OAKLAND, Calif. – Gardner Minshew II smiled.
He was talking about ending an era, something he had just done in memorable – and very unexpected – fashion. So, this smile was one he very much had earned.
"It was definitely an awesome experience," he said.
Whatever awesomeness there was in Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Sunday, it came with a big dose of Minshew Mania as the rookie quarterback rallied the Jaguars from a 13-point halftime deficit with two touchdown passes to wide receiver Chris Conley in the final 5:15.
That gave the Jaguars a 20-16 victory in the Raiders' final game in Oakland before they leave for Las Vegas in the offseason. It also snapped the Jaguars' five-game losing streak and made Minshew 5-5 as a starter this season.
The game was very much a story of two very different halves – for Minshew and for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars trailed 16-3 at halftime and had been outgained 273-75. The Raiders had 17 first downs to two for the Jaguars with Minshew having completed three of 10 passes for 69 yards.
The Jaguars then outgained the Raiders, 187-91, in the second half. They had 15 first downs to 10 for the Raiders with Minshew completing 14 of 19 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think that he got off to a rough start," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. "A lot of that was what we were trying to get done, too, schematically for as far as what we were trying to accomplish and taking some shots early. He had a lot of incompletions, but we just have to get him going and get some completions for him.
"That is what we were able to do. Obviously, he can make some plays and he did."
Minshew led a 14-play, 59-yard drive late in the third quarter that ended with a 43-yard field goal by kicker Josh Lambo, then an 11-play, 79-yard drive ended with his six-yard pass to Conley with 5:15 remaining.
That made it 16-13. Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson missed twice – once from 50 yards and once from 45 yards after a penalty – to give the Jaguars an emotional lift.
Minshew took advantage, passing for 48 yards on the next drive and running for eight more. On 3rd-and-goal from the Raiders 4, he threw to Conley shallow in the end zone. The veteran wide receiver secured the reception for a second time in as many possessions.
Jaguars 20, Raiders 16.
"Gardner is a dog," defensive end Josh Allen said afterward.
Defensive tackle Abry Jones echoed the compliment. A member of the field-goal team, Jones said he was ready in case that third-down pass to Conley fell incomplete. But deep down, Jones said he didn't expect the field goal would be necessary.
"I just knew we were going to win," Jones said. "I stood at the end to get ready for the field goal, and I didn't move. I just waited for him to score."
Allen's first-half sack gave him 10 for the season, making him the seventh player in franchise history with double-digit sacks in a season. He also became the sixth rookie in the NFL this decade with 10 or more sacks. The others: Ndamukong Suh (2010), Aldon Smith (2011), Von Miller (2011), Joey Bosa (2016) and Bradley Chubb (2018). Allen left the game with a shoulder stinger in the first half but returned and finished the game. "I'm good," he said. "Nothing wrong. I'm good. I'm all good, baby."
Marrone on ending a five-game losing streak: "It (the streak) has been awful, terrible – an adjective that you really can't even describe what it feels like. When you put in all the time, all the work … it is same for the players and support staff and everyone around. The chance to just take a deep breath and know to keep working to keep fighting and you get a win … obviously it feels good. It is always good to win."
Marrone: "I got a question last week about, 'Hey, do you think that anyone is quitting?' Which is natural when a team is losing football games. People are going to ask that, but I really haven't seen it in the team. I haven't and that is a credit to the coaches and the players. We just wanted to keep it tight and get an opportunity to win the game and that is what we did and were able to do."
Allen: "We never thought about a losing streak. We just thought about the next game. We're 1-0. That's our mindset. We take it week in and week out. We're extremely happy, excited and ready to get back home."
Defensive end Calais Campbell: "If we just played like this the whole season, who knows what would have happened. It is what it is. All you can do is control what's in front of you, what's right here in the moment."
Campbell: "All week I was just thinking about how historic this place is, this city, football in this city, the legendary coaches, legendary players, legendary owner. Football is big in this building and just to be a part of it in the last game here and to pull out a win it feels good. We wanted to play well. It was a great motive for us. The whole game we just kept believing and found a way to get it done baby. Just win baby."
Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette: "To come out with a win is good. We fought throughout the entire game. You never know what happens in football when you put your head down and keep fighting, and we came out with the victory. … It was cool. It was crazy. You know, people yelling at you, calling you all types of [expletive] every two minutes. I enjoyed it to be honest."
Jones: "We definitely needed this. I told guys before we hit the field: 'I don't want to be sitting on the couch 20 or 30 years later, and I see us on ESPN Classic because they're playing the last time in the Coliseum and we're out there getting our ass beat.' I told them I'm not trying to be that guy on the couch, so we made sure we came out and got that win."