JACKSONVILLE – A lot of happiness. A lot of joy. A lot of #Duvals. A lot of #DTWDs.
And why not?
The Jaguars are in the AFC Championship Game. I'm not making this up.
Let's get to it …
Jay from Salem, OR:
After a three-win season last year and then this?!!! I am shocked and feeling good about their future. No matter what happens in the game against New England, this is a franchise rejuvenated! #DTWD
John: Don't look too far ahead, Jay. Enjoy the moment because you only get to be a young team shocking the world once in a great while. The Jaguars absolutely are that; they shocked a lot of people in the football world with a 45-42 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC Divisional Playoff Sunday – and yes, there's a real joy, giddiness and exhilaration in watching that process play out. Yes, I believe the Jaguars have a bright future, but worry about the future later. This is the good stuff. This is why you suffered through losing and this is why you stuck with a team through dark times instead of rooting for other teams when it might have been easy to do so. It's the hard that makes it good. It was hard for a long time, but what's going on now? It's pretty good, isn't it?
Terry from Miami, FL:
Not a question, but a statement, WOW!
Jim from Middleburg, FL:
Still no respect for the offensive line …
John: This is fair. The Jaguars' offensive line hadn't been praised much lately, but the group really hadn't deserved a lot of praise and hadn't played great lately. I thought after the Jaguars beat the Seahawks in December if the line played as well the rest of the season as it did in that game, the Jaguars would go to the Super Bowl. They hadn't played that well since. They did Sunday. As far as going to Super Bowl if they play that well again … yeah, I stand by that thought.
Chris from Houston, TX:
One fer T.J. Yeldon!! Enough said. Go Jags!!!!
John: One fer Yeldon? Absolutely. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has talked all season about his faith in all four running backs: Leonard Fournette, Corey Grant, Yeldon and Chris Ivory. Yeldon had played well in recent weeks. On Sunday he turned in a clutch performance in the biggest game of his career. That's memorable stuff.
Gamble from Brasilia, Brasil:
No matter what happens at New England, we all know who the Jaguars' quarterback will be next year. Doesn't a playoff win at Pittsburgh earn that?
John: My gut is Blake Bortles may have earned this before Sunday. He has played far better than most wanted to believe most of the season, particularly considering the youth and injuries around in him on offense. And guess what? Bortles is 2-0 in the postseason and 1-0 against future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the playoffs. Soak that in for a while.
George from Jacksonville:
That was an epic game! Immediately after the game I stuck my head out the front door and heard car horns blowing, bells ringing, and boat whistles blowing.
John: That was in your head.
Thomas from Middleburg, FL:
Hey, John: Remember that Week 17 loss and how important it was? Yeah, me neither. #DTWD
John: A brilliant man once said there was really no such thing as momentum entering the postseason, particularly when it came to a team that already had clinched its postseason seeding. I forget the name of that man. I just remember he was charming, attractive, witty, amusing and danced like a toe-tapping fool.
Chris from Niagara Falls, CA:
Hey, Zone. What a day to be alive!
John: It's a-ight.
Kyle from Noblesville, IN:
I think I am going to say "Be afraid, be very, very afraid" in my most evil voice to every Patriot fan I run across this week. This week is going to be fun, #DTWD
John: This week will be fun, and you know what? While the Patriots have too much experience and too much talent at quarterback to be afraid – or very afraid – they need to be prepared. This Jaguars team is dangerous. No, the defense didn't play its best game Sunday, but anyone who has seen this team this season knows the defense is very capable of shutting down any offense. It didn't shut down the Steelers Sunday, but can it pressure Patriots quarterback Tom Brady Sunday? Can it force turnovers? Can it play well enough to make this game competitive Sunday? Yes, yes and absolutely yes.
Tom from St. Johns, FL:
O-Zone, let's give the B-I-G Bologna Stick to the man who deserves it most: the head coach who has been the anchor and motivator and who made the decision to activate T.J. Yeldon instead of Chris Ivory. Whhatta Job!!!!!!
John: The Jaguars are 13-7 since Doug Marrone took over as head coach. When he took over, they were 2-12. They won the AFC South this season and will play for the AFC Championship on Sunday. Should we give the man a bologna stick? Sure. No doubt.
Chuck from North Augusta, SC:
What a great game! If they lose next week, I will be disappointed. I will wonder "what if?" during the Super Bowl. However, nothing will take away from how happy I am for the Jaguars today. #DTWD
Ken from Fort Lauderdale, FL:
Was putting up 45 points and beating the Steelers twice at home that secret game plan you were talking about in January 13 column? Unreal! GO JAGS!!
Frankie from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Who was that quarterback that played for the Jaguars Sunday and what has he done with Blake Bortles?
John: This was a cute attempt at humor, but the quarterback who played Sunday indeed was Bortles – and he has played like that quite a bit this season. If you hadn't noticed, don't worry. A lot of other people hadn't noticed, either.
Scott from Medford, NJ:
Is today the day Blake Bortles became the Jaguars quarterback?
John: No. He was the quarterback in Week 1 against Houston, and Week 3 against Baltimore, and a couple of times against the Colts. And against Seattle. And against Houston again. And against …
Dakota from Dupree, SD:
Can they stop Tom Brady's short passes next week?
John: We shall see. I think the Jaguars' coverage ability in the secondary, their speed at linebacker and their ability to rush the passer quickly give them a chance to pressure Brady and the Patriots' offense. There's more to stopping New England than that, but the pass rush and secondary? That's a serious start.
Mark from West Des Moines, IA:
No question today, all I have to say is from Iowa DUUUUUUUUVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dustin from Duval:
I am so proud of this team! Not just for Sunday's win, but this entire season. Did you know they only won three games last year John? THREE!!! From our epic defense to our gritty, get-it-done-however-you-have-to quarterback, these boys have played their tails off in whatever situation they are faced with. Of course I want them to win two more, but regardless of what happens from here on out, I'm damned proud of how this season has turned out. #DTWD!!
Todd from Oklahoma City, OK:
Man they are making you earn your paycheck this year with all the extra games.
John: Yeah … you take the good with the bad, Todd. You take the good with the bad.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
John: Jerell's happy.
Richard from Lincoln, RI:
I was driving home after the game and put on Boston sports radio. One of the broadcasters said, "The league can't be too happy with the outcome of that game." Are you kidding me?
John: You know what? There may be some people at the league level not happy. And there may be some people at CBS not thrilled. And there may be a lot of people in Pittsburgh and Buffalo and a lot of other AFC cities not happy. But you what else? Not everybody can be happy – and not everybody needs to be happy. Jaguars fans haven't been happy in a long time. They get to be happy now. Hell, even Jerell's happy. This is their moment. Who cares about everyone else?