JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady trudged off the field with his helmet in one hand, grass stains on his jersey and a look of frustration on his face.
This was a different feeling for the New England Patriots quarterback — at least against Jacksonville.
Brady lost for the first time in nine starts against the Jaguars, a 31-20 setback Sunday in which Blake Bortles outshined the three-time league MVP and five-time Super Bowl champion.
Jacksonville had been the only remaining AFC team to never beat Brady. The Jags (2-0) finally got it done in a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game.
It shouldn’t take long for Brady and the Patriots (1-1) to bounce back. They play winless Detroit next week.
“It’s a long year,” Brady said. “I think you have a bad day against a good team, it’s a recipe for losing.”
Brady completed 24 of 35 passes for 234 yards, with two touchdowns and a turnover. He was sacked twice, including once by Dante Fowler in the fourth quarter that caused a fumble. He said New England’s offensive execution has room for improvement.
“I don’t think it’s anywhere near where we’re capable of or what we’ve done at different points through a season,” Brady said. “We’ve got to make improvements, and I think September and October, that’s what they’re for. I think there’s a lot of practices we need and a lot of time that we need to figure out what we do well and what we don’t do so well. But you have to try to win in the meantime. And today obviously wasn’t enough.”
The Jaguars, who can get to 3-0 for the first time since 2004 next week against Tennessee, did just about everything right.
They held tight end Rob Gronkowski to two catches for 15 yards. They slowed New England’s running game to 3.4 yards a carry. They allowed just two plays longer than 25 yards.
And Bortles delivered the best game of his five-year career.
Bortles threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns. He tossed perfect passes in the end zone to Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the first half, and then connected with Dede Westbrook on a short crossing route in the fourth quarter that Westbrook turned into a 61-yard score .
“We go against Blake in practice,” Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said. “He has some days where he is just lights out and gets us. If he can get us, he can get anybody because we feel pretty good about ourselves. I know what’s going to happen. If he keeps getting opportunities, he’s going to be a big-time player.
“I was just grabbing popcorn every time the ball was in Bortles’ hands. I say, ‘He’s going to do something great’, and then he’s running and spinning and, man, it was impressive.”
Here are some other things we learned from the game:
COLE STEPS UP
Cole had the key block on Westbrook’s big play that sealed the victory and is proving to be the team’s go-to receiver. He finished with seven catches for 116 yards and a score. He made a spectacular, one-handed catch on Jacksonville’s second drive and beat Eric Rowe for a 24-yard touchdown three plays later that got Rowe benched.
“Keelan made an unbelievable play on the sideline,” coach Doug Marrone said. “Everybody saw that. He’s a guy that has been really steady for us, really worked his butt off. … The first year is tough. You’re trying to find your way. That second year you kind of get set in a way, and he’s been good right from the beginning, very focused and has done a nice job for us.”
The Jaguars can set a franchise record next week by winning their eighth consecutive game at home. They host Tennessee next Sunday. Jacksonville hasn’t lost at home since falling to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6 of last season.
The teams played in the hottest game in Jaguars history. Temperature at kickoff was 97 degrees, with a heat index of 107 degrees. According to the NFL, it was the warmest game since Green Bay played at Arizona in 2003.
The Patriots lost two of their best defenders to concussions. Defensive end Trey Flowers left the game in the first quarter, and safety Patrick Chung was hurt injured in the second half. Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson injured his left knee in the first quarter and was helped off the field.
The Patriots play at Detroit, where former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is now the head coach.
The Jaguars host AFC South rival Tennessee in the second of three straight home games.
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