Trevor Lawrence and Jaguars stun Chargers in playoffs

Trevor Lawrence and Jaguars stun Chargers in playoffs

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – The Jaguars started on the wrong side of history and came out on the other.

Just like that, storybook season continues with a playoff performance for the ages.

Trevor Lawrence erased the worst half of the football of his life with one of the best, leading the Jaguars to a comeback of sorts, they did it and you still can’t believe it happened 31-30 on the Chargers on a chilly Saturday night at TIAA Bank Field.

Riley Patterson’s 36-yard field as time ticked away sparked an electric celebration that put a series of exclamation points on a 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 responded with a roar and delivered Doug Pederson one of the greatest wins of his career.

“I mean, that’s it. That’s exactly what I told them at halftime, it’s kind of like our season,” Pederson said. “We sometimes got into a hole, and sometimes we got out of it. Just having the resilience and the fight and the desire and the ability to keep playing because it could have easily gone the other way, and that’s why I’m so proud of these guys. It’s all on the line, and they go out and do the work.

Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first half and countered that with four touchdowns and a two-point conversion jump after that with 5 minutes and 30 seconds left to put Jacksonville in position for a comeback that didn’t seem realistic. The defense forced a punt and Lawrence devised a classic drive from his own 21 to set up Patterson at the dagger to win it.

It was the third-biggest comeback in playoff history and sends the Jaguars to the divisional playoffs next week. Their opponent will be finalized on Sunday but will likely be either the top-seeded Chiefs or the No. 2 Bills, barring any major upsets.

“That’s typical of us,” wide receiver Marvin Jones said. “We know how to throw a good party.”

Receiver Christian Kirk added: “I told them we would never do that again.”

For the Jaguars to even sniff out the divisional round was unthinkable when the game was in the first half.

Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first two quarters — half of what he threw in the previous 17 games combined — that silenced the crowd of 70,250 almost immediately. That start was historically bad, but Lawrence’s arrival managed to make it a footnote.

From a 27-0 second quarter deficit, Lawrence threw second-half touchdown passes to Zay Jones, Christian Kirk and Marvin Jones, then added a two-point conversion jump on the pile for the bring to 30-28 with 5:30 to go. Lawrence, feeling the impossible was within reach, rammed the ball in as hard as he’s ever done after a scoring play and the crowd went ballistic.

The Jaguars defense was huge after that. Roy Robertson-Harris sacked Justin Herbert for an 8 loss. And Foye Oluokun stopped Joshua Kelly short on third down to force a punt. Lawrence recovered it with 3:09 to go at his own 21.

“I mean the odds, I told the boys, I don’t like my odds but I like my odds,” Oluokun said. “As long as there is a small chance of winning, we will keep fighting. We saw the tables start to turn, we got some momentum, we kept that, we keep throwing the ball back on offense and they started rolling.

On the field, Lawrence moved the Jaguars, hitting Kirk, Marvin Jones and Zay Jones with four assists, although a third and a goal for Kirk was off. This set up a game for the match. Fourth-and-1 at the Chargers 41 and too far for Patterson, Pederson brought in Travis Etienne.

Instead of going up the middle, Etienne broke down the right side and had an open field to work with. He was tackled after a 20 gain and that set up Patterson for a doable shot which he nailed.

Ball game.

Lawrence’s three interceptions in the first quarter marked the first time in NFL playoff history that a quarterback was picked three times in the first quarter, according to the Boston Globe.

His four first-half interceptions is a dubious feat achieved only once in playoff history, in the 1978 Super Bowl by Denver’s Craig Morton against the Cowboys. Lawrence finished 28 of 47 for 288 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

“For me, obviously yes, definitely the worst half of my life as a footballer, of a lot of people’s lives too,” Lawrence said. “Some type of history probably in that stat.”

He found a rhythm after that disastrous start, putting Jacksonville within 30-20 on a 39-yard touchdown against Zay Jones late in the third quarter.

Lawrence had the worst game he had at any level of football, throwing an interception in the second play of the game, another in Jacksonville’s next practice, and another late in the first quarter. Those led to a quick 17 points for the Chargers and a lead that was almost too steep to overcome.

“I played with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Brett Favre and there were times when he didn’t have a good first half and came back in the second half and could enlighten it,” Pederson said.

“That’s what I love about Trevor and his demeanor, his aggression and his ability to forget and move on. But he’ll be the first to tell you it’s not about him, but also guys around him. [They] made plays, protection was good, receivers were doing a good job of being where they needed to be. But from an individual point of view, it’s really a great performance from our quarterback. »

Lawrence came out of his funk before halftime, throwing a 9-yard touchdown to Evan Engram. He added that 39-yard strike to Jones and a 6-yard pass to Marvin Jones in the third quarter that cut the deficit to 30-20.

This started the thought process. Maybe, just maybe?

“I hope we will play a little better next week. The defence, I hope they play like they did tonight. They did a great job. But offensively, you can’t return the ball that many times and expect to win. We found a way tonight, but it’s probably not a good formula going forward,” Lawrence said. “So I know for me personally, it shouldn’t take that type of second half to win the game. If you played better in the first half and took care of the ball.

The start drained the stadium’s electricity in the blink of an eye. After picks on Jacksonville’s first two drives and a punt afterwards, Lawrence was picked for the third time in the first quarter, and the second by Asante Samuel, who set up a 6-yard touchdown by Austin Ekeler. By the time the opening quarter ended in a 17-0 deficit, Lawrence had completed four passes to teammates and three to the Chargers.

No one expected the Jaguars to be in this position. Cleaning up the mess of Urban Meyer and years of struggles before that, it would have been ambitious for Jacksonville to turn the corner in 2022.

But the Jaguars escaped a 2-6 start and won their final five games of the season to snatch an unexpected AFC South title.

It’s house money. And the Jaguars are still spending it.

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