ATLANTA (AP)Devonta Freeman scored two touchdowns for the Atlanta Falcons before Jacksonville took a snap, and that was enough to beat the woeful Jaguars 24-12 Sunday in a match-up between teams long since eliminated from the NFL playoff race.
Matt Ryan threw for 384 yards and Julio Jones had his biggest game of the year, hauling in 10 catches for 166 yards.
Before thousands of empty seats at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons (6-9) won their third straight game while holding the Jaguars (5-10) to 288 yards in Atlanta’s final home game of a disappointing season.
The Falcons piled up 518 yards.
Jacksonville came out flat in its first game since the firing of top executive Tom Coughlin, who was let go on Wednesday after several questionable roster moves and a scathing critique from the players’ union over his draconian disciplinary methods.
The Jaguars have lost six of their last seven games and 20 of 27 since a 3-1 start to the 2018 season, which came on the heels of a surprising run to the AFC championship game.
The Falcons took the opening kickoff and drove 82 yards in six plays, capped by Freeman’s 17-yard touchdown run. He took a quick flip from Ryan and scampered to the end zone without being touched.
On the ensuing kickoff, Michael Walker was stripped of the ball by Keith Smith. Brian Hill fell on the fumble at the Jaguars 25, sending Atlanta’s offense back on the field with barely enough time to catch its breath.
Four plays later, Ryan hooked up with Freeman out of the backfield on an 8-yard scoring pass.
Just 5 1/2 minutes into the game, the Falcons were up 14-0.
Even with Ryan being picked off twice, Jacksonville couldn’t muster much of an offensive threat behind Garnder Minshew, who was 13 of 31 for 181 yards.
Quadree Ollison tacked on a 3-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to stretch Atlanta’s lead to 24-6.
The Jaguars finally reached the end zone on Minshew’s 42-yard TD to Chris Conley with 12 minutes remaining. But their last hurrah ended on Minshew’s incomplete pass in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the Atlanta 7.
Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 12,000 career yards.
It also was his 55th 100-yard receiving game, leaving him just two behind Marvin Harrison on the career list.
Meanwhile, Ryan reached 4,000 yards passing for the ninth straight season.
Drew Brees is the only player with a longer streak, passing for 4,000 yards in 12 straight seasons from 2006-17.
Falcons safety Ricardo Allen was shaken up late in the game, but no serious injuries were reported..
Jaguars: Close the season at home against the AFC South rival Colts (7-8), looking to avenge a 33-13 loss at Indianapolis in the teams’ first meeting.
Falcons: Travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers (7-8), who romped to a 35-22 victory when the NFC South teams met in Week 12.
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