JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Blake Bortles was solid in his preseason debut, throwing for 117 yards and leading a second-half drive for a field goal to help the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-10 on Friday night.
The third overall pick in this year’s draft completed 7 of 11 passes, including a 31-yarder down the middle of the field to Mike Brown to set up a 26-yard field goal that gave the Jaguars a 10-3 lead late in the third quarter.
The Bucs were penalized for a late hit on the rookie from Central Florida, tacking on another 15 yards.
Tampa Bay drove 85 yards to make it 10-10 on Mike Glennon’s 6-yard scoring pass to Tommy Streeter, but dropped its first game under coach Lovie Smith when a defense that had done a good job of keeping Jacksonville’s offense out of the end zone faltered in the fourth quarter.
Denard Robinson’s 23-yard TD run put the Jaguars ahead for good with under seven minutes remaining. Jacksonville also scored on Winston Guy Jr.’s 68-yard interception return in the first quarter.
Tampa Bay’s first-team offense sputtered while playing into the second quarter. In addition to throwing the interception that was returned for a TD, Josh McCown was sacked twice and lost a fumble.
Chad Henne started for the Jaguars and played four series before being replaced by Bortles, who has yet to take a snap with Jacksonville’s first-team offense in training camp.
The rookie received a nice ovation from the announced crowd of 59,100 at EverBank Field before completing his first pass for 24 yards to Allen Hurns.
Two plays later, he rolled out of the pocket to his left and showed he has a sense of when he needs to take a little off his throws with a nice flip to fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou for a 12-yard gain.
Smith and first-year general manager Jason Licht spent in free agency to bring in four new starters for Tampa Bay’s defense and also rebuild an offensive line that did not protect McCown well Friday night.
The 35-year-old quarterback, a career backup who began training camp as a projected starter for the time in a decade, was hurried into a couple of bad throws and also took a hard hit at the end of a 9-yard scramble.
Henne, meanwhile, completed 4 of 7 for 30 yards. The Jaguars hurt themselves with a pair of bad snaps that sailed over the quarterback’s head in shotgun formation. The second one rolled 21 yards on fourth down, helping set up the 44-yard field goal for Tampa Bay’s first points of the game.
McCown finished 2 of 4 for 20 yards with one interception. He rushed for 13 yards on two carries.
The Jaguars played without starting running back Toby Gerhart and receivers Cecil Shorts III and Allen Robinson. Safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Alterraun Verner, one of Tampa Bay’s key offseason acquisitions, did not dress for the Bucs.