The Jaguars weren't supposed to be able to stand toe to toe with the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
The final score – 50-10, Patriots – says they didn't. But there was a moment early in the second quarter when it appeared the offense had found the spark it needed to at least play competitive football.
Said Trevor Lawrence afterward:
"People look at the final score and the stats and do all those things but when you're in the game you see how close it is. You see how small the margin is and it can get away from you fast. The game is played with momentum.
"Especially in this league, momentum is huge."
The Patriots had that momentum early in the second quarter after running back Damien Harris' second rushing touchdown gave them a 14-3 lead – and based on the Jaguars' lack of offensive production the last seven weeks, it seemed more than enough to beat the visiting team.
But Lawrence, playing behind a patchwork offensive line missing three starters – and with the pieced-together group of skill players he has had for most of the last two months – had something to prove.
First, he found wide receiver Laquon Treadwell for eight yards on 3rd-and-3 from the Jaguars 29. He connected with wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. for 24 yards on the ensuing play. The Jaguars then faced 2nd-and-9 at the Patriots 38 with a chance to again cut the lead.
That's when the Jaguars' momentum, however fleeting, came to a sudden halt.
A perfectly thrown pass from Lawrence to running back Ryquell Armstead went between Armstead's hands and into the arms of safety Myles Bryant, who returned it 33 yards to the Jaguars 33 – a play that led to a Patriots touchdown and a 21-3 New England lead.
The Patriots ran downhill the rest of the afternoon. Lawrence threw two more interceptions, setting up two more New England touchdowns and the Jaguars worst loss since they lost 51-17 in New England in September 2015.
Lawrence's second interception came on the ensuing series, with cornerback J.C. Jackson intercepting for a first down at the Jaguars 43.
"That's situational football," Lawrence said. "It's like, 'OK, they've got a little momentum, let's put together a good drive, eat some clock, keep moving the ball.' That throw … I'd love to have just thrown it away, we'd just converted a big third down."
"That's just one example from today of how I can take care of the football and do a better job of giving our defense a chance to regroup and get ready for that next possession instead of having another sudden change."
Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, would have every reason to be counting down days until his first NFL season is over. He leads the league with 16 interceptions and has endured a barrage of hits on the field and in the media while other rookie quarterbacks such as New England's Mac Jones and Houston's Davis Mills have had a better time of it.
"I wouldn't say that I'm ready for the season to be over," Lawrence said Sunday. "When that comes, it's going to be nice to take a breather and really take in everything that's happened this year. It has been a wild year. Really, I kind of want some more opportunities to finish strong and we've got a lot of guys who have worked really hard and deserve a chance to win."
Lawrence sounded as if he expected a Jaguars team ravaged by injuries and COVID-19 to prepare next week with the mindset of winning next Sunday. For that to happen, they must beat a Colts team that will arrive in Jacksonville needing a win to solidify its playoff position.
"Really want to flip the page and let's go and finish strong," Lawrence said. "We have one more week left. I don't want to hear anything about offseason. We have a week left and let's put everything we have into it and feel good about going into the off-season feeling like we left everything out there."
Check out these top game photos of the Jacksonville Jaguars as they take on the New England Patriots for Week 17 of the NFL Regular Season at MetLife Stadium.