JACKSONVILLE, Fla. >> Bradley Roby returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown, helping the Denver Broncos beat the mistake-prone Jacksonville Jaguars 20-10 on Sunday and gain ground in the AFC playoff picture.
Roby picked off Blake Bortles’ wobbler across the middle in the third quarter and went untouched the other way. Star linebacker Von Miller hit Bortles as he released the ball.
It was the 11th pick-6 of Bortles’ three-year career and his third in the last four games. Houston and Detroit also returned interceptions for touchdowns in games the Jaguars lost by less than seven points.
The latest one resulted in a seventh consecutive loss for Jacksonville (2-10) and secured another miserable milestone for the small-market franchise. The Jaguars became the fifth team in NFL history to post double-digit losses in six consecutive seasons, joining Tampa Bay (1983-94), Detroit (2001-06), Oakland (2003-09) and Cleveland (2008-13).
Jacksonville had a chance to tie in the final minutes, but Bortles fumbled trying to make a play in the pocket.
The Broncos (8-4) rebounded from an overtime loss against Kansas City, and with Miami’s loss at Baltimore, moved into position to get one of the conference’s wild-card spots.
They did it without quarterback Trevor Siemian , who missed the game with a sprained left foot. Rookie Paxton Lynch made his second career start and first on the road. Denver didn’t ask him to do too much. He didn’t need to, either, not against the self-destructing Jaguars.
The Broncos scored all 20 points with help from Jacksonville.
Aside from the pick-6, the Jaguars committed two 15-yard penalties that led to a touchdown and a field goal. Linebacker Telvin Smith was flagged for roughing the passes on third-and-5 in the second quarter. Lynch’s pass was incomplete, but Smith grazed his facemask. Devontae Booker scored six plays later, breaking Smith’s tackle near the line of scrimmage and carrying safety Johnathan Cyprien across the goal line.
Reserve tight end Alex Ellis was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a punt return in the final minute of the half. His 15-yarder set up Brandon McManus’ 32-yard field goal and put the Broncos ahead 10-3.
And Denver’s final field goal in the waning seconds came after Bortles’ fumble.
But Roby’s interception was the dagger. It was huge for Roby, who gave up a late touchdown to New Orleans two weeks ago and surrendered an 11-yard catch on fourth-and-10 last week against the Chiefs.
SPECIAL TEAMS WOES
The Jaguars continued their streak of special teams gaffes. Ellis’ unnecessary roughness foul gave Jacksonville a major meltdown on special teams for the seventh consecutive week. The streak includes five muffed punts — including three turnovers — a punt return for a touchdown and two long punt returns that set up scores.
Harris’ interception was his second of the year, giving him five consecutive seasons with multiple picks. He’s the fifth cornerback in the NFL to accomplish the feat, joining teammate Aqib Talib, Arizona’s Patrick Peterson, New York Giants’ Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Seattle’s Richard Sherman.
Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson continues to help his opponents. Robinson dropped his sixth pass of the season and his third that resulted in an interception.
Robinson bobbled a deep pass from Bortles down the left sideline, and it landed Harris Jr.’s hands for Bortles’ 14th interception of the season. Robinson, a Pro Bowler last season, also bobbled passes that ended up as picks against Chicago and Oakland earlier this season.
Broncos: at Tennessee on Sunday.
Jaguars: Host Minnesota on Sunday.