HOUSTON, Texas – Senior writer John Oehser examines Head Coach Doug Pederson's press conference following the Jaguars’ 31-3 victory over the Houston Texans in a 2022 Week 17 game at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday
- This was one was important.Pederson made clear the importance of Sunday's victory early in his post-game comments, praising the team's attitude and focus on strange circumstances. The Jaguars entered Sunday's game knowing it meant nothing toward the AFC South race, with next Sunday's Week 18 regular-season finale against the two-time defending South champion Tennessee Titans a winner-wins-the-division game. The Jaguars will win the South if the teams tie. "Obviously, it was a unique situation," Pederson said. "I don't know if I've been a situation where you've had a game like this heading into a game for everything. It was a credit to the guys in the locker room and the coaches just to stay focused. That was kind of our mantra for the week – to stay focused and ready to go. That's what I told them in the locker room – the way they handled this week … I'm very proud of them for that. It's all part of our winning culture."
- Never say never.Pederson opted to play all healthy players on Sunday despite the game having no AFC South implications. The Jaguars as of Sunday's 1 o'clock games still had a chance at a spot in the playoffs as a wild card even if they lose to Tennessee next week but need multiple teams to lose in Week 18. All healthy Jaguars players played Sunday until the Jaguars took a 28-0 third-quarter lead, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne Jr. and right guard Brandon Scherff then leaving the game. "There's a time and a place, obviously, to rest guys," Pederson said. "I just didn't think this was the time or place to do that."
- Little motivation needed.The Jaguars have a chance next weekend to win their second AFC South title – their first since 2017. They have earned that chance with victories in their last four games – and in six of their last eight. Pederson said he doesn't believe motivation will be an issue in a winner-take-the-South matchup against the two-time defending South champions. "This is what you play for, this is what you coach for," he said. "This is what you want for your football team. You want to be in the conversation, and you want to be playing for -- for us the AFC South. We're playing a good football team. Listen, we haven't done anything yet. They're still the champs until something happens. I felt like and really feel like our guys are in a good place. They're in a good place mentally, physically. I don't really have to worry too much about them getting excited for this one."
- Streak-breaking.The Jaguars on Sunday broke yet another streak, ending the Texans' nine-game winning streak in the series. That streak dated to 2017, when the Jaguars swept Houston en route to the AFC South title. The Jaguars on Sunday also ended a lesser-discussed streak. They now have victories over all three AFC South teams this season – having beaten the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2 and the Titans in Week 14. The last time the Jaguars beat all three AFC South teams in the same season was 2010. The Jaguars also have won three consecutive road games for the first time since October-November 2017. "Can't keep count of them," Pederson said. "Back-to-back road games and all kinds of stuff. It's crazy. Just check them off. It's great for the organization. It's great for the team. This is a credit to the staff. It's a credit to the players. Even (Owner) Mr. (Shad) Khan, giving me the opportunity to coach this team and just the direction that we're headed. We still have a game left, but we've conquered a few firsts. It's a credit to those guys."
- Solid performance.Lawrence on Sunday completed 17 of 21 passes for 152 yards and no touchdowns with an interception – his second consecutive game without a touchdown pass after seven consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass. Lawrence left Sunday's game after a 75-yard touchdown drive to open the second half gave the Jaguars a 28-0 lead. "Overall, he did some good things – you know, led the football team," Pederson said. "Obviously the one pick, him and [wide receiver] Zay [Jones] kind of missed on that, but I thought he did some good things. He was high with some throws early, but settled in. It's a tough week. I understand it from the standpoint of being mentally prepared and everything, just the way the nature of the game is. But I thought he really handled himself well and led the team well."