Jacksonville, FL – The Jaguars started on the wrong side of history and came out the other.
And just like that, the storybook season continued, with playoff performances for all ages.
Trevor Lawrence erased the worst half of his life with one of the best performances, leading the Jaguars somehow did it, and you still can’t believe it came back against the Chargers 31-30 on a cold Saturday At night, at TIAA Bank Field.
With the clock ticking, Riley Patterson’s 36-yard field goal sparked a rousing celebration, setting up a series of exclamation points for the comeback from a 27-0 deficit.
Yes, 27-0! The Jaguars had five turnovers and were dead in the water in the first half. They roared back and handed Doug Pederson one of the most stunning victories of his career.
“I mean, that’s everything. That’s what I told them at halftime, and it’s kind of like our season,” Pedersen said. “We let ourselves get in trouble sometimes, sometimes we try to get out of it. Just being resilient and fighting and the desire and the ability to keep playing because it’s so easy to go the other way, that’s why I’m so proud of these guys. Everything is up in the air and they go out and get the job done.”
Lawrence had four interceptions in the first half and returned with four touchdowns and a pivotal two-point conversion jumper with 5:30 left to get Jacksonville ready for a comeback that seemed unrealistic. The defense forced him to take a bet, and Lawrence engineered a classic break from his own No. 21, allowing Patterson to win the game for the Daggers.
It was the third-biggest comeback in postseason history and sent the Jaguars into next week’s division playoffs. Their opponents will be decided on Sunday, but are likely to be the top-seeded Chiefs or the second-seeded Bills barring a major upset.
“Typical us,” catcher Marvin Jones said. “We know how to throw a great party.”
Add receiver Christian Kirk: “I told them we’d never do it again.”
It’s inconceivable that the Jaguars couldn’t even smell a divisional round score when the game was in the first half.
Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first two quarters — half the total he threw in his first 17 games — and almost immediately silenced the 70,250 crowd. That start was historically bad, but Lawrence’s end managed to be a footnote.
Trailing 27-0 in the second quarter, Lawrence threw touchdown passes to Zay Jones, Christian Kirk and Marvin Jones in the second half before making it 30-28 at 5:30 30-28 to go. Lawrence felt the impossibility within reach, and after scoring he knocked the ball down the hardest way he’d ever done, and the crowd erupted.
After that, the Jaguars’ defense became very strong. Roy Robertson-Harris fired Justin Herbert for an eight-point loss. And Foye Oluokun stopped Joshua Kelly on the third down, forcing him to bet. Lawrence pulled the ball back with 3:09 left on his own 21.
“I mean, the odds, I tell the boys, I don’t like my odds, but I like my chances,” Oluokun said. “As long as there’s even a chance of winning, we’re going to keep fighting. We’ve seen the tide start to turn, we’ve got momentum, we’ve kept that momentum going, we’ve been throwing the ball back to the offense and they’ve started rolling.”
On the field, Lawrence moved the Jaguars, hitting Kirk, Marvin Jones and Zay Jones on four passes, though Kirk’s third and first targets missed. This sets the stage for the game. Pedersen, who finished fourth and first in the Lightning 41, was too much for Patterson, who visited Travis Etienne.
Instead of attacking in the middle, Etienne broke through on the right and had an open field to use. He was tackled after scoring 20 points, which got Patterson ready for a shot, and he made it.
According to the Boston Globe, Lawrence’s three interceptions in the first quarter marked the first time in NFL playoff history that a quarterback had three interceptions in the first quarter.
His four interceptions in the first half were a dubious feat accomplished only once in postseason history, in Denver’s Craig Morton against the Cowboys in the 1978 Super Bowl. Lawrence went 28-for-47 for 288 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
“For myself, obviously yes, definitely the worst half of my football career and the worst half of a lot of people’s football careers,” Lawrence said. “Some type of history might be in that statistic.”
After that disastrous start, he found his rhythm, driving Jacksonville within 30-20 with a 39-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
Lawrence played his worst game at any level of football with an interception on the second play of the game, another interception on Jacksonville’s next drive, and another interception late in the opening quarter. . Those gave the Chargers 17 points and an almost insurmountable lead.
“I played with Brett Favre, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and sometimes he had a bad first half but came back in the second half and lit up the game,” Pedersen said.
“That’s what I love about Trevor, his manner, his aggressiveness and his ability to forget and move on. But he’ll be the first to tell you it’s not about him, it’s about the people around him people. [They] Plays, protects well and catchers do a good job where they need to be. But from a personal standpoint, it’s really a great performance from our quarterback. “
Lawrence shook off his fear before halftime, throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Evan Engram. He added in the third quarter that a 39-yard strike from Jones and a 6-yard pass from Marvin Jones cut it to 30-20.
This starts the thought process. Maybe, just maybe?
“Hopefully next week we can play a little bit better. Defensively, hopefully they can play like they did tonight. They’re doing a good job. But offensively, you can’t turn over a lot and expect to win. We found a way tonight , but that might not be a great way forward,” Lawrence said. “So, personally, I know you shouldn’t win games with that type of second half. If you play better in the first half and control the ball.”
The opening moments drained the stadium’s electricity. After Jacksonville’s first two drives and a punt afterward, Lawrence was picked third in the first quarter, second by Asante Samuel and Austin Eckler for a 6-yard touchdown . Lawrence had completed four passes to teammates and three to the Chargers as the opening ended trailing 17-0.
No one expected the Jaguars to be in this position. Cleaning up Urban Meyer’s mess and years of previous struggles, Jacksonville’s turnaround in 2022 will be ambitious.
But the Jaguars got off to a 2-6 start and won their final five games of the season to capture the unexpected AFC South title.
That’s family money. The Jaguars are still spending money.
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