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If someone told you that the Jacksonville Jaguars would have a difficult time winning games in 2021, you probably wouldn’t have batted an eye, but if that same someone told you to guess who’s head would be “spinning” because of it — you probably would’ve guessed it’d be the 21-year-old selected with the first-overall pick only five months prior. You’d be incorrect though, because rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence is remaining composed in the face of rare adversity — seeing as losing to the Cincinnati Bengals now means he has more NFL losses than both his high school and collegiate careers combined. 

It’s instead head coach Urban Meyer, who told reporters the loss on Thursday night had him turned around mentally.

Be not confused here, however, because Lawrence is also frustrated and determined to finally break into the win column. It’s just that he’s handling it differently than his head coach — already showing he’s mentally built for the NFL stage. So when the Jaguars saw the Bengals game-winning field goal sail through the uprights as time expired in regulation, he felt the gut punch, but isn’t laying on the mat wallowing in self-pity.

“We’re up 14-0 at halftime and come back out and just somehow come up on the wrong side of it,” Lawrence said, via the team’s website. “That’s tough. We’re going to bounce back, no doubt, I know what we’re made of. Just seeing how we’ve handled the first three weeks, I know nothing is going to change. 

“But, damn, I really want to get a win with these guys. We’ve just got to finish, collectively. It’s everybody. It’s not one side of the ball or anything like that. 

“It’s all of us finishing. I’m not even going to say it’s going to take time, we’re right there and you guys have seen it the last few weeks.”

For his part, Lawrence didn’t deliver a lights-out performance but he was efficient and mistake-free in the passing game, and contributed 36 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on eight carries. He also didn’t blink when he lost top wide receiver D.J. Chark to a fractured ankle early in the first half, leaning heavily on big plays made time and again by former second-round pick Laviska Shenault, a target who racked up a team-high 99 yards against the Bengals.

Lawrence and the Jaguars also got help from running back James Robinson — who ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries — and a defense that help former first-round pick Joe Burrow and Co. to only four first downs and zero points in the first half, but Burrow led the Bengals to a 14-point third quarter and that set the stage for a standoff between the two first-overall picks from 2020 and 2021, with Burrow having the final say.

“Played well in the first half obviously,” Meyer told media. “They were running the ball pretty good in the third quarter and then we tightened up against the run and they had matchup advantages — they felt — in man coverage, and in zone coverage they were picking us apart and they caught us in the zero blitz.

“It was obviously the same thing you saw. We were up 14-0 and they go right down the field, hit a deep ball on [rookie cornerback] Tyson [Campbell] and then they came back, running the ball and picked us apart.”

It’s the second week in a row wherein the Jaguars took the lead into the half, the first being after an NFL record-setting 109-yard touchdown by Jamal Agnew to take a 13-7 lead against another former first-round pick in Kyler Murray, before Murray went on to lead the Arizona Cardinals to a 31-19 victory in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have seemingly gotten over the hump of suffering slow starts, but can’t yet figure out how to close out games. Meyer went on to double down on his belief in “the core” of the Jaguars and made it clear he expects to win a game soon. 

So does Lawrence, but the latter remains upbeat and seemingly a bit more confident it’ll happen. 



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