Coyotes' turnaround continues with OT win over Islanders

Jan 23, 2018 0

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet praised forward Nick Cousins, not just for his game-winning goal against the New York Islanders but also for his improved overall play.

Cousins scored his second goal of the game 2:21 into overtime to lift the Coyotes to a 3-2 win over the Islanders on Monday night.

“I’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Tocchet said. “He’s done really well. I’ve sat him out this year. He’s worked on his game. He’s always got a smile on his face coming to work to practice. He’s worked on his game and he’s starting to reap the benefits.”

Cousins added an assist and the Coyotes ran their points streak to five games, a season high. Arizona has points in seven of eight games, with six of those going to overtime. Brendan Perlini scored for the third time in three games and Antti Raanta stopped 32 shots.

“One thing we’ve got to do is we’ve got to expect to win,” Tocchet said. “I hate hoping, I want expecting.”

Rick Tocchet senses his team is toughening up: “We need to come to the rink expecting to win.” @ArizonaCoyotes pic.twitter.com/lct9Y1e4mU

— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 23, 2018

Anthony Beauvillier had his second straight two-goal game for the Islanders, who have lost three of four and eight of 12. Beauvillier has eight goals in the last seven games. Jaroslav Halak finished with 30 saves.

The winning play started with a key save from Raanta that led to a Coyotes rush. Cousins passed to Christian Fischer, then skated to the front of the net for Fischer’s pinpoint pass and put away the winner with a backhand for his seventh of the season and first-ever overtime goal.

“I think since we turned the page here in 2018 we have all four lines contributing,” Cousins said. “It’s been fun coming to the rink, right?”

“Overtime is a crapshoot,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said. “We had four or five great opportunities.”

Arizona was largely in command in the first period with a goal from 12 shots. Cousins flipped in a backhand off the rebound from teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot with 7:40 left in opening period.

The Islanders, with 27 goals in their previous six games, went 10:31 before their first shot and needed a few saves from Halak to keep from trailing by more than a goal. It marked the longest the Coyotes had gone to start a game this season without allowing a shot.

It took the Islanders 34 seconds into the second period to tie the score. Beauvillier followed his own saved shot by knocking in the rebound off Raanta.

“We played a strong game but just couldn’t capitalize on the chances we had,” Beauvillier said. “It’s just disappointing to leave here with one point.”

After the Islanders successfully killed a penalty, Perlini positioned himself in front of Halak to deflect Luke Schenn’s shot past Halak for a 2-1 Coyotes lead midway through the second.

Brendan Perlini: Different guys are stepping up every night for @ArizonaCoyotes. pic.twitter.com/0VPcN08TqK

— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 23, 2018

“It was not bad … I’m trying to get better at that part of my game,” Perlini said of being around the net for tip-ins.

Perlini’s 13 goals are tied for second on the Coyotes this season. His goal gave the Coyotes 62 of their 116 total goals this season scored by a player 22 years old or younger.

Beauvillier scored his 12th goal of the season on the rebound of teammate Thomas Hickey’s shot, tying it at 2 at 2:53 of the third.

“Everybody’s following the game plan,” Raanta said. “When you’re dialed in you start sacrificing your body a little bit more than when you’re not. That’s the big thing for us.”

NOTES:Arizona acquired D John Ramage from the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the day in exchange for future considerations and assigned him to the Tucson Roadrunners. Ramage, 26, played in 33 games with Cleveland of the AHL this season and has appeared in two career NHL games. … The Coyotes wore decals with the letters “JJ” on their helmets in tribute to longtime USA Hockey executive Jim Johansson, who died unexpectedly on Sunday. A moment of silence was held before the opening faceoff. … Islanders D Scott Mayfield left the game for a time in the second period to get stitches after taking a stick to the face, then returned to action. … Islanders F Shane Prince was scratched with a lower body injury, missing his second straight game.

UP NEXT

Coyotes: Host Columbus on Thursday night.

Zucker scores again in Wild's 3-1 win over Senators

Jan 23, 2018 0

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Daniel Winnik walked the final block to the arena so he wouldn’t be late. Tyler Ennis rear-ended teammate Matt Dumba as the two approached Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center. Jonas Brodin arrived just minutes before the pregame warmups because of a blizzard hitting the Twin Cities.

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Stripped of their normal pregame routine, the Wild were still plenty prepared to face Ottawa.

Jason Zucker scored for the fourth straight game and Alex Stalock made 37 saves to help Minnesota beat the Senators 3-1 Monday night. Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund also scored for the Wild, who are 4-0-2 in the past six games.

“The monotony of showing up to the rink the same time every day, to break it up and guys are kind of wheeling in whenever, it keeps it light in here and sometimes you need that and a change of pace and I think it helped tonight,” Stalock said. “It wasn’t an easy game, but we had a good third period.”

Matt Duchene scored his seventh goal for Ottawa. Mike Condon made his first start since Dec. 30 and made 33 saves as the Senators lost for the fourth time in five games.

“I thought we gave it a great effort,” Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. “Right away at the start they get that goal and definitely we could’ve folded in and said it’s one of those nights, but I thought it was the opposite. Our guys fought real hard.”

The rapid accumulating snow caused several players to arrive to the arena much later than their normal time for preparation, though all were in on the ice for pregame warmups. Some players said their commutes were nearly two hours longer than normal.

As they approached the arena, some received a police escort for the final stretch. The team arranged for valets to come out for others that were stuck in traffic, allowing the players to walk to the arena while someone brought their cars the rest of the way.

“Guys were just kind of throwing gear on, getting dressed and going,” Zucker said.

Any late arrivals didn’t get the chance to see Parise’s second goal of the season and second in two games. He scored just 45 seconds in after Staal cycled around the back of the net and slid the puck across the crease to a wide-open Parise on the back side.

Duchene tied it in the second period after rookie Chris DiDomenico sprung him for a breakaway. Duchene has 14 points in 31 games since he was acquired from Colorado.

“That’s one you’ve got to step on the throat in the third and make sure we have it,” Duchene said. “Obviously it’s been a tough go and maybe we didn’t have the confidence to finish it off there, but we have to be a little more desperate and make sure we get it.”

Zucker tied Eric Staal for the team lead with 19 goals this season five minutes into the third for the game-winner in front of a sparse crowd. Granlund assisted on Zucker’s goal before adding his own tally five minutes later.

“I think we’re pretty desperate when you think about it,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We need the points. I don’t think Ottawa does. We are looking at the scoreboard and seeing Colorado winning and other teams winning. You know this is a game you should be winning. So I think we pushed a little harder in the third.”

NOTES:Ottawa D Johnny Oduya missed his sixth game of the season with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t make the short two-game trip with the team and will be out until after the All-Star break. … Minnesota F Tyler Ennis was a healthy scratch. It was just his second missed game of the season. He has six goals and seven assists in 46 games in his first season with the Wild. … The Senators gave up the first goal for the 26th time in 45 games this season. They are 4-17-5 when the opponent scores first. … Minnesota is 7-0-2 at home since Dec. 27, outscoring opponents 35-17 over that stretch. The Wild have earned a point in 16 of the past 17 home games.

UP NEXT

Senators: At St. Louis on Tuesday night.

Wild: At Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

Sloppy Suns can't stop Freak-less Bucks after Kidd fired

Jan 23, 2018 4

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton spent three-plus years under Jason Kidd’s tutelage, blossoming into a dangerous scorer with the Milwaukee Bucks.

He showed off what he learned in the Bucks’ first game without Kidd.

Middleton scored 35 points, Malcolm Brogdon added a career-high 32 and Milwaukee beat the Phoenix Suns 109-105 on Monday night hours after firing Kidd.

“It’s tough for me,” Middleton said. “He took my game to another level. He took this team to a whole other level. Today was a tough day.”

Assistant Joe Prunty was promoted to replace Kidd for the rest of the year. After a slow start, the Bucks heeded the new coach’s call to focus.

Coach Jay Triano addresses the media after tonight’s game. pic.twitter.com/ace0ahaXsn

Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 23, 2018

The sharpshooting Middleton couldn’t miss in the final minute.

Brogdon had a steal with 40 seconds left after the Bucks double-teamed guard Devin Booker in the backcourt. Brogdon lobbed a cross-court pass to Middleton, who hit a jumper from the left corner with 24 seconds left for a 105-100 lead.

Middleton also hit a fade-away jumper from nearly the exact same spot with defender Isaiah Canaan in his face with 54 seconds left for a three-point edge that roused the crowd at the Bradley Center.

“We’re professionals. It’s about regrouping and coming out there and doing your job,” Brogdon said.

T.J. Warren had 23 points for Phoenix, which has lost four of five. Troy Daniels added 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point territory.

Troy Daniels sets a @Suns record with a 3 off the bench in his 27th straight game. pic.twitter.com/CGalGofBA3

— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 23, 2018

“To me it felt like a playoff atmosphere game,” Daniels said. “They were physical, we were physical. We were right there trying to fight back.”

It was an emotional night for the Bucks following the surprise firing of Kidd. His three-plus season tenure included two playoff appearances but stretches of inconsistency on both ends of the floor. Other than a 33-win season in 2015-16, the Bucks hovered around .500 under Kidd as a young core of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Brogdon turned into top-flight players.

“He’s been a great teacher for me. Mostly, I was a spot-up shooter. He allowed me to post up and expanded my game to pick-and-rolls and driving,” Middleton said.

The Suns fell to 17-30, making them an ideal opponent for the Bucks to beat in their first game under Joe Prunty, the former assistant who will replace Kidd the rest of the season.

Prunty was fiery at times on the sideline and jawed with an official, a contrast from Kidd’s typically mild-mannered demeanor.

The “old guys” — Monroe and Dudley — out here making plays for the @Suns. pic.twitter.com/nJ07MqGTSr

— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 23, 2018

Middleton and Brogdon sparked the Bucks in the closing minutes by dominating in the backcourt.

Eric Bledsoe added 19 points for the Bucks against his former team. He was dealt to Milwaukee earlier this season in a trade that sent Greg Monroe to Phoenix.

Monroe finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.

The Bucks started slow, then used a 24-10 in the first quarter to get back in the game that was tied at 53 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Monroe played for the first time in three games, and his 30 minutes were his most since playing 34 on Jan. 3 against Denver. Coach Jay Triano said he wanted to give a break to Tyson Chandler, the 35-year old starting center averaging about 26 minutes over his previous nine games. “He has been going hard,” Triano said. “We’ll give (Monroe) a chance to come back home where he was and see how he plays.”

Jan. 22, 1968 was a big day in Arizona history. Happy 50th, @Suns. pic.twitter.com/nGbmA4G9lQ

— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 23, 2018

UP NEXT

Suns play at the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.

Lightning blank Blackhawks in Chicagoto get back to winning ways

Jan 22, 2018 5

CHICAGO (AP) — Andrei Vasilevskiy made 40 saves in his NHL-best seventh shutout, Chris Kunitz scored a short-handed goal in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Monday night.

Yanni Gourde also scored as Tampa Bay stopped a season-high three-game slide and leapfrogged idle Vegas for the best record in the NHL. The Lightning, who lost to Chicago in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, improved to 11-0-2 against the Blackhawks in their last 13 regular-season meetings.

Chicago controlled most of the second period, but one little lapse proved costly. With Tampa Bay defenseman Mikhail Sergachev serving a double minor for high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct, Jake Dotchin shot the puck wide of the net and Kunitz found it before anyone else, taking it off the backboard and banking it in off the right skate of goaltender Jeff Glass.

Kunitz’s sixth goal of the season was enough for Vasilevskiy, who got his 28th win of the season. Patrick Kane shot the puck off the right post during a power play in the first and Anthony Duclair was stopped by Vasilevskiy on a breakaway 6:41 into the third.

Gourde put the game away when he beat Glass with a slap shot low on the goaltender’s glove side with 1:34 left. It was Gourde’s 15th goal of the season.

Tampa Bay (32-12-3) improved to 1-1 on an eight-game trip overlapping the All-Star festivities at its home arena. It’s the longest road trip in the NHL this season.

Glass made 29 saves, but last-place Chicago (22-19-6) lost for the fourth time in five games. It was a much better performance than its previous two games, when Chicago was outscored 11-3 in losses to Detroit and the New York Islanders, but the Blackhawks are running out of time in the competitive Central Division.

NOTES: Blackhawks C Artem Anisimov was activated from injured reserve after missing 10 straight games with an upper-body injury. The 29-year-old Anisimov has 13 goals, including six game-winners, and five assists in 37 games this season. … Lightning C Alex Killorn played in his 400th NHL game.

UP NEXT

Lightning: Visit the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Blackhawks: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Short-handed Bucks top Suns 109-105 hours after firing Kidd

Jan 22, 2018 6

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton scored 35 points and hit two long jumpers in the final minute, Malcolm Brogdon added 32 points and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 109-105 on Monday night hours after firing coach Jason Kidd.

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Brogdon added a steal with 40 seconds left after the Bucks double-teamed guard Devin Booker in the backcourt. Brogdon lobbed a cross-court pass to Middleton, who hit a jumper from the left corner with 24 seconds left for a 105-100 lead.

Middleton also hit a fade-away jumper from nearly the exact same spot with defender Isaiah Canaan in his face with 54 seconds left for a three-point edge.

T.J. Warren had 23 points for Phoenix, which has lost four of five.

Kidd was fired hours before the game, ending a three-plus season tenure that included two playoff appearances but stretches of inconsistency on both ends of the floor. Other than a 33-win season in 2015-16, the Bucks hovered around .500 under Kidd as a young core of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Brogdon blossomed into top-flight players.

The Suns fell to 17-30, making them an ideal opponent for the Bucks to beat in their first game under Joe Prunty, the former assistant who will replace Kidd the rest of the season.

Prunty was fiery at times on the sideline and jawed with an official, a contrast from Kidd’s typically mild-mannered demeanor.

Middleton and Brogdon sparked the Bucks in the closing minutes by dominating in the backcourt.

Eric Bledsoe added 19 points for the Bucks against his former team. He was dealt to Milwaukee earlier this season in a trade that sent Greg Monroe to Phoenix.

Monroe finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Troy Daniels added 15 off the bench for Phoenix

The Bucks started slow, then used a 24-10 in the first quarter to get back in the game that was tied at 53 at halftime.

TIP INS

Suns: Monroe played for the first time in three games, and his 30 minutes were his most since playing 34 on Jan. 3 against Denver. Coach Jay Triano said he wanted to give a break to Tyson Chandler, the 35-year old starting center averaging about 26 minutes over his previous nine games. “He has been going hard,” Triano said. “We’ll give (Monroe) a chance to come back home where he was and see how he plays.”

Bucks: Antetokounmpo missed a second straight game with right knee soreness, sticking with a plan put in place by Kidd.

UP NEXT

Suns: At the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.

Bucks: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.

Short-handed Heat hang in Houston but finish road trip with loss to Rockets

Jan 22, 2018 6

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had 28 points and the Houston Rockets overcame a big early deficit to beat the Miami Heat 99-90 on Monday night.

Miami led by double digits before halftime, but the game stayed close throughout most of the second half. It was tied with about three minutes left when Harden hit a 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired. That was the start of a 7-2 run that made it 95-90 with 38 seconds left.

James Johnson missed a 3-pointer on the other end, but Miami’s Hassan Whiteside grabbed the rebound. Harden blocked his layup, and Houston added a dunk by Clint Capela with 18 seconds left.

Whiteside led the Heat with 22 points and 13 rebounds. The team was missing Goran Dragic for the second straight game because of a bruised left knee.

Houston was at full strength for the first time in a while with Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green back after serving two-game suspensions for an altercation with the Clippers. Ariza had three points and five rebounds in 29 minutes, but Green did not play.

Chris Paul added 16 points as Houston won its third straight, and Eric Gordon had 16, too, despite continuing to struggle from long range. Gordon ranks fourth in the NBA with 136 3-pointers this season, but has gone a combined 0 for 16 the last two games.

Houston led by 3 entering the fourth, and the teams exchanged leads several times in the first few minutes of the quarter.

The Rockets led by a basket after a 3-pointer by Paul with about eight minutes left before Miami scored the next four points to go up 83-81. Houston then used a 5-1 spurt, with a 3 from P.J. Tucker and a dunk from Capela, to make it 86-84 with about five minutes left.

After ending Golden State’s 14-game road winning streak with a victory in their last game, the Rockets looked sluggish early in this one and trailed by 14 during the first quarter. The Heat got a boost in the first quarter from Whiteside, who scored 14 points. The Rockets got going late in the first quarter and had cut the deficit to 50-46 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Heat: Jones had three blocks. … Josh Richardson finished with 12 points. … Miami made 7 of 30 3-pointers.

Rockets: Capela had 14 points with eight rebounds. … Paul had six assists and five rebounds.

UP NEXT

Heat: Host Sacramento on Thursday night.

Rockets: Visit Dallas on Wednesday night.

Vikings moving forward after crushing defeat in Philadelphia

Jan 22, 2018 4

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The lilt in Case Keenum’s voice was missing as he spoke about the end of the Minnesota Vikings’ season in a softer-than-usual tone.

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His eyes misted over, Keenum carefully maintained enough composure to keep his voice from cracking. There was no hiding the hurt from the shellacking in Philadelphia, though, that left the Vikings again one victory short of reaching the Super Bowl.

“You go to bed and don’t sleep, and you wake up early and don’t go back to sleep,” Keenum said on Monday in a largely empty locker room at team headquarters on the heels of the shocking 38-7 defeat by the Eagles . “That’s the what-if, could-have, should-have, would-have, but I did everything I could during the week. I prepared the best I’d been prepared. I just didn’t make the plays, and the ball didn’t bounce our way.”

Keenum committed three turnovers on Sunday night, after only nine giveaways in his previous 16 games. The Eagles turned those into 14 points on top of what the Vikings could have scored on the possession that ended with a sack-fumble deep in Eagles territory. The game was still within reach then, in the second quarter, but after halftime it was well out of hand.

“We believed that we were going to win that game, just like we believed every week prior to that that we could win the game that week,” running back Latavius Murray said. “We were capable of it. We believed in everybody in the locker room, and we had the guys to do it. We just didn’t play well, and they played really well.”

The defense that was the stingiest in the NFL this season was scorched by backup quarterback Nick Foles and a bunch of receivers who appeared to do whatever they wanted to up and down the field.

“I could’ve called a lot better game, obviously,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “Point the finger at me before you point it at the players.”

Becoming the first team in history to play in a Super Bowl on home turf was the dream scenario that didn’t materialize, but the Vikings were primarily stunned by how poorly they played on the next-biggest stage and disheartened by how, after 4 months of such strong performances, they were ultimately left without the chance to play for a championship like the 29 other teams eliminated before them.

Instead, after a sixth NFC championship game loss by the Vikings since their last Super Bowl appearance 41 years ago, the Eagles will take on the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4.

“I’ve never had so much fun coming to work in my life, never had so much fun playing football in my life, as this year. That’s not cliche. That’s the honest truth,” wide receiver Adam Thielen said. “So I think that makes it a little tougher, too, because you really don’t know what’s going to happen year to year, as far as a group changing and things like that, and that’s why you have to take advantage of those opportunities because you never know when you’ll be back.”

The offseason uncertainty starts at quarterback, where Keenum is the consensus favorite to return after a breakout performance that altered his career narrative following five years as a backup. His contract is scheduled to expire along with Sam Bradford’s and Teddy Bridgewater’s, though, leaving no guarantee for any of them.

“I have an inkling that all those guys are going to be starting quarterbacks in this league for someone, and they’re going to win a lot of games,” Thielen said, “because they’re that type of character guys, they’re that type of football players, they’re guys you want on your team, and they’re guys you want to play for.”

Bridgewater was inactive for the two playoff games, with Bradford the backup, a development that didn’t bode well for his future in Minnesota. Asked whether he sees himself as a starter in the league somewhere in 2018, Bridgewater replied, “Definitely, yeah. Without a question.”

Bradford was not in the locker room when it was open to reporters. Keenum, though unwilling yet to speculate about his pending free agency, made clear he would prefer to remain with the Vikings if it’s up to him.

“Just the attitude and the character and the culture they have around here is awesome,” Keenum said, “and not to mention Minnesota itself. The people here have been great. My biggest fear coming here was the snow, and I didn’t even shovel that. So it’s been a great year.”

Trio of Vikings named to NFL Pro Bowl roster

Jan 22, 2018 15

Vikings DT Linval Joseph, TE Kyle Rudolph and S Harrison Smith have been named to the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl.

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The trio will be replacing players who are unable to participate. Joseph replaces Fletcher Cox (Philadelphia Eagles), while Rudolph and Smith replace a pair of injured players in Jimmy Graham (Seattle Seahawks) andLandon Collins (New York Giants).

This will be the second Pro Bowl appearance for both Joseph and Rudolph. Rudolph won Pro Bowl MVP honors at the 2012 all-star game.

Smith has now been named to the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons.

Minnesota has had seven named to the Pro Bowl this season: LB Anthony Barr, DE Everson Griffen, DT Linval Joseph, CB Xavier Rhodes, TE Kyle Rudolph, S Harrison Smith and WR Adam Thielen.

The 2018 Pro Bowlwill take place on Sunday, January 27 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

A new hope: Jaguars see reasons for optimism after turnaround season ended with AFC title game loss

Jan 22, 2018 17

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars won’t shock anyone next season.

A day after a disappointing loss to New England in the AFC championship game, players packed up their belongings and headed into the offseason. They carried with them more hope than heartache.

The Jaguars were one of the NFL’s biggest surprises in 2017. They ended a six-year run with double-digit losses by winning the AFC South for the first time in franchise history.

They hosted a playoff game for the first time in 18 years, stunned Pittsburgh in the divisional round and had a 10-point lead on Tom Brady and the Patriots in the fourth quarter.

It was far from a fluke. With young and still-emerging talent on both sides of the ball, the Jaguars look poised to be a postseason participant for at least the next few years.

“Going forward, we know that this team is going to be a true contender and we’re going to go out there and earn it,” All-Pro defensive end Calais Campbell said Monday.

Campbell was quick to point out that meeting higher expectations will only happen if they take the same approach to next season.

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“You don’t get nowhere off of what you did last year,” he said. “It’s only what have you done for me lately. I’ve been a part of a team that went to the NFC championship and the next year we missed the playoffs. It happens quite a bit. This team is definitely, I feel like, we should be able to go out there and be a great team next year, but we’re going to have to put the work in.”

Before the next phase begins, the Jaguars will have to get over a stinging loss at New England.

They surely will be haunted by four plays that were as much a part of the outcome as Brady:

— The league’s best pass defense gave up a 21-yard gain on a third-and-18 play early in the fourth quarter. The Patriots went on to score a touchdown that cut the lead to 20-17.

— Linebacker Myles Jack stripped the ball from Dion Lewis at the end of a 20-yard gain in the third quarter. Jack picked up the fumble and started running the other way, but officials whistled the play dead. The Jaguars felt like it should have been a touchdown. Instead, the offense went three-and-out.

— With 55 seconds to play remaining in the first half and two timeouts, Jacksonville took a knee on consecutive plays instead of trying to make something happen.

“Let’s get ourselves going and let’s take this lead into halftime,” coach Doug Marrone said. “That is exactly how I thought, right or wrong.”

— Blake Bortles was flagged for delay of game — following a timeout, no less — and negated a 12-yard completion to Marcedes Lewis on a third-and-7 play in the second quarter. Instead of moving the chains and milking the clock, the Patriots got the ball back and scored a momentum-turning touchdown heading into the locker room.

“It was just a lapse on our part,” Marrone said.

All of those contributed to Jacksonville’s collapse.

By Monday, players and coaches had started to recover. Soon, they will turn the page.

“Getting there and showing the world that we can play good ball and be consistent against a good team like that and not fold under pressure was big,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “We answered a lot of critics now. People want to give us our respect; they don’t have to. We proved a lot to ourselves, and I think we’re going to continue to build from there.”

Here are some other things to know about Jacksonville heading into the offseason:

QB DECISION

The biggest question centers on Bortles and his future. Jacksonville picked up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract, meaning he has one year remaining at $19.053 million. Bortles showed progress in 2017 and played well at times in the playoffs, but the Jaguars could decide they want to try to lure a free agent with fewer flaws to complement a dominant defense.

“I would love to be able to play here for as long as they would let me,” Bortles said. “What they do and all the decisions that are made are kind of out of my control. I’d be thrilled to be able to stay here and play here, and hopefully that can happen.”

MOVING ON

Jacksonville is likely to part ways with receiver Allen Hurns ($7 million) and running back Chris Ivory ($6.97 million), and they could lose cornerback Aaron Colvin and linebacker Paul Posluszny to free agency.

NEW LOOK

The Jaguars are expected to unveil new uniforms in April, making the two-tone helmets a collector’s edition. The black-and-gold helmets were mostly mocked the last five years.

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