JACKSONVILLE – A game that went against script still had a chance to go right for the Jaguars late.
The Jaguars, in a “benchmark” game in the 2023 regular-season home opener against the defending Super Bowl champions, couldn’t quite overcome Patrick Mahomes – or their own missed opportunities and mistakes – and the Kansas City Chiefs held on for a 17-9 victory in front of 69,615 at EverBank Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Mahomes – the Chiefs’ quarterback and a two-time NFL and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player – capped drives with touchdown passes to end the first half and start the second, turning a slim Jaguars lead into a lead Kansas City held thereafter.
Mahomes passed nine yards wide receiver Skyy Moore late in the first half for the Chiefs’ first lead, then capped the next Chiefs drive – the first of the third quarter – with a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce.
The Jaguars trailed by the final margin late and drove to a first down at the Chiefs 14. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s incomplete pass into the end zone to wide receiver Calvin Ridley on fourth-and-12 from the Chiefs 14 ended the drive with 4:18 remaining.
Officials ruled Ridley was bobbling the pass and didn’t have possession. The ensuing drive ended with the Chiefs kneeling out the clock to end the game inside the Jaguars 5.
The Jaguars (1-1) lost an eighth consecutive meeting to the Chiefs (1-1) dating to 2009, with Kansas City beating the Jaguars once in Week 10 last season and once in an AFC Divisional Playoff this past January.
A game that projected as a possible shootout never became that Sunday, with teams that ranked in the Top 10 in offense in 2022 combining for two touchdowns and four turnovers.
Lawrence completed 22 of 41 passes for 241 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. Mahomes completed 29 of 41 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Missed opportunities hurt the Jaguars again against the Chiefs. Five first-half Jaguars drives past midfield Sunday yield six points for the Jaguars. Five drives past midfield in the first half of a regular-season loss to Kansas City last season yielded seven points.
The Jaguars scored six points on three possessions inside the Chiefs 20. They had three points on two fourth-quarter red-zone opportunities.
The Jaguars registered a sacks and three takeaways – with a sack by linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson. Wide receiver Tim Jones and inside linebacker Foye Oluokun recovered first-half fumbles and safety Andre Cisco registered a second-quarter interception.
The Jaguars have five sacks and six takeaways this season.
The teams exchanged punts through first quarter, with each team driving past midfield once and punting to end the possession.
The Jaguars gained momentum early in a turnover-heavy second-quarter, taking a 3-0 lead with kicker Brandon McManus’ 32-yard field goal with 12:59 remaining in the first half. That play came four plays after Jones recovered a muff by Chiefs punt returner Richie James at the Chiefs 17. The Jaguars forced three turnovers in the quarter and Kansas City forced one. A nine-yard pass from Mahomes to Moore gave the Chiefs a 7-3 lead with :27 remaining in the half, with the Jaguars immediately driving 44 yards on five plays for a 49-yard field goal by McManus on the last play of the second quarter. A 26-yard pass from Lawrence to Ridley helped set up the field goal.
The Chiefs drove quickly to start the second half with Mahomes passes for another nine-yard touchdown pass, this one to Kelce, for a 14-6 lead with 11:30 remaining in a third quarter that ended with that score.
The Jaguars cut the lead but missed an opportunity early in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars faced first-and-goal at the one after a pass interference penalty. Lawrence lost three yards on first down, with McManus’ 22-yard field goal after two incomplete passes cutting the Chiefs’ lead to 14-9 with 13:43 remaining. A 38-yard field goal by Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker pushed the Chiefs’ lead to 17-9 with 8:10 remaining.
Game day inactives for the Jaguars Sunday were safety Antonio Johnson (hamstring), rookie wide receiver Parker Washington, rookie wide receiver Elijah Cooks and running back JaMycal Hasty. Right guard Brandon Scherff and center Luke Fortner played after being listed as questionable on Friday’s final injury report of the week with ankle injuries sustained in a Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones sustained a knee injury in the second quarter and returned.
Outside linebacker Josh Allen sustained a shoulder injury in the third quarter and returned.
Running back Travis Etienne Jr. left with cramps in the fourth quarter.