JACKSONVILLE – What a game. What a day. What a moment.
Talk about living up to the pre-game hype.
The Jaguars beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, 30-24, in a game so wild, so weird, so memorable and so important for the Jaguars that it's hard to sort through it all in the minutes and hours immediately following. Suffice to say it was big.
We'll be sorting through the messy ejections at game's end for a while, as well as the weirdness and wildness that was the second half.
We entered the game expecting a defensive battle. We got a shootout.
What we got, too, was a game when the Jaguars established themselves (yet again) as one of the league's up-and-coming teams. They moved into first place in the AFC South with three games remaining. Raise your hand if you expected that in August.
The Jaguars won because the defense played really well for three quarters then made a game-saving stop late in the fourth. They won because they played like the No. 1 running offense for the first time in a while. They won because fourth-year quarterback Blake Bortles played perhaps his most poised, efficient game of his career in the most-hyped game of his career.
That's a lot to get through. Maybe we'll get through it tonight. Maybe we won't. Whatever.
Know this: The Jaguars are for real. If you didn't believe before, it's OK to believe now.
Let's get to it …
Zach from Denton, TX:
I'm tired of hearing about replacing Blake Bortles because he's the "weakness" of this offense. The guy has run a Top 10 NFL offense as a contributing weapon – not just a manager. I get he has his opportunities, but please tell me you get the idea that this organization sees Bortles as an asset, not a liability.
John: This was the much-ballyhooed, much-anticipated, oft-discussed First Email of the Game – and rarely has said email been as dead on. Bortles for a second time in as many weeks and for perhaps the fifth time this season played perhaps the most impressive game of his career Sunday. He was poised. He was accurate. He was clutch. He responded to the Seahawks tying the game in the third quarter with a perfect 75-yard touchdown to wide receiver Keelan Cole; if that wasn't the biggest play of Bortles' career, I don't know what was bigger. The running game was important for the Jaguars Sunday. So were the three interceptions off Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. But Bortles' poise and performance to me defined this one. Give the kid his due. He has been maligned a lot. Sunday was his day and the Jaguars don't win that one without him.
TJ from Orlando, FL:
Tell Dede Westbrook I don't appreciate him having cameras in my house and stealing my touchdown dance. Patent pending!
John: Will do.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ:
O-man, they did it!
Jeremy from Wise. VA:
Halftime. O-line playing very well. Fowler with same stupid mistakes. Jalen is a monster. Blake looks composed.
John: This was not the much-ballyhooed, much-anticipated, oft-discussed First Email of the Game, but it made enough good points that I almost decided to treat it us as such. Yes, the offensive line played well early. Yes, Dante Fowler's first-half mistakes could have been very, very costly. Yes, Ramsey is as good as advertised. And yes, Bortles looked very composed and very good pretty much the entire game.
Mike from Eagle River, AK:
This Jags team has so much energy, it's so damn fun to watch them when they get all riled up! #ramseyforpotus
JT from Rosamond, CA:
Craziest 3rd quarter I have ever seen...
John: It was up there. The Jaguars scored their three touchdowns – an 18-yard pass from Bortles to Westbrook, a 75-yard pass from Bortles to Keelan Cole and a one-yard run by Leonard Fournette – on consecutive offensive plays. That sort of explains how crazy the third quarter was. But yeah … crazy.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
Playing with the big dogs and winning. This was a monumental win for the Jags.
John: It was, and as much as there is to parse through after this one that's really what matters. The Jaguars felt like the better team much of the game. They led 27-10 in the fourth quarter. Bortles and the offense responded impressively to the Seahawks' first rally and the defense made big plays late to end the Seahawks' second rally. Yes, the Seahawks had a ton of defensive injuries, but so what? The Jaguars played that game without Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns and Telvin Smith. The Jaguars ran over the Seahawks. They beat a proud team in a game that proud team needed. They punched a five-time defending playoff team in the mouth and kept punching. They did this enough that the Seahawks lost their composure at the end of the game. The Jaguars are in first place now. There is much to do the rest of the season but on this day they made the statement they wanted to make. There are probably other reasons I'm forgetting that this game Sunday was big. But those are among them.