AP Sports

Lawrence, Ridley and defense help Jaguars beat Falcons 23-7 in London

LONDON (AP) — Calvin Ridley is making the most of his second chance, in more ways than one.

The wide receiver held on to a touchdown pass — after a couple of key drops last week — to help the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Atlanta Falcons 23-7 on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

Besides defeating his old team, Ridley is also catching up on lost time. He was suspended for the entire 2022 season for violations of the league’s gambling policy.

“I’m so proud of Calvin, what’s he’s been through in his life. He’s put a lot of things behind him. He’s focused on the future,” Jags coach Doug Pederson said. “Obviously his testimony, it’s one that can be spread to a lot of professional and younger-generation athletes. He’s doing things right. We love having him on the football team.”

Ridley says he’s loving it, too.

“Got in the end zone, got my team a touchdown, to put points on the board, it felt good,” he said.

Josh Allen had three sacks and Darious Williams returned an interception for a 61-yard score to help the Jags (2-2) halt a two-game skid with a series of big plays as the team celebrated playing for the 10th time in London. They held on as the Falcons tried to rally in the second half.

Trevor Lawrence side-stepped a blitzing Richie Grant and lofted a deep ball to a wide-open Ridley for a 30-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Williams stepped in front of wide receiver Drake London, intercepted Desmond Ridder’s pass and outran the second-year QB into the end zone to make the score 17-0 in the second quarter. It was the first pick-6 in London since 2016.

The Falcons (2-2) have dropped two in a row and Ridder, making his eighth NFL start, showed some inexperience with interceptions on back-to-back throws in the first half.

“I did a terrible job of taking care of the ball,” Ridder said. “We’ve got to find a way to start faster, whatever that may be, however it is, that’s just what we’ve got to do, and I’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the ball.”

After the pick-6, Andre Cisco intercepted Ridder’s next pass — intended for Kyle Pitts on a crossing route — and returned it to the Atlanta 20. Cisco fumbled but teammate Foyesade Oluokun recovered it at the 16.

Pederson opted against a chip-shot field goal for a 20-point lead and Lawrence was sacked on fourth-and-1 from the 7 by David Onyemata.

Lawrence finished 23 of 30 for 207 yards and the TD pass.

“There’s a ton more out there for us offensively, a couple of plays that I missed that I’m kind of kicking myself over,” said Lawrence, who improved to 2-1 in London.

Christian Kirk led the Jags with eight receptions for 84 yards. Ridley, drafted 26th overall in 2018 by the Falcons, had two receptions for 38 yards.

Atlanta came out energized in the second half and Ridder finished a 75-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to London to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 17-7.

London only got one foot down at the back of the end zone on a fourth-and-3 from the 6 with just over six minutes remaining and the score 20-7.

Bijan Robinson rushed for 105 yards on 14 carries for the Falcons.

Brandon McManus kicked three field goals, including a 56-yarder for the Jags.

Ridder finished 19 of 31 for 192 yards, the TD pass and two interceptions.

EARLY BIRDS GROUNDED

The Falcons didn’t get a first down until early in the second quarter when Jonnu Smith caught a 15-yard pass to their 44. Atlanta only got across the 50-yard line with 5:55 left in the half when Robinson took an 8-yard carry to the Jacksonville 47. Two plays later, Williams had his pick-6.

Allen increased his sack total to six this season — a week after the Jags had none against the Texans in a 37-17 drubbing.

“I’m ready to win games,” he said. “I want to be the guy for the defense that we can count on. (Last week) I felt like I personally let the team down. This week was just get back on track.”

STREAKY

The Jags snapped a three-game losing streak at Wembley, where they hadn’t won since beating the Baltimore Ravens 44-7 in 2017. Two years ago, Jacksonville ended a 20-game skid with a 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

INJURIES

Falcons: Defensive back Dee Alford was evaluated for a concussion.

Jaguars: Return specialist Jamal Agnew (thigh) was inactive after being listed as questionable. His backup, Parker Washington, was slow to get up after fielding his first punt in the first quarter. He didn’t return.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host the Houston Texans on Sunday in the first of back-to-back home games.

Jaguars: Stay in London but switching to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for an “away” game against the Buffalo Bills.

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