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O-Zone: Magical

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF. On national television for the world to see, the Jaguars displayed what sums up the Jaguars this season. They are the Cardiac Cats. It was always the Jags!!!!

This indeed was a cool aspect of the Jaguars' 31-30 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in a 2022 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at TIAA Bank Field Saturday. The Jaguars went a loooong time between non-Thursday prime-time appearances, with a home victory over the Tennessee Titans to clinch the AFC South in the regular-season finale their first such appearance since 2011. The team now has back-to-back dramatic, memorable prime-time victories. Saturday had the added twist of a rising superstar in quarterback Trevor Lawrence turning in the sort of overcoming-adversity game that resonates with viewers. The Jaguars flashed on the national radar Saturday. They won in a cool way. I'm sure they'll get the national "love" and "respect" that fans so covet next week. They likely even gained a few fans. Maybe more than a few. My guess is in twenty years, whoever is writing this column will receive emails from fans who said this was the game that started them following the Jaguars. This was that sort of night. At long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long last.

James from Jacksonville

Why do you believe that Trevor had so many more interceptions this game as compared to the season? Was the stage just so big? Lack of concentration? Chargers defense just that good? I don't believe that they were all his fault, but I would like to know your perspective.

Games such as that happens for quarterbacks sometimes, and it's important to consider each throw rather than view them as all as one. Remember: Lawrence's first interception Saturday came on a tipped pass and his second came when Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. pretty clearly interfered with wide receiver Zay Jones. That second interception also came on fourth down, so it really didn't hurt much. His third and fourth interceptions were rougher. I wouldn't attribute any of them – or the performance – to the stage or concentration. As he said afterward, he had one that was a bad read and the others were a little quirky. There's nothing to indicate that sort of game will be a "thing" for Lawrence. Bottom line: It's how quarterbacks respond to these situations that matter more than the situations themselves. Lawrence threw four touchdown passes on the next four possessions. That's a decent response.

Gibran from Aledo, TX

More of a statement. I've had to be a fan from afar since 1995. Watching this Jaguars team has been unbelievable! But to see Saturday go down and then see Twitter erupt with Trevor eating out afterwards at a local Waffle House, I'm speechless. Jacksonville, you have your quarterback and your team! I can't wait to finally make a trip to TIAA for a home game! Yes KOAF, I'm all in!!


Allen from St C

All the accolades to Trevor and the offense. But without the tremendous job of the defense, it would all be for naught. Half of LACs points were from short drives - don't know if they score that many if they had to go the length of the field. One for the defense.

The defense was outstanding Saturday. The unit essentially allowed two scoring drives playing under pressure the entire game. It also got a huge three-and-out with the game on the line. One fer the defense indeed.

Clayton from Shawnee, OK

It's not like there weren't teams in the past that had near-perfect second halves and rallied to win. But for this team to commit five turnovers, fall behind 27-0 and still win … that's a magic I've never seen. Where does this rank for you, Zone, in your career as a writer? Go Jags.

This is the best Jaguars comeback I ever covered. The Indianapolis Colts teams I covered had three comebacks that stand out – a 38-35 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003, a 31-27 victory over the Houston Texans in 2008 and a 38-34 victory over the New England Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship Game. The 2003 Buccaneers games is the most remarkable comeback I ever covered, with the Colts winning after trailing 35-14 with less than four minutes remaining. Saturday is up there with that game. And it happened in the postseason. Remarkable.

Steven from Jacksonville

John O - do you rank this one at the top? Even over the win in Denver in '96?

It's up there. A 30-27 victory over the Denver Broncos in the 1996 Divisional Playoff was unreal because the Broncos were 13-3 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The game also was at Mile High Stadium, a brutally difficult place for visitors to win. A 30-27 victory over the Buffalo Bills in an AFC Wild Card Playoff the previous week in Buffalo was big for the same reasons. It's also not fair to disregard two playoff victories at Pittsburgh – following the 2007 and 2017 seasons. But a 27-point rally in the postseason? It's probably on the Rushmore, though I don't know if can put it above Denver '96.                      

Jim from Duuuval

I can't tell you how many times I heard from the bandwagon fans Saturday, "Well, I'm not buying season tickets now" during the first half on Saturday. I told these "fans" how we have been sitting in our seats for nearly 20 years, cheering on this team and where have they been? They responded with some pretty unflattering things O. Some pretty mean things I must say. After the field goal, ten different people gave me a hug, apologized, and said that we deserved this victory. I hope the city comes through for the Jags and fills this stadium for years to come through thick and thin. I don't know if it will happen, do you?

I admit I was a bit surprised at the vehemence of readers in the first half Saturday. There was an overwhelming sentiment that because the Jaguars were struggling in that half, nothing they had done this season was real – and nothing had changed with the franchise. That was a bit extreme, but fans fan. It's what they do. The city will support this team if it wins. Support will be a bit less if it doesn't win as much. It will be a lot less if it loses as it did for the last 10 years. But I don't doubt at all that the support will increase now. This is a very good fan base. It will support competitiveness.

Yoav from St. Johns, FL

Is this the game that solidifies Doug Pederson being coach of the year?

Likely not. Awards such as these are regular season awards with voting taking place before the postseason begins. I doubt Head Coach Doug Pederson will win the award, deserving though he may be. My sense is it will go to New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll. Talk amongst yourselves on that one.

Dan from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Mr. O-Zone, what do you consider was more improbable, the Jaguars winning the way they did or making the playoffs after starting 3-7?


Justice from Atlanta via Jacksonville

Your thoughts on the mental toughness of a quarterback that throws four interceptions in a half, at home, team down 27-0, in an elimination game that's being televised primetime nationally and pulls off that comeback?

I think it's remarkable, frankly. I received many emails in the first half Saturday night down on the Jaguars, which was understandable considering the way the team and Lawrence played. I also received more than a few asking if we needed to reconsider whether Lawrence was going to be elite and asking if he was regressing. These were far less understandable. Look: NFL quarterbacks have ups and down – even the very best. I once watched Colts quarterback Peyton Manning throw six interceptions in a game. I watched him lose playoff games. I watched him have bad stretches. I also covered him during four Most Valuable Player seasons and watched him take nine of the 10 Colts teams I covered to the postseason. Lawrence isn't Manning yet, but he's in his second season and he's absolutely showing elite traits. He makes throws that are stunning. He turns in performances that are stunning. Saturday night was the most impressed I've been with Lawrence because of that mental toughness. Not only did he not lose confidence after four interceptions, he steadied himself and then began to play progressively better as the game got closer and the pressure increased. Lawrence will have more difficult moments because even the best quarterbacks have difficult moments. But if you have remaining doubt about Lawrence's ability to be elite, then you don't understand the NFL and you lack perspective on what defines elite quarterbacking. He's on the way. Without question.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

I am still in disbelief that we won. This absolutely magical season improbably goes on!

Winning is cool. People like it – even a day or two later.