JACKSONVILLE – Here's what Sunday was:
That's the most important thing to remember in the wake of the Jaguars' 20-17 heart-stopping overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at EverBank Field Sunday.
Yes, a lot went wrong for the Jaguars for a long time. Yes, the Jaguars made a lot of mistakes. Yes, it was a game they could have lost. Yes, for long time it appeared Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers might break the collective hearts of the Jaguars and their fans yet again.
But that didn't happen. And because it didn't happen, the Jaguars are 6-3 and remain in a tie for first place in the AFC South. They're very much in contention for the postseason.
Here's the important thing to remember about the postseason: you don't generally make it there without a victory or two such as the one the Jaguars had Sunday. Playoff runs aren't about winning every game by 15 or more points. Somewhere along the line, you must win a game or two that had a chance to go the other way. Somewhere along the line, you have to gut out a victory or two. Sometimes, you need a couple where you just say "Wow" and "whew."
The Jaguars did that Sunday in a big way.
There's much to discuss about how they got the victory – and the inbox in the coming days undoubtedly will be filled with the good and bad of that discussion – but the only important thing about Sunday was the victory. There are no style points in the NFL. You do everything you can to win – and if you win, you're ecstatic.
So, as you parse through the rest of your emotions tonight – and as you inevitably worry about what the Jaguars didn't do – it's OK to take time to be ecstatic.
This is fun. The Jaguars are contending.
Let's get to it …
Al from Orange Park, FL:
Whew. Glad for the win, but I hope Coach gives the boys the "grow up" speech. That game was very nearly lost due to taunting penalties. Grow up a bit, kids!!
John: So true. The Jaguars were penalized nine times for 108 yards Sunday, including a penalty on cornerback Aaron Colvin in overtime for taunting and another taunting penalty in the fourth quarter by wide receiver Marqise Lee. Colvin's penalty made kicker Josh Lambo's game-winning field goal more difficult – and Lee's moved the Jaguars to the fringe of field-goal range. Bortles threw an interception on the play after Lee's indiscretion, so we don't know for sure the impact of the penalty, but whatever: the penalties were unnecessary. The Jaguars are an emotional, enthusiastic, talkative team. They feed off their own energy, and it makes them fun to watch. It's part of what has made them good. But as Head Coach Doug Marrone says often, none of it's OK if hurts the team. It nearly hurt big-time Sunday and I have no doubt it will be a point of emphasis moving forward.
Mark from Green Bay:
Why John, Why?
John: What, Mark, what?
Bobby from Salt Lake City, UT:
Hey John ... how much longer are they going to ask this defense to make up for Bortles' mistakes? Blake Bortles almost cost us the game twice today. If it wasn't for our defense, we would have been destroyed. I'm OK for trying Henne out next week. Defense should not have to make up for mistakes by our offensive leader.
John: It's wonderful to know what you're OK with, but the Jaguars aren't changing quarterbacks. Bortles completed 28 of 51 passes for 273 yards Sunday, and did so against one of the NFL's best pass rushes. He also had one of the best drives of his NFL career to get the Jaguars back in the game in the third quarter. Chad Henne's not going to start at quarterback for the Jaguars next Sunday, nor should he. Bortles wasn't perfect, and his first interception in particular was a throw you can't make. But he also made a bunch of plays that Henne couldn't make and he remains the Jaguars' best option at quarterback. As for the defense not having to make up for mistakes by the quarterback, I'm not so sure. This team is built around its defense and running game. The defense has won a lot of games for this team. That's sort of what it does and for this team it sort of does seem OK to ask the defense to win games.
Joshua from Harrisburg, PA:
Few teams have the ability to overcome what this team had to in order to win today, which is a huge positive. They just can't repeatedly put themselves in that situation. Either way, the playoff beard is coming in nice.
John: Sunday's victory was as significant as any the Jaguars in recent memory, and it was as impressive and as important as any this season. The Jaguars beat a long-time nemesis – Rivers – and did so in come-from-behind fashion. They made big plays late. They did it despite a couple of fourth-quarter turnovers. Several players afterward said no way the Jaguars would have won that game a couple of seasons ago, and they're right. This was a big-boy, contending-team victory. It was huge.
Jacob from New York:
How? What a finish. But how?
John: Sometimes, you don't ask how. Sometimes, you just say "Whew" and celebrate for a while and move on. This is one of those times.