ball on a tired Cowboys defense and kick the game-tying field goal to send the game to overtime.

Prescott’s ball security nearly cost the Cowboys a win a week ago against the NFL’s worst team, the Houston Texans. In Week 15, it did. He’s thrown 11 interceptions in his nine starts this year, a troubling trend that will definitely doom them against the Eagles and down the road in the playoffs if not corrected.

Turning point

Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins’ first interception gave Jacksonville the life it needed. The Jaguars were able to start an offensive possession in Dallas territory shortly after Lawrence threw the longest touchdown pass of his career, 59 yards to Zay Jones. Four plays after Jenkins’ interception, Lawrence threw another touchdown to Marvin Jones that had them within three points, 27-24. Game on.

Play of the game

The play of the game couldn’t be anything else but Jenkins’ game-winning, 52-yard pick-six. After the Jaguars offense couldn’t get going and was forced to punt, their defense was in a precarious spot: Surrender a field goal and the game is over. However, Jenkins was once again in the right place at the right time, showing great concentration to haul in a deflected pass and turn on the jets to seal the come-from-behind win.

What’s next

Next week, the Cowboys return home to face the NFL-leading 13-1 Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Eve in a fight for NFC East supremacy. The Jaguars hit the road and head to The Meadowlands to face the New York Jets, the team that picked former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson one spot after Lawrence went first overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

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