By Terrance Turner
Aug. 23, 2021
The New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars are two teams with wildly different pasts — one a 12-4 team that advanced to the divisional round, the other a 1-15 team that missed the playoffs again. But tonight both teams are in similar positions: both have two quarterbacks competing for the starting job. In Jacksonville, No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence is up against Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew; in New Orleans, the absence of Drew Brees has QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill competing. But it was New Orleans that would prevail tonight.
On the Saints’ opening drive, Winston threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquez Galloway. With the score 7-0, the Jags took over with Trevor Lawrence. But they went three-and-out. So did the Saints on their ensuing drive. But then, out of nowhere, Winston hurled the ball across the field; it landed right in the hands of Galloway (again). Galloway made a one-handed grab in the end zone to make it 14-0.
Lawrence played gamely on his fourth series, getting his first third-down conversion of the game and later running into contact for a first down. But Saints cornerback C.J. Gardner Johnson foiled the Jacksonville offense. They had to settle for a 34-yard field goal. (Lawrence played the entire first half, going 14 for 23 with 113 yards and no touchdowns.)
The Jaguars later mounted a red-zone drive. But once again, the stout Saints defense forced Jacksonville to settle for a field goal. This time, the 43-yard field goal was no good. But on the Saints’ subsequent drive, kicker Aldrick Rosas drilled a 52-yard field goal. It was 17-3 at halftime.
Gardner Minshew replaced Lawrence at quarterback in the second half. The third quarter was largely scoreless until the Saints hit paydirt. New Orleans wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey caught a pass from Hill for the touchdown with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Jaguars made it all the way to the 10-yard line on their ensuing drive. But the Saints stopped them from reaching the end zone. Once again, the Jags attempted a field goal — which was good. It was 23-6 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, the stagnant Jacksonville offense finally came to life. A strong series of plays took the Jags down the field. A dramatic catch and run took the team from 3rd and 12 to 1st and goal. But on 2nd and goal, Minshew was intercepted in the end zone by Saints linebacker Wynton McManis. The Jags recovered when wide receiver Jeff Cotton caught a 3-yard touchdown.
Then, with just 2:46 left in the game receiver Collin Johnson caught a TD of his own. Left wide open in the end zone, Johnson easily made the catch to score a 24-yard touchdown. The Jaguars even tacked on a two-point conversion. But it wasn’t enough. The Saints won, 23-21.
UPDATE (Aug. 24): After last night’s loss, the Jaguars got more bad news today. Running back Travis Etienne (who was Lawrence’s teammate at Clemson) has suffered a Lisfranc injury. According to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, “A Lisfranc joint injury is a type of injury to the bones or ligaments, or both, in the middle part of your foot. In a Lisfranc joint injury, there is usually damage to the cartilage covering these bones. In the middle region of your foot (midfoot), a cluster of small bones form an arch. Five of these long bones (the metatarsals) extend to the toes.”
A twisting fall can may break one or more of these bones or shift the bones out of place, causing a Lisfranc injury (tarsometatarsal joint injury). They are common for soccer and football players. News broke today that Etienne will have to have foot injury and may miss up to 12 weeks of play.
In Etienne’s absence, many NFL fans are looking to undrafted rookie James Robinson:
UPDATE: The Jacksonville Jaguars have traded quarterback Gardner Minshew to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick. The sixth-round pick could rise to a fifth-rounder if Minshew is involved in 50% of the plays in three games this season, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Jaguars coach Urban Meyer announced Wednesday that top overall pick Trevor Lawrence had won the starting job. He will be starting quarterback for the Sept. 12 season opener in Houston, against the Texans.