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2023 NFL season, Week 7: What We Learned from Jaguars' win over Saints on Thursday night

Jacksonville Jaguars
2023 · 5-2-0
New Orleans Saints
2023 · 3-4-0


  1. Jaguars defense bent but didn’t break on late goal-line stop. The Jaguars’ defense came into the game touting its league-high 15 takeaways and its “Think Takeaway” philosophy, and it added to the total with a crucial pick-six by Foye Oluokun in the third quarter. But things got awfully dicey late, as Derek Carr and the Saints’ offense woke up out of a long slumber. The Saints were knocking on the door, down 31-24 in the waning moments, with a first-and-goal at the Jacksonville 6-yard line. But Carr misfired on his next three passes, as Montaric “Buster” Brown -- starting in place of injured Tyson Campbell -- broke up the fourth-down pass to Chris Olave to save the game. Did they get lucky with Foster Moreau dropping a would-be TD on third down? Oh, yes. But in a short week on the road, a shorthanded defense came up big in the biggest spot.
  2. Saints offense wakes up to make it a game but falters late. The Saints’ offensive struggles -- especially at the Superdome -- picked up right where they left off early on, as New Orleans totaled six first-half points and left a lot of meat on the bone. Carr and his receivers were not on the same page. Alvin Kamara was doing work, but the rest of the unit labored. The Saints gummed up for a 16-play touchdown drive to make it a one-score game early in the fourth and then tied it with four minutes left, as Carr found Michael Thomas for his first touchdown since Week 2 of last season. Things were looking up, even after the Jags took back the lead, as Carr led them down into the red zone. But a misfire, a pressured incompletion, a dropped TD and another incompletion ended the night. The Saints showed grit, converting four fourth downs on the night, but they also turned it over twice on downs and were a ghastly 3 for 18 on third downs. Those sins, plus too many field goals early, came back to bite them in the end.
  3. Captain Kirk delivers late, atoning for early fumble. Christian Kirk ripped off 19 yards on his second catch of Thursday’s game, but he coughed the ball up, stunting the Jaguars’ early momentum. He caught five first-half passes in total but went dark until late -- just when the Jaguars’ slumping offense needed him most. With just over three minutes left in a tied game, Kirk ran an option route underneath, first shaking the Saints’ Tyrann Mathieu and then racing 44 yards for a touchdown. Jacksonville hadn’t had a drive go that long in the second half, as the Saints’ defense dug in after falling behind 17-6 at half. The Jaguars’ only other points after that came on defense before Kirk delivered.
  4. Trevor Lawrence’s knee holds up, as he leads Jaguars in rushing. We’re guessing this was not the plan coming into Thursday, but Lawrence’s scrambling ability ended up being a key factor in Thursday’s victory. Lawrence hadn’t missed any of his first 42 NFL starts (including postseason), and he didn’t Thursday, either, despite coming into the game questionable with a knee sprain. He wore a brace on his left knee but showed early on 9- and 26-yard scrambles (the latter was the second-longest run in his career) that his movement was not an issue. Lawrence opted not to pull the ball from Travis Etienne’s belly on a fourth-and-1 stop midway through the fourth quarter when it looked like there was running room for the QB. But on the next drive, Lawrence took off again for 23 more yards, finishing the night with five scrambles for 62 yards, not counting his kneel-downs. He found a nice throwing rhythm early, but when the passing game hit the skids, Lawrence clearly was unafraid of taking off.
  5. Saints’ offensive issues aren’t suddenly fixed with late flourish. New Orleans has back-to-back 400-yard outings on offense, but it took 87 plays to hit the mark Thursday, for an average of 4.7 yards per play. Even with two late TD drives, the Saints sandwiched those around two three-and-outs when they had shifted momentum back in their favor. Kamara had 153 yards and 29 touches four days after he had 22 at Houston. That's asking a lot, but he’s their most reliable playmaker at this point. Even with Olave getting into the game in the second half, and Thomas getting in the end zone, the Saints racked up too many empty possessions. Carr got angry at his receivers (even Kamara once) multiple times, although one came when Olave stopped his route and Carr … threw the ball five yards out of bounds. Carr also expressed his frustration toward offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, to whom Carr apologized after having similar “chats” late in the frustrating loss to Houston. There’s just still a lot to get ironed out with this unit. 

Next Gen stat of the game: The Saints defense generated only three team pressures against Trevor Lawrence (8.6% pressure rate), the lowest pressure rate by a defense in a game this season. The Saints pass rush did not pressure Lawrence on a single dropback in the second half.

NFL Research: The Saints had gone 18 straight games without giving up an opening-drive TD before the Jaguars’ Travis Etienne ended that streak Thursday. The last team to score against the Saints on their first drive had been the Seahawks in Week 5 of the 2022 season.

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