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 by Matthew Wright that split the posts.
However, the road to that last play was not a pleasant one for either team. The fourth quarter was filled with questionable decisions that came from both coaching staffs.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores will face most of the pressure from the decisions that led to Miami’s fifth straight loss. That said, Urban Meyer is not without some of the decisions he made in the fourth quarter of Jacksonville’s victory.
Here’s a rundown of the wild final quarter of the Jaguars-Dolphins game, beginning with a decision that almost proved costly for Meyer’s team.
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Urban Meyer and the Jaguars try fourth down at an inopportune moment
Jacksonville was driving early in the fourth quarter of its game against Miami and had a 17-13 lead. The team was in the red zone when their unit stalled after Trevor Lawrence threw an incomplete pass at third and 1.
The ball was at the Dolphins’ 9-yard line, so most assumed that Meyer and the Jaguars would settle for one field goal to extend their lead to seven.
Instead, Meyer chose to do it. The Jaguars handed the ball to James Robinson and stopped him for no gain, resulting in a turnover.
The play resulted in the Jaguars’ probability of victory falling from 67 percent to 60.1 percent. And by the end of the Dolphins’ next series, which culminated in a touchdown, it had dropped to 34.6 percent.
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Brian Flores, first challenge for the Dolphins
The Dolphins’ first major training error occurred with 6:51 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Dolphins leading 20-17. Tua Tagovailoa threw a pass to Myles Gaskin that the runner couldn’t hold on to. Originally, the pass was called complete on the field, but officials met to overturn the call.
It was pretty clear that the ball had hit the ground, but Brian Flores still chose to challenge the call. It was confirmed after a review, and CBS rules analyst and former referee Gene Steratore explained that even if the pass had been declared complete on the field, he would have declared it incomplete.
Dolphin hard count attempt
Miami was at its own 46-yard line after Gaskin’s knockdown. So despite being fourth and 1, the Dolphins didn’t seem to take the attempt seriously. Still, they put the offense on the field and made Tagovailoa try to lure the Jaguars offside to no avail.
The only problem with that decision? The Dolphins have used Jacoby Brissett as a short-range quarterback this season, but he wasn’t on the field at the time. As such, the Jaguars realized that Miami had no intention of going for it and came not close to backing down from the tough Tagovailoa account. They received a five-yard penalty and cleared.
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Brian Flores’ second challenge
On the Dolphins’ next punt, the Dolphins faced another challenging play. It seemed to Flores that Jamal Agnew may have touched the ball while attempting to field a punt inside the 10-yard line. He may have had a case, as the ball came very close to bouncing off Agnew’s index finger.
However, the referees disagreed. The on-field failure remained as it was called, resulting in a second lost challenge for Flores. The Miami coach can hardly be blamed for his decision to challenge here, but it cost the Dolphins another timeout that left them with one for the rest of the quarter with 6:39 left.
The jaguars decide to attempt a 54-yard field goal
Spoiler alert: This decision worked for the Jaguars, but it was not without controversy. He was fourth and 5 at Miami’s 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 of more than 50 yards during his NFL career. It was a mistake and it 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 happen. However, he was hooked in the final second to tie the game at 20.
Meyer’s decision paid off, but it’s worth noting that he chose not to attempt the field goal from much closer early in the game. Had Wright’s field goal stayed wide, this pick would certainly have looked different.
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The dolphins try it on the fourth chance with less than two minutes to go
The Dolphins had another decision to make on the fourth down with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter. He was fourth and one at Miami 46, the same spot from which they cleared five minutes before game time.
This time, the Dolphins decide to give it a try. However, his play call left a lot to be desired. The team once again operated with Tagovailoa at quarterback despite the close range situation. It was also on the shotgun rather than under the center.
Even more questionable was the fact that the Dolphins had backup running back Malcolm Brown in play of the play. Tagovailoa handed him the ball and they put it in for no gain. That gave the Jaguars the ball just out of reach for a game-winning field goal attempt and gave Jacksonville a 75 percent chance of winning.
The Jaguars began their last march moving backwards, but eventually managed to position themselves for a 53-yard field goal attempt. Wright pulled it off, so the Dolphins’ fourth-down failure turned out to be the biggest decision of the day in the fourth quarter.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.