EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Just like last season, the Jacksonville defense is carrying the team.
Linebacker Myles Jack scored on a 32-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter and the Jaguars spoiled the New York Giants debuts of coach Pat Shurmur and second-overall draft pick Saquon Barkley, and the return of Odell Beckham Jr. with a 20-15 win on Sunday.
Blake Bortles threw a short touchdown pass and led two other first-half field goal drives. The Jaguars dominated with the exception a Barkley-induced hiccup in opening a season by living up to the Super Bowl hype.
Held in check much of the game, Barkley brought the sellout crowd to its feet shortly after the Jack touchdown with a spectacular 65-yard run aided by a great block by receiver Sterling Shepard. It got New York within 20-15 with 10:39 to play.
New York went for the 2-point conversion and Barkley (18-rushes for 106 yards) was stopped.
It proved costly when passes of 19 and 21 yards to Beckham (11 catches for 111 yards in his first game since -October) got New York to the Jacksonville 34. Instead of attempting what could have been a tying fourth field goal from Aldrick Rosas, Eli Manning (23 of 37 for 224 yards) threw a fourth-down incompletion.
A muffed punt cost the Giants a final possession in the last minute.
The Jaguars led 13-6 at the half as Bortles methodically took his team on three scoring scores. Josh Lambo capped the first two with 39-yard field goals, and Bortles hit backup running back T.J. Yeldin from 1 yard for a 13-3 lead.
Beckham, who broke an ankle on Oct. 8 and did not play in a preseason game, drew two pass interference penalties on the ensuing drive. Rosas closed the gap to a touchdown with a 31-yard field goal with :04 left in the half. He added a 44-yarder on the opening series of the third quarter on a drive helped by a ugly facemask penalty by Yannick Ngakoue against Barkley.
Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey and LB Telvin Smith Sr. stood for the anthem. They stayed in the lock room in the preseason. Both teams stood.
Jaguars: Leading rusher Leonard Fournette left in second quarter with a hamstring problem. He finished with 41 yards.
Giants: Backup RB Wayne Gallman left in the second half with a knee injury.
Jaguars: Home opener next Sunday against New England, the team which beat them in AFC title game.
Giants: Visit Dallas for Sunday night game.