Blake Bortles outduels Russell Wilson in Jacksonville Jaguars' win over Seattle Seahawks

By Hays Carlyon, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 11, 2017 at 11:40 AM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is no longer a punchline.

The fourth-year veteran has been maligned for most of his career. The Jaguars were ridiculed for picking up his fifth-year option in May at an estimated price tag of $19 million in 2018.

Bortles struggled so much in training camp, head coach Doug Marrone started Chad Henne in the third preseason game before ultimately going back to the former third overall pick.

Stunningly, Bortles is now thriving.

Bortles produced the best game of his career on Sunday in leading the Jaguars to a 30-24 victory over Seattle at EverBank Field.

Bortles completed 18-of-27 passes for 268 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions with a 123.7 passer rating.

Sure, the Seahawks are without cornerback Richard Sherman, strong safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Cliff Avril, but there is still significant talent on that unit.

Bortles has enjoyed good games against bad defenses. Sunday's effort was a turning point. Bortles was able to deliver when it mattered against a quality defense in a high-stakes environment.

He passed for 309 yards with two touchdowns and no picks for a passer rating of 119.8 in a 30-10 win over visiting Indianapolis last week.

But, this was different.

"Blake had another really good game, so I'm excited about putting those things back-to-back," Marrone said. "You've got to give a lot of credit to Blake. I've said this before, that position is hard at times because you get a lot of blame, some of it's deserved and some of it's not."

The Jaguars (9-4) are now in sole possession of first place in the AFC South after Tennessee lost at Arizona. Bortles has helped guide the franchise to its first winning record since 2007 with three games still to play.

Bortles found rookie receiver Dede Westbrook for an 18-yard touchdown to give the Jaguars a 10-0 lead early in the third quarter.

After Seattle tied the game, Bortles found rookie receiver Keelan Cole for a 75-yard touchdown to give the Jaguars a 17-10 lead with 7:21 left in the third.

"It was kind of funny because we repped it a couple times during the week," Bortles said. "I think it was the first play of practice on Wednesday and I threw a pick on it. We changed up the read on it and said we're going to throw this ball to Keelan no matter what. If it's not open, check it down. He ran an unbelievable route and obviously ran away from everyone."

The Seahawks cut the lead to 30-24 as Seattle star quarterback Russell Wilson connected on touchdown throws of 61 and 74 yards.

But Bortles won the duel.

Wilson threw three interceptions. Bortles played turnover free.

"I put our offense in a chance to score points," Bortles said. "Obviously not turning the ball over is a big part of that. As long as we can do that, we'll go back and grade it. There will be plays that were bad that we have to get corrected, but there were a lot of plays made out there by the wide receivers, running backs and the offensive line that were pretty awesome."

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