- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If the Jaguars scored on their final possession at the end of regulation to slice the Patriots' lead to 23-22, they were going for the 2-point conversion.
"We were going for the win, absolutely," Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. "They knew before the drive started."
The Jaguars ultimately advanced to the Patriots' 12-yard line with eight seconds remaining, but couldn't punch it home as the Patriots (11-4) escaped with a closer-than-expected victory over the 2-13 Jaguars.
"They were playing for a bye," Mularkey said. "We were playing for respect."
That respect was earned, with Patriots players crediting the Jaguars' initial plan of empty formations with wide splits on the line to open opportunities with the inside running game. It took the Patriots some time to adjust to that attack, which players said the Jaguars hadn't shown much this year.
While the Patriots' defense ultimately settled down after a rocky first quarter, the Jaguars also hurt themselves with miscues at critical points in the game. No miscue was more costly than tight end Zach Potter's false start penalty on the Patriots' 1 yard-line with 4:06 remaining.
The Jaguars were on the cusp of a tying touchdown, but Potter jumped as the New England line shifted in unison. That pushed the Jaguars back 5 yards and the Patriots' defense stopped them on third and fourth down.
Mularkey said the Patriots' shifting was something he brought up to referee Jeff Triplette before the game, and how New England does it with the intent of luring the offense into a false-start penalty. The shift itself is legal, but Mularkey said that when a defense blurts out a cadence, that should be a penalty.
"We practiced it the whole week, those guys shifting with the cadence," Mularkey relayed. "They were informed it was coming. Obviously they didn't call it and we jumped. Very frustrating."
Added quarterback Chad Henne, "Their defensive line does some different shifts and calls out some cadences, but we practiced that all week and we've just got to be focused on each and every play knowing they were going to do that."