JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 40-34 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a 2022 Week 15 game at TIAA Bank Field
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
- Wow.Wow. Wow. Wow. Sunday was memorable. And dramatic. And important. And really cool. And crazy. Use any adjective for fun you want, it fits for the Jaguars' wild and potentially season-defining victory Sunday. Make no mistake: Sunday in a very real sense absolutely defines the Jaguars' turnaround in recent weeks. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence played big and made game-changing plays – and yet again showed he's on his way to becoming special and elite. The Jaguars' defense for a second consecutive week played a bend-but-don't-break style – overcoming adversity to make the biggest play of the game and maybe the season when safety Rayshawn Jenkins caught Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott's deflected pass and returned the interception 52 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 6:52 remaining in overtime. It was the first walk-off defensive touchdown for the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field in the franchise's 28-year history, and Sunday's game, therefore, goes on the Mount Rushmore of all-time franchise victories. Here's what makes it really matter: It came in a game with very real playoff implications and means games moving forward will have the same implication. Something else also became clear Sunday: Football is fun again at the 'Bank, and it appears likely it will be that way for a long time.
- This Cardiac Jags thing is real.Something intriguing about Sunday: While the Jaguars' comeback from a 17-point third-quarter deficit was impressive, it wasn't all that surprising or unusual. The Jaguars have won four of six games to play their way into serious contention for the AFC South title, and they have come from behind in all four victories – overcoming 17-point deficits against Dallas and the Las Vegas Raiders, a nine-point deficit against the Baltimore Ravens and two seven-point deficits against the Tennessee Titans. Remember, too: Three of those teams – the Ravens, Cowboys and Titans – are above .500 and the Cowboys entered Sunday on a four-game winning streak. The Ravens entered the loss to Jacksonville on a four-game winning streak. The Jaguars are beating good, contending teams – and overcoming adversity to do it. "Early in the year we kind of had to prove to each other that we could win no matter what the situation is," Lawrence said. "We've got more and more confidence as the season has gone on that no matter what kind of hole we're in we're going to find a way out of it." Remember all the talk early in the season about learning to win? The Jaguars learned. They're winning. And they're very deservingly in the postseason conversation as Christmas approaches.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
- How many times did you think that win was a loss? When the Jaguars were down 21-7 at halftime? How about when Prescott found wide receiver Noah Brown in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with just over three minutes left? When Lawrence fumbled with less than two minutes to play, I thought it was done. Some folks will tell you they lost hope when the offense went three and out to start overtime – and felt it was a done deal when the Cowboys had it at their 40-yard line and needed 20 yards for the game-winning field goal attempt. I guess after the Minnesota Vikings rallied from 33-0 down to beat the Indianapolis Colts in Minneapolis Saturday, I shouldn't have doubted. But it has been so long since the Jaguars won one of these really important games that I did. I was writing already writing our script for Monday's Jaguars Drive Time in overtime; "Big Thing One" was going to be "Gut-wrenching fun." It was a fun game – a really entertaining game and on a big stage. Luckily for the Jaguars, it's the Cowboys who have that gut-wrenching feeling right now.
- This isn't a great defense.The Jaguars' defense on Sunday at times didn't look like it was a good unit, either. But the defense made a couple of plays here and there – and it feels like that's the formula for winning in today's NFL. There are a few really good defenses, but most bend until finally someone makes a play. The Jaguars did just that Sunday. Inside linebacker Foye Oluokun made that third down stop on running back Tony Pollard at the end of the first half that kept the Cowboys from adding to their already big lead. Then Jenkins came up with his first interception, which the Jags turned into a touchdown. Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris had a huge tackle on the first play of the fourth quarter that forced a Cowboys punt and the Jaguars scored on the next drive to take the lead. How about lineman Dawuane Smoot's tackle for a loss on the first play of the drive after Lawrence's fourth-quarter fumble followed by lineman Corey Peters and cornerback Darious Williams making plays on second and third down to get the ball back to the offense for the game-tying drive? And, of course, Jenkins' game-winning interception return. They're not the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 2000 Baltimore Ravens – or even the current-day San Francisco 49ers— but the Jaguars' defense has been good enough for three wins in the last four weeks and to help guide the Jaguars into an improbable playoff chance.
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