KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in a 2022 AFC Divisional Playoff game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
- What a ride – and a worthy conqueror.Make no mistake: This loss hurt. A lot. Jaguars players and Head Coach Doug Pederson to a man afterward talked about the pain of an opportunity missed and the hurt of a special season-ending. "It's a disappointment," wide receiver Zay Jones said when asked if the locker-room emotions were perhaps a mix of short-term disappointment and big-picture pride. "No one suited up today to go lose. We practiced to win. We prepared to win. We fell short. That's what it is." But once the pain fades, players and coaches will correctly feel pride in what this team accomplished, and how the Jaguars reminded a city and fan base how it feels to love a team. Who knows how this season will rank among the Jaguars' best seasons. For that matter, who cares? This team accomplished what at midseason seemed unimaginable; the Jaguars, after back-to-back seasons with the NFL's worst record after a 2-6 start, were one of the last eight teams playing. No team in NFL history has managed such a turnaround. They lost Saturday to the AFC's No. 1 seed, a team experienced in these games. That experience showed, and the Chiefs – even with quarterback Patrick Mahomes hobbled – made bigger plays at bigger moments than the Jaguars. That's not a surprise. It's not a knock on the Jaguars. It's what seasoned, championships do. That's where the Chiefs are and where the Jaguars want to go. The thought here is this season was the first step there. What a first step it was. And what a ride.
- The second quarter stung.The Jaguars had multiple chances and will have multiple regrets after Saturday's loss. But the NFL adage that all is magnified in the postseason rang particularly true Saturday. With the game tied 7-7, the ankle injury to Mahomes changed the game's dynamic. Mahome's ability to evade pressure and make plays had given the Chiefs the early lead, but that was limited after the injury – and he left the game for nearly a quarter soon thereafter. Trailing 10-7, the Jaguars drove to the Chiefs 25, but a tripping penalty on left tackle Walker Little cost the Jaguars 10 yards and a sack by Chiefs pass rusher Frank Clark moved the Jaguars out of field-goal range. The Jaguars then allowed backup quarterback Chad Henne to drive the Chiefs 98 yards, a drive capped with a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Instead of the Jaguars taking momentum – and the lead – after Mahomes' injury, the Chiefs had stretched a three-point lead to 17-7. The game was far from over at that point, but it was a huge chance at momentum missed in a painful fashion. "That was obviously a turning point or a momentum switch," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "We had him at the two and kind of let them off the hook a little bit. Again, those are opportunities where we need to be better. We need to play better, coach better in those situations."
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
- The Jaguars had their chances, but couldn't close the deal.A fourth-quarter lost red-zone fumble by wide receiver Jamal Agnew was nearly the end of the ride but it wasn't the beginning of the Jaguars' missed opportunities Saturday. They couldn't score on the drive after Mahomes left the game. They couldn't stop Henne from putting together the longest drive in Chiefs playoff history for a touchdown with a roughing-the-passer penalty on pass rusher Arden Key keeping the drive alive. They couldn't stop Mahomes in the fourth quarter after quarterback Trevor Lawrence made it a three-point game, then they committed two late turnovers in a three-play span. The Chiefs are probably the best team in the AFC, and they overcame the injury to Mahomes. The Jaguars couldn't overcome their issues and end the season with 10 wins and nine losses.
- Lawrence is going to be an elite quarterback. He showed a national audience what he's made of over and over on Saturday: Big throws, tough runs, fearless in the pocket and the heart of the Jaguars with the way he battled to the end. You don't need me to go over all the big throws and come-from-behind moments he delivered in 2022. Pederson did an exceptional job of picking him up after a rugged rookie season and putting him back on track to his potential. Now Jaguars coaches will try to finetune things like red-zone production and protecting the ball better than they did this season. But you don't need me to tell you what you have in Lawrence. You have a franchise quarterback and he's going to be one of the best in the NFL very soon.