JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2022 season, NFL Media and Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 31-30 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Saturday.
- The Jaguars are resilient, with a "never-say-die" attitude and a knack for overcoming significant odds to win. They became the first team in NFL postseason history to overcome a minus-five turnover deficit to win. Although the Chargers contributed to the comeback with poor clock management and questionable tactical decisions, the Jaguars scored on each of their final five drives and generated enough stops to win. At a time when it would have been easy to fold up the tent and take the "L," the Jaguars battled back from a huge hole to grind out one of the most impressive wins in franchise history.
KEYS TO VICTORY
- The Jaguars shook off some early mistakes to pull off an unlikely upset at the 'Bank. Despite turning the ball over five times and trailing 27-0 in the first half, the Jaguars crept back into the game with an efficient offensive performance over the last 30-plus minutes that was complemented by timely playmaking from an opportunistic defense. In the second half, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence rediscovered his connection with wide receivers Marvin Jones, Zay Jones and Christian Kirk and tight end Evan Engram by carving up the Chargers' defense with surgical precision. With running back Travis Etienne Jr. quietly putting up a 100-yard rushing game, the Jaguars were balanced enough to take advantage of the "bend-but-don't-break" tactics utilized by the Chargers in the second half. The Jaguars' steady approach enabled them to squeak out a dramatic one-point victory in a game that featured colossal momentum swings due to turnovers and big plays.
- The mark of an elite player is how they respond to adversity. Lawrence's ability to bounce back from a four-interception half suggests the Jaguars' QB1 is well on his way toward becoming a Tier 1 quarterback. After starting the game connecting on four of 16 passes, Lawrence finished the night with an impressive stat line (completed 28 of 47 passes for 288 yards) that included four touchdowns. In addition, he added a crucial two-point conversion on an improvised play that showcased his football IQ and guts. Lawrence's poise and perseverance were displayed in one of the biggest games in Jaguars history. And his teammates appreciate him more after watching him battle through a storm that would have engulfed most quarterbacks in this league.
- Etienne's solid performance as a runner enabled the Jaguars to overcome a sub-par performance from their QB1. The second-year pro slithered through creases and cracks on his way to a 100-yard game in his playoff debut. With the Chargers' defense unable to contain his speed and quickness on the edges (SEE: fourth-and-one conversion in the fourth quarter) or handle his toughness between the tackles, Etienne gave the Jaguars' offense the steady production that was needed to seize control of a game that appeared out of reach in the first quarter.
- Credit Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson and the offensive staff for cracking the Chargers' defensive code in the second half. The offensive brain trust adapted and adjusted to Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley's exotic disguises and coverages to give Lawrence a solid game plan in the second half. Pederson mixed in some core concepts with some tweaks that enabled the young quarterback to regain his rhythm after a shaky start. The offensive gurus also dug into a bag of tricks to come up with a few crucial calls that shifted the game's momentum into the Jaguars' favor. The clever utilization of the T-formation on a fourth-and-one situation, in particular, was a brilliant move by a staff that has found a way to stay one step ahead of their opponents down the stretch.
- With his solid defensive plan, coordinator Mike Caldwell deserves kudos for keeping the game within reach. Despite playing on short fields for the majority of the first half, the Jaguars' timely stops prevented the Chargers from blowing the game open. The defense ramped up the intensity in the second half with a more aggressive approach that stymied the Chargers' running game and disrupted Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert's rhythm within the pocket. Considering how the adjustments and tweaks helped the Jaguars climb back into the game, Caldwell deserves a game ball and a round of applause for his efforts in the Wild Card round.
It's not over until we say it's over! 👏 Swipe through to view top moments from the Jacksonville Jaguars historic comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2022 AFC Wild Card game.