Jacksonville, Fla. – It was an unseasonably 36 degrees in Florida, but the chill posed no threat to the Jacksonville Jaguars as they overcame a 27-point Charger lead to win the game by a 36-yard field goal, as the game clock expired, 31-30. NFL Research says this game is the third largest comeback in NFL playoff history, the largest comeback win in Jaguar’s history, and the biggest blown lead in Chargers history. The Chargers left the field stunned, hearing chants of “Duuuval,” a phrase that is the rallying cry for the team and fans alike referencing the name of their county seat.
Many Jaguars fans departed TIAA Bank Field at halftime, anticipating a decisive Charger win. Everyone thought the Chargers had it in the bag, including the team. It was a game that saw the Chargers take advantage of five Jaguars turnovers in the first half, including four Trevor Lawrence interceptions: three picks at the hands of star Charger cornerback Asante Samuel, Jr.,
Samuel, a baller extraordinaire, finished the game with three unassisted tackles, and he disrupted six passes from Lawrence. He certainly deserved to win this game. Per NFL Research, Asante Samuel Jr. becomes the third father-son duo (Asante Samuel Sr.) to have a post-season interception in NFL history. They join Devin Bush/Devin Bush Jr., Antoine Winfield, and Antoine Winfield Jr.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler finished the game converting two of those Chargers takeaways into touchdowns with a total of 35 rushing yards and receiver Gerald Everett with six receptions for a total of 109 passing yards. Chargers QB Justin Herbert completed 25 passes for 273 yards and one touchdown.
The Charger’s offense was also without the much-needed talents of Mike Williams, who sustained a back injury in week 18 play against the Denver Broncos. Former QB Chris Simms said it best, “After going up 27-0, the Chargers called 25 pass plays and just eight run plays.”
“I’m hurting for everybody in that locker room,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said. “It’s a special group of guys. This is the toughest way to lose, in the playoffs.”
A brutal way to lose, indeed, as the Chargers had only four offensive drives in the second half, and they aided Jaguar’s comeback by committing costly penalties. OLB Joey Bosa committed three game-changing fouls, two for unsportsmanlike conduct. On Jacksonville’s first offensive drive of the second half, Bosa was offsides, eliminating a third-down sack. The Jaguars scored a touchdown. After another Jag touchdown, Bosa took off his helmet and slammed it into the ground for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, allowing Trevor Lawrence to score on a two-point conversion.
“I don’t even have any words for it right now,” safety Derwin James Jr. said. “I’ve been playing football for 21 years, and I ain’t never felt like this.”
The Jaguar’s comeback described succinctly – they outscored the Chargers 24-3 in second-half play, QB Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdown passes, running back Travis Etienne broke free for a 25-yard run late in the fourth quarter, and kicker Riley Patterson nailed a 36-yard game-winning field goal
And here is a tidbit I learned during the game – Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence has never lost a Saturday game, never…not in high school, on the collegiate or professional levels, and now he can add this game to his numbers; Lawrence is 37-0 when it comes to winning Saturday games. The Jacksonville Jaguars are headed to their first divisional-round playoff appearance in four years, and I’m sure they are hoping for a Saturday game.