JACKSONVILLE – Boy, did the Jaguars need this.
Must win …
Response game …
Season turner …
Whatever you called it, the Jaguars' game against the New York Jets Sunday sure felt important as it approached – and winning it sure felt important despite the not-as-giddy-as-you-might-expect aftermath of the 31-12 Jaguars' victory in front of 65,353 at TIAA Bank Field.
"It felt needed," Jaguars safety Barry Church said.
You bet it did.
How big was Sunday for the Jaguars? A couple of ways to think about that one:
One way was how players and coaches saw it. All week, they talked about the need to reach 2018's quarter pole with a 3-1 record. That's Head Coach Doug Marrone's goal for each quarter of each season, because accomplishing that goal assures a team will finish no worse than 12-4.
Goal accomplished for the first quarter of 2018.
"Of course, we would like to be 4-0, but we're in a good position right now," cornerback Jalen Ramsey said.
The second way to think about Sunday was this: this was a way to put last week's 9-6 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the rear view. Players and coaches didn't overemphasize that theme this past week, but it sure felt big in that sense.
No way did this team want to lose to consecutive games at home.
Heck, no way did the Jaguars want to lose a second consecutive game, period. On that front, defensive end/leader Calais Campbell called Sunday "very important."
"Good teams don't lose two in a row," Campbell said. "We had the mentality we were going to have to win the game no matter what happened. We had some ugly plays, and things didn't go our way at times. It was big for us to be able to overcome that and still get the W."
Let's pause here for some perspective, because the thought here is that last quote from Campbell is important because it reflected what a lot of players were saying in the locker room – that there was an overall sense of dissatisfaction on the Jaguars part with what took place Sunday.
There darned sure was a sense of dissatisfaction from Head Coach Doug Marrone, who seemed perhaps a bit more dissatisfied than his usual dissatisfied self. He seemed this way to such an extent that a reporter told him he seemed a bit "beaten up" during his post-game comments.
Marrone agreed with the assessment.
"Yeah, I'm beaten up; I am beaten up," he said after a game in which the Jaguars committed three second-half turnovers and committed nine penalties overall for 89 yards. "I am because I know – like I told the players – you get penalties and turnovers you're not … it's going to … we've got to stop doing [that]. You aren't going to continue to keep playing games if you do that. That's gut. That's analytics. That's everything.
"Am I happy to win? Absolutely. Three and one in the first quarter? I'll take it. Now we've got to get ready to go. We've got a lot to do. We've got to get better."
If you want a quote to sum up how the Jaguars felt after Sunday, wrap that quote, frame it – and Tweet it out for all the world to see.
The Jaguars absolutely are happy to be 3-1. They're in great position after four games, and they have shown they have the ability to be really good. And Sunday absolutely showed that. At the same time, there's an overwhelming feeling that that they must improve to get to where they want to go.
"I'm happy that we got the win, but I'm not going to sit here and act all happy go lucky," Ramsey said. "We've got to play better. We know we can play better."
They indeed can, and that's perhaps the most encouraging thing for the Jaguars about Sunday. The Jaguars lost the turnover battle, 3-0. They gave the Jets nine points on short field. They dropped at least two interceptions and had another called back by penalty.
And yet, there were the Jaguars dominating to the point that they had 503 yards to 178 for the Jets …
And there was quarterback Blake Bortles with a second near-400-yard-passing game in three weeks…
And there were wide receivers Donte Moncrief and Dede Westbrook each going over 100 yards receiving …
And there was the Jaguars' defense turning in a fourth dominant performance in as many games …
That last part is what gives this team hope for a second consecutive AFC South title, a deep playoff run. The defense was supposed to be good, maybe great. It's playing like it – and that bodes well for this team.
Sunday's big-time response at the Bank bodes well for this team, too. The Jaguars needed a victory against the Jets. Even it maybe wasn't perfect they got it – and got it comfortable fashion.
That made Sunday important. Whatever you called it.