More than three hours of nerve-shredding, often sloppy, action led to one second left and a kick at the death, one Matthew Wright and the Jacksonville Jaguars will be hard-pressed to forget.
The kicker, fresh from the practice squad last week, found three points as the clock ticked to zero to snap Jacksonville’s 20-match losing streak and deliver a first win for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence who finished the day with one touchdown, no interceptions and 312 yards on the day.
The running back James Robinson was Jacksonville’s other star on the day, his one-yard score breathing life into his side and giving them the lead in the second half after trailing for the entirety of the first.
A win gives London’s nominal home team a glimmer of hope to build on after starting the season with five losses while Miami sink to five defeats and one win. On the other side Tua Tagovailoa’s return for Miami offered hope with two touchdowns to receiver Jalen Waddle but it was not enough.
Miami’s returning quarterback Tagovailoa started the show with a series of quick strikes. The quarterback found his former Alabama teammate Waddle four times on the downfield stroll including the final play, an easy six-yard touchdown for the wide receiver to take out a 7-0 lead for Miami.
Just as Jacksonville’s defence rolled out the red carpet, so did Miami’s providing little resistance for Lawrence and company in the early stages but tight end Dan Arnold dropped an easy ball on third down in Dolphins territory. Wright stepped up following the breakdown with a 40-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Miami’s next possession stuttered after a holding penalty forced them to take a 33-yard field goal from Jason Sanders. After a punt the Dolphins continued to chip away but, after a second drop on the day from Myles Gaskin, Sanders was called on again for another set of three from 24 yards to extend the lead to 13-3.
The Jaguars desperately needed a spark before half-time and Lawrence heeded the call with a stunning 28 yard strike to Marvin Jones. The quarterback’s pinpoint pass pierced Miami’s coverage and allowed Jones to grab the crucial touchdown leaving them trailing 13-10 at the whistle.
That spark caught fire at the start of the third quarter with Robinson breaking off a huge 24-yard run which put the Jaguars inches from another score. Robinson followed up for a one-yard touchdown that put Jacksonville up, for the first time, 17-13.
Miami responded with a 91-yard touchdown drive as Waddle snagged a two-yard touchdown to give Miami the lead once more at 20-17. The Jaguars responded with a 54-yard field goal from Wright setting up a breathless finish with 3min 40sec left on the clock and the score tied at 20-20.
Nerves firmly set in from here. Miami were stuffed at the line on fourth down from one yard when they should have easily moved the chains.
The biggest cheer of the day erupted for the Jaguars when the measurement was confirmed. Short. An incredible turnover on downs. Lawrence had the ball and moved them within range of the win only to seemingly be knocked back again by a sack from Miami’s swarming pass rush.
Lawrence dug deep, though, and found a first down on fourth and long to give Wright a final shot at glory with only one second left on the clock. It was never in doubt. The kick sailed through the uprights from 53 yards and the game was sealed.
The NFL’s short stay in London turned incredibly sweet for Lawrence as he became the first rookie quarterback to win on foreign soil after five failures before him but Wright’s golden boot was the difference on the day.