EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 19-3 victory over the New York Jets in a 2022 Week 16 game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Thursday
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
- Well, well, well … Don't look now, but the Jaguars officially are "hot." They have won three consecutive games, all against contending teams – and Thursday's 19-3 victory over the New York Jets was impressive for multiple reasons. One was the quality of the Jets' defense. Another was that the Jaguars won on the road on a short week in difficult conditions. And maybe the most impressive part of the victory was the Jaguars overcame an early lost fumble and a three-point deficit to take control of the game quickly and secure what they haven't had since September – a comparatively "comfortable" victory. The Jaguars' three-game winning streak is their longest since 2017. That it has come against three teams at or above .500 shows that the Jaguars are deserving of their sudden status as playoff contenders. Remember: If the Jaguars win at Houston next week and at home against Tennessee in Week 18, they win the AFC South. "We have something special here," quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "We kind of had to figure out what we wanted to do before it got too late. We made adjustments and really started playing our best ball at the right time. I love the momentum and the energy we have right now." This special team controls its destiny, and this special team is hot. Officially.
- Just what they needed. This wasn't a pretty game in the big picture. But there was beauty in this performance for the Jaguars, particularly in a game-defining drive in the first half that ranks among the Jaguars' best possessions of the season. The Jaguars scored just one touchdown Thursday, and spent much of the game draining the clock and protecting the ball against a dangerous Jets defense. The Jaguars scored all the points they needed in the second quarter when they drove 96 yards on 16 plays, a stunningly efficient drive that used 8:15 of the first and second quarters and gave the Jaguars a 10-3 lead with 11:26 remaining in the half. How impressive was the drive? The Jaguars faced just one third down on the possession a third-and-goal from the one that Lawrence converted into a touchdown with a dive over center Luke Fortner. "It was huge," tight end Engram said. "We came into this game challenged physically. Our bodies were feeling it. We knew they were one of the most physical defenses we've seen all year. For us to put that one together and go get it done, it was really important. It was a big part of the game. It was a big reason we won."
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
- On an ugly night in New York the Jaguars employed an efficient – if not beautiful – form of offense. Don't let the way it looked fool you: The Jaguars dominated the Jets, and I would wager that if the weather was no factor they would have won 31-3. Outside of the Quinnen Williams sack on the first series of the game, the offensive line controlled the Jets' aggressive front and allowed Lawrence to be steady and efficient. It was clear the plan was to take what the Jets' defense gave them, minimize risk and do what it took to win – and Lawrence passed the test with flying colors. If the plan had been to launch the ball down the field and throw it 45 times, I have zero doubt he would have entirely overshadowed Zach Wilson in that regard also. Lawrence was the best player on the field.
- The Jaguars are playing at a playoff level right now. Which figures, since every game is essentially a playoff game the rest of the way. They won a game on Thursday they needed to win on the road in a big, loud, playoff-like atmosphere on a short week – and the outcome was in doubt for only a matter of minutes. Jaguars quarterback, Lawrence, is on another level as we come down the stretch. The offensive line has allowed four sacks in the last four games and has powered the running game to an average of 170 yards per game the last two weeks against the Cowboys and Jets – both top-five defenses. Look at what tight end Evan Engram, wide receiver Zay Jones and wide receiver Christian Kirk have done. The defense has forced eight turnovers the last three weeks and gotten more pressure against the Titans, Dallas Cowboys and Jets than in the six games before. They're on a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2017, the last time they went to the playoffs, and they have a head coach who knows the right buttons to push. Start planning for a home playoff game in mid-January.