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NFL

This Onside Kick Was A New Low For The Jaguars

Urban Meyer walks off the field
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Jaguars-Seahawks massacre was over long before the final two minutes—according to ESPN, Seattle’s win probability plateaued over 99 percent while the game was still in the third quarter—but Urban Meyer and the Jags still found a way to embarrass themselves. In the game’s dying embers, a bizarre mix of cowardice, boldness, skill, and incompetence coalesced to deliver Jacksonville a humiliating, season-defining kick to the crotch.

None of it happens if Trevor Lawrence doesn’t finally complete a touchdown pass with 1:49 to go in the game. Coming out of a bye week that followed the team’s win in London, the Jags’ rookie QB had what you could politely call a “tentative” game, completing 32 of 54 passes for a mere 238 yards, with one sloppy interception that helped the Seahawks build their early lead. But on a late red-zone fourth down, with the Jaguars losing 24-0, Lawrence stepped up in the pocket and found Jamal Agnew for six. Nobody celebrated.

This is where things got weird. I suppose there was still a barely plausible way that the Jaguars could have won the game, which involved getting the two-point conversion, recovering an onside kick, getting another quick eight points, recovering another onside kick, then scoring again to tie the game at 24, and then winning in overtime. This was never, ever going to happen unless Meyer, for his sins, was cursed with the task of living out these final two minutes again and again for eternity, which is not out of the question. But mathematically speaking, the only way to turn a three-possession game into a two-possession game was by going for two. Meyer instead elected to kick the extra point, which, fine, OK, there’s nothing even all that shameful about waving the white flag and letting the loss wrap itself up uneventfully.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when, down 17 instead of 16, the Jaguars nevertheless decided to go for an onside kick. Absolute nonsense, right? Either play the game or don’t play the game, Urban; don’t scare me by rapidly toggling back and forth between competitive and noncompetitive settings.

Meyer’s chaotic choices, poetically and satisfyingly, led to chaotic consequence. Seattle’s Travis Homer caught the kick on the bounce and took off sprinting for the end zone, beating every Jaguar and giving the game its final score of 31-7.

“Yeah, I should have kicked it deep,” Meyer said after the game. “We kind of had that discussion on the sidelines. They wanted to try it and work on some things, get another possession.”

Well, they did get another possession.