JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines Head Coach Doug Pederson's press conference following the Jaguars' 27-20 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in a 2022 Week 9 game TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday
1. Big, big day. Pederson left no doubt following Sunday's victory about the game's importance. "Huge," he said. One reason was that the Jaguars rallied from a 17-point second-quarter deficit, making it the second-biggest come-from-behind victory in franchise history after a 25-24 2014 victory over the New York Giants in which they rallied from a 21-0 deficit. But more than that, Sunday was big because a team that had struggled to win close games won by a score or less for the first time this season. "We're just looking for one more point, right?" Pederson said. "We're just looking for guys to make plays. We're just looking for opportunities, and I think all of that came through today in this game, and this is a great team win."
2. Important day at quarterback … Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 25 of 31 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions Sunday and was particularly impressive during the critical second and third quarters. Lawrence on four series after the Raiders took a 17-0 second-quarter lead completed 17 of 19 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown to give Jaguars a 24-20 lead with running back Travis Etienne's five-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Lawrence scrambled for two first downs on third down and threw two first-down-converting passes on third down during the span. "I thought he played solid," Pederson said of Lawrence. "He played within himself. He really managed the offense, the situations, made some tough throws, got out of some tough throws, got out of some sack situations, ran hard. [He] just took a step in the right direction. That's all you can ask from your quarterback."
3. … a really important day. Pederson later in the press conference was asked to expand on the importance of the game for Lawrence, who had one of the rougher games of his NFL career in a loss to Denver the previous week. Pederson: "I think it just boosts confidence. It's everything that we talk about with him and how he can play. It takes moments like this; it takes games like this for young players to really understand sometimes what the coach is talking about a little bit. He was able to do that. It was great to see him do that. He was in a great frame of mind all game. Never once did he show any signs of panic or wavering, nothing like that. He showed a lot of confidence. As play caller, you want him to have the ball in his hands because at the time – I think especially in the second half – those third-down throws he was hot and [we] wanted to get him opportunities to finish the game as well on offense."
4. "The right direction." If there was a theme to Pederson's post-game press conference Sunday, that was it. The Jaguars had lost six one-score games this season and had led in all six losses. The defense had allowed a go-ahead touchdown in the last six minutes of five of six losses. This was a team that had talked all season about closing games and learning to win. On Sunday, the Jaguars did those things. "You don't want to put too much emphasis on wins and losses, but this is a step in the right direction," Pederson said. "We've been really close over the course of the season. It's great to see our team finish. It's great to see our defense finish. It's all steps in the right direction, right? It's something now that we can build upon. Guys have that feeling, kind of the taste in their mouth. We've just got to capitalize and keep improving."
5. Better and better. Jaguars running back Travis Etienne rushed for 109 yards on 28 carries, his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game. Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, has rushed for 465 yards and four touchdowns on 76 carries in four games since moving into the starting lineup. "We know obviously that he is going to be the guy, so we've just got to continue to find ways to get him touches in this game and really every game moving forward," Pederson said. "As a staff, we've got to be smart in how much we use him. I don't want to wear him out, but at the same time we're going to keep using him in situations to be successful. He made some tough runs in the second half. He's still learning. That's the thing that I'm excited [about], he is still learning how to run the football and where to run it sometimes. But he has so much talent that you hate for him to come off the field, especially in moments of crunch time."