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View from the O-Zone: Shock, awe – and a very big day

Posted Oct 8, 2017

Oehser: How big was the Jaguars’ 30-9 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday? Maybe the Jaguars’ biggest victory in nearly a decade

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Maybe there’s something to this odd-week thing after all.

Or maybe the Jaguars just have a tendency to turn in performances that shock and awe – and make history – every other week.

Whatever the explanation, here’s what happened on one of the Jaguars’ most memorable Sundays in recent memory:

Jaguars 30, Steelers 9.

Yes, that happened. And because it did, the Jaguars went a long way toward putting a disappointing loss to the New York Jets a week before behind them – and an even longer way toward making it really believable that good things could lie ahead.

Not that Doug Marrone was talking about the past or future Sunday.

No, the Jaguars’ head coach focused on the present – and for the present Marrone, liked a great deal about what happened in front of 66,327 at Heinz Field.

“Is it a good win? Absolutely,” Marrone said after the Jaguars’ five-interception, two-defensive-touchdown performance that had a lot of the aforementioned 66,327 leaving midway through the fourth quarter.

“People are going to want to label the win … I’ve been through this. At the end of the year, we’ll look at it and see where it’s at. For me right now, I’m going to try to enjoy it – I’ve always done a poor job of enjoying a win – but I hope the players enjoy it. They deserve it.”

Now, make no mistake:

While Marrone’s quote may not drip enthusiasm, this was far from your everyday, ordinary victory. No, this was a victory with really cool attributes – perhaps even some historical ones.

It came against a team that won three of its first four games.

It came against a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.

It came against a team that entered Sunday feeling it was beginning to move in the right direction after a tricky start.

It came in one of the NFL’s toughest venues.

When you take in all the factors – including the Jaguars’ aspirations this season and the lingering memory of a disappointing loss to the New York Jets last week – a strong argument can be made that Sunday was the Jaguars’ victory since … since …

Was it 2010? The Hail Mary Game. Or Scobee’s 59-yarder?

Was it 2007? The victory over these same Steelers in this same venue in the Jaguars’ last postseason game?

For perspective, we asked tight end Marcedes Lewis.

Lewis is the only player capable of answering the question because he’s the only current Jaguars player who was around in 2010 or 2007. Biggest victories in 10 years?

“It’s the biggest win we’ve had, especially on the road, since ‘07,” said Lewis, a first-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft and by five seasons the Jaguars’ most-tenured player. “The way we did it was really good. What the defense did – you can’t draw it up better. Everybody comes in with a game plan, but then to follow it and play even better than what we can draw up … it’s amazing.”

Across the locker room, safety Tashaun Gipson was asked if this game made the Jaguars contenders for the long haul.

“I think it’s foolish not to take this team seriously,” Gipson said. “Year in, year out teams change. I can’t speak for what will happen in five years, but if people don’t take the Jaguars seriously, especially in this AFC South, it’s very foolish. We have the guys to do what it takes.”

The details of this one are worth noting. Five interceptions, including two that linebacker Telvin Smith and safety Barry Church turned into third-quarter touchdowns. Leonard Fournette rushing for 181 yards and two memorable touchdowns – one by land and one very much by air.

Worth noting, too: the Jaguars faced adversity. They trailed 9-7 early in the third. It felt as if momentum was slipping away. Then came Smith’s Pick Six. Then came Church’s.

And then came a dominant 12-play, all-run drive that ended with a 47-yard field goal by Jason Myers.

Yes, the second half had a lot to like – and through five games there’s a lot to like about this season and this team. The question remains: when will the Jaguars find consistency? Can a team that has looked so good in Weeks 1 (Houston), 3 (Baltimore) and 5 (Pittsburgh, glorious Pittsburgh) at last gain some traction in an even-numbered week?

That indeed is a pertinent question, but it’s a question for later. Sunday at Heinz Field wasn’t about that question, because Sunday at Heinz Field was about something more fun for this team, and something far more important for this team.

Sunday was about the Jaguars getting it done their way, in a big way – and maybe in a season-turning, season-defining way. Yes, that happened Sunday – and because it did the Jaguars turned in their biggest, most memorable Sunday in a very long time.

And because it did, it’s getting really believable that good things lie ahead.

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