NFL

Pederson hails 'leader' Engram as Jaguars jolt Jets on soggy New York night

By Sports Desk December 23, 2022

Evan Engram and the Jacksonville Jaguars were urged to enjoy their Christmas by coach Doug Pederson after beating the New York Jets 19-3 to clinch a third straight win.

Tight end Engram was the top offensive weapon for the Jaguars on a wet night, tallying 113 receiving yards from seven catches to continue his terrific form, having entered the contest with 19 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns from his previous two outings.

With the win, the Jaguars are 7-8 with two games remaining, which is the exact same record as the Jets following their fourth consecutive loss.

Engram praised the team's coaches for making "great calls" in the difficult weather conditions as rain came down in a deluge.

After an early field goal from the home team, the Jaguars took charge, with Jets quarterback Zach Wilson having a night to forget, completing just nine of 18 passes and being booed before being replaced.

Coach Pederson said of the Jacksonville display: "It's a mark of a team that's beginning to play good football, meaningful football, at the end of the season. We've talked a lot about having meaningful games down the stretch. These guys are battling through a lot, they're battling through their own injuries. It's a sign of our team coming together at the right time."

He described the weather as "a challenge", adding: "It was going to be one of those days, it was going to be physical, it was going to be tough, we were going to have to run the football because throwing it was going to be hard. We were efficient in the passing game; we made some plays. I'm proud of the guys."

Looking at Engram's efforts, Pederson said: "He's gotten better with the offense, learning the details that we teach. He's very unselfish, he works extremely hard in practice, he wants to be good, he loves being coached, and it shows on the field, he's a really good team-mate to have and a leader of the team."

The Houston Texans are next for the Jaguars on New Year's Day, and Pederson urged his players to come back with purpose after their short break.

"The message is we haven't done anything, we haven't clinched anything, we haven't won anything," Pederson said. "We've still got two division games left. I do want them to enjoy the holidays, enjoy Christmas with their family and friends, and it's time to heal and get healthy for this final two-game stretch.

"But I also want them to come back in the right frame of mind and get ready for a team that beat us a couple of months ago."

Engram said he had assessed the conditions and "made a choice to play hard".

"The coaches made great calls and we managed the weather really well, took care of the football and I just made plays when my number was called," Engram said on the Jaguars' post-game show.

Looking at the skill involved in catching a wet football, Engram said: "It's just mechanics. I work on those every single day. Catching tennis balls to make sure my hand placement's right. Doing all sort of distraction drills to not let elements get in the way of making plays with the football.

"With the rain, you've got to shoot your hands together. Shoot your hands together and we'll be all right, and I had success."

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