The Jaguars escaped London with their first win of the season. The Jaguars managed to beat the Dolphins 23-20 thanks to a last-second field goal from Matthew Wright that split the uprights.
The path to that final play was not pretty for either team, however. The fourth quarter was filled with questionable decisions that came from both coaching staffs.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores will face most of the heat for the calls that led to Miami’s fifth straight loss. That said, Urban Meyer is not absolved of some of the choices that he made in the fourth quarter of Jacksonville’s win.
Here’s a run-down of the wild final quarter of the Jaguars-Dolphins game, starting with a decision that nearly proved costly to Meyer’s squad.
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Urban Meyer, Jaguars go for it on fourth down at inopportune time
Jacksonville was driving early in the fourth quarter of their game against Miami and had a 17-13 lead. The team was in the red zone when their drive stalled out after Trevor Lawrence threw an incomplete pass on third-and-1.
The ball was at the Dolphins’ 9-yard line, so most assumed that Meyer and the Jaguars would settle for a field goal to extend their lead to seven.
Instead, Meyer opted to go for it. The Jaguars handed the ball to James Robinson and he was stopped for no gain, resulting in a turnover on downs.
The play resulted in the Jaguars’ win probability dropping from 67 percent to 60.1 percent. And by the end of the ensuing Dolphins drive, which culminated in a touchdown, it had dropped all the way to 34.6 percent.
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Brian Flores, Dolphins’ first challenge
The Dolphins’ first major coaching blunder occurred with 6:51 left in the fourth quarter and the Dolphins leading 20-17. Tua Tagovailoa threw a pass to Myles Gaskin that the running back couldn’t hang onto. Originally, the pass was called complete on the field, but the officials convened to overrule the call.
It was pretty clear that the ball had hit the ground, but Brian Flores still opted to challenge the call. It was upheld after review, and CBS rules analyst and former referee Gene Steratore explained that even if the pass had been ruled complete on the field, he would have ruled it incomplete.
Dolphins’ hard-count attempt
Miami was on its own 46-yard line after Gaskin’s drop. So, despite it being fourth-and-1, the Dolphins didn’t appear to be serious about going for it. Still, they put the offense on the field and had Tagovailoa attempt to draw the Jaguars offsides to no avail.
The one issue with that decision? The Dolphins have used Jacoby Brissett as a short-yardage quarterback this season, but he wasn’t on the field at that time. As such, the Jaguars could tell that that Miami had no intention of going for it and didn’t come close to flinching on Tagovailoa’s hard count. They took a five-yard penalty and punted.
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Brian Flores’ second challenge
On the ensuing Dolphins’ punt, the Dolphins faced another challenge-worthy play. It appeared to Flores that Jamal Agnew may have touched the ball while trying to field a punt inside the 10-yard line. He may have had a case, as the ball came very close to glancing off Agnew’s index finger.
However, the referees didn’t agree. The ruling on the field stood as called, so that resulted in a second lost challenge for Flores. The Miami coach can hardly be blamed for his decision to challenge here, but it did cost the Dolphins another timeout that left them with one for the rest of the quarter with 6:39 left on the clock.
Jaguars decide to attempt 54-yard field goal
Spoiler alert: This decision panned out for the Jaguars, but it wasn’t without controversy. It was fourth-and-5 at the Miami 36-yard line with just under four minutes left in the game when Meyer let Matthew Wright attempt the kick.
Wright had only attempted one field goal longer than 50 yards during his NFL career. It was a miss and came last week in the Jaguars’ 37-19 loss to the Titans.
At first, it didn’t look like Wright’s kick was going to go through. However, it hooked at the last second to tie the game at 20.
Meyer’s decision paid off, but it’s worth noting that he elected not to attempt the field goal from much closer earlier in the game. Had Wright’s field goal stayed wide, this choice would certainly have been viewed differently.
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Dolphins go for it on fourth down with under two minutes left
The Dolphins had another fourth-down decision to make with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter. It was fourth-and-1 at the Miami 46, the same place from where they punted five minutes of game-time earlier.
This time, the Dolphins decide to go for it. However, their play call left a lot to be desired. The team once again operated with Tagovailoa at quarterback despite the short-yardage situation. He was also in the shotgun instead of being under center.
Even more questionable was the fact that the Dolphins had backup running back Malcolm Brown in the game for the play. Tagovailoa handed him the ball and he was stuffed for no gain. That gave the Jaguars the ball just outside of range for a game-winning field goal attempt and gave Jacksonville a win probability of 75 percent.
The Jaguars started their final drive by moving backward, but eventually, they worked into position for a 53-yard field goal attempt. Wright made it, so the Dolphins’ fourth-down failure proved to be the most consequential fourth-quarter call of the day.
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