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View from the O-Zone: Weird, wacky – and oh-so cool

Posted Nov 12, 2017

Oehser: Why didn’t aesthetics matter for the Jaguars in a 20-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at EverBank Field Sunday? Because the 2017 Jaguars season is starting to get good

JACKSONVILLE – This is getting good, and isn’t that cool?

When we say “good,” we’re not talking about the aesthetics of a 20-17 Jaguars overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers – because aesthetically speaking, there wasn’t all that much good, pretty or pleasing about what happened at EverBank Field Sunday.

But what do aesthetics matter?

They don’t, and what mattered to the suddenly surging 2017 Jaguars Sunday was they somehow, some way found a way to win a weird, wild, wacky, emotional, back-and-forth game.

They found a way to win …

Again. And isn’t that cool?

“Regardless of how we win, this team is special,” Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin said moments after the Jaguars’ first victory over the Chargers and Philip Rivers in what seemed like forever and was in fact a decade.

Head Coach Doug Marrone – hardly a man given to public displays of post-game giddiness – didn’t get giddy Sunday, either.

“We grinded one out,” Marrone said.

And you know what? That’s just what the Jaguars did.

They somehow, someway found a way to win a game that for much of the second and third quarters felt lost. They found a way to win despite trailing by eight and then three points in the second half. They found a way to beat a dastardly Rivers who never stopped smirking in their general direction.  They found a way to win despite two fourth-quarter interceptions by quarterback Blake Bortles. They found a way to win despite being without their long snapper for much of the second half, which meant fullback Tommy Bohanon snapping on punts and center Tyler Shatley snapping on field goals.

Indeed, this on some levels was not a game the Jaguars “should” have won.

But “should” didn’t matter Sunday.

“That’s pretty cool,” Bortles said. “If any of those things happen – if half of those things happen two years ago – we fold and it’s over. To have the type of guys that we have in the locker room that we have now, the leadership, the guys to be able to overcome adversity, overcome mistakes, overcome turnovers, penalties and do all that and still win a football game, is pretty impressive.”

Quickly, a look at Sunday’s major storylines.

*The Jaguars improved to 6-3, and they remained tied with Tennessee for first place in the AFC South.

*They won their third consecutive game, their second consecutive game at Everbank Field.

*They beat Rivers – the Chargers’ 14-year veteran quarterback – and snapped Rivers’ six-game winning streak against the Jaguars. And no one in recent seasons had had so maddening a mastery over the Jaguars than the Chargers’ future Hall of Famer.

Those storylines were enough to make Sunday special and memorable, and if Sunday’s game had been a normal game – if it had been yet another one-sided victory in the style of their first five victories – it still would have been important.

As it was, Sunday was more than that.

It was more than that because the Jaguars needed to reach down deep Sunday in a way they hadn’t had to reach in five victories – and to a place they hadn’t been able to reach in three losses. This team was 5-3 at the season’s midway point because a swarming defense had led to five one-sided victories. The feeling entering the second half of the season was one of optimism.

But this team hadn’t won a close game. It hadn’t come from behind to win.

It had faced adversity in losses to Tennessee, to the New York Jets and to the Los Angeles Rams, but it hadn’t quite been able to overcome that adversity.

They overcame it Sunday again and again.

Adversity came in the form of two touchdown passes by Rivers. It came in the form of a would-be go-ahead touchdown by safety Tashaun Gipson being reversed on official review. It came in the form of way too many self-inflicted wounds.

The Jaguars fought through those things, and when the game reached overtime the Jaguars controlled the momentum. Bortles, who threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, moved the Jaguars into Chargers territory. Even though the drive stalled, it helped change field position.

The Jaguars then clinched the game in the most fitting of fashion – on a big play by the Jaguars’ defense, off their nemesis. Rivers, playing from the shadow of his end zone – and the South End Zone – threw deep toward Travis Benjamin.

Had Rivers thrown that pass in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, maybe it’s complete.

Not against this Jaguars team. Not on Sunday. On Sunday, cornerback A.J. Bouye wrested the ball away from Benjamin. On Sunday, Bouye weaved through the Chargers offensive players all the way to the Chargers 2. And on Sunday, when Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo’s 30-yard field goal was partially blocked, it didn’t sail right or left; rather it weirdly, memorably – even aesthetically floated through the uprights.

Jaguars 20, Rivers 17. At last. They found a way to win … again.

Isn’t that cool?

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