JACKSONVILLE – Boy, did they need this.
That was really the feeling all day Sunday at EverBank Field, wasn't it?
We can talk all we want about what went right and what went wrong for the Jaguars – and on Sunday, a lot more went right than wrong – but the thread through everything on a sunny … nay, sweltering … afternoon at the 'Bank was that this felt big.
The Jaguars beat the Miami Dolphins, 23-20. And if you were among the 65,433 who watched the Jaguars grit and grind as the shadows moved across 'the Bank – as six p.m. turned to seven turned to seven-thirty – you couldn't not feel it.
It felt urgent. It felt critical. It felt like (shh!) a must-win.
And what do you know? On Sunday, the Jaguars went and did just that. They won. And goodness gracious that felt …
Well, it felt good.
"It was tremendous," safety Sergio Brown said.
How good did it feel?
Ask Jared Odrick. First, the veteran defensive end admitted he was lying all week when he said it wasn't a big deal to face the team that opted to not re-sign him as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason. Then, he was asked about the feeling overall.
Different from last week's season-opening loss to Carolina? Well, yeah.
"It's a whirlwind," Odrick said. "It's a total 180 of how we felt last week. That was a full game we played. We competed for 60 minutes. It was very competitive throughout. There was a lot of mental fortitude that came out both on defense and offense."
And that's exactly what it was.
This wasn't pretty. Not throughout, anyway. The Jaguars after an impressive start had to scrape, claw, gut and fight for everything throughout a hold-your-breath second half, but you know what?
It's OK to win that way. And on Sunday, it actually felt right for the Jaguars to win that way. This was about fighting toe-to-toe, about willing yourself to a victory by doing whatever had to be done.
Remember last week? When Head Coach Gus Bradley talked about the failure to overcome adversity in a 20-9 loss to Carolina? Sunday's post-game had pretty much exactly the opposite feel.
Bradley after Sunday said players and coaches talked this past week about what happened against the Panthers. Was it opening-game jitters? Whatever it was, Bradley said "we just didn't play up to our capabilities."
"We believed it in this room," Bradley said. "We believed it as a coaching staff. We believed it as a group. They came out Wednesday and went back to work. It was more, 'That's not who we were.' We talked about going out and developing a style of who we are and who we're becoming and that (the opener) wasn't us.
"It was more, 'Let's get back to doing the things we know.' I thought they had better poise throughout the whole team."
Those things are the big-picture stuff. That was the stuff from the veterans and coaches who understand just how big this game was, and that stuff mattered Sunday. But let's pause a moment to recognize a player who mattered a lot, too.
That, of course, is kicker Jason Myers.
A huge Sunday was responding to adversity. The team as a whole did it, and quarterback Blake Bortles, the receiving corps and the offensive line absolutely did, too. Speaking of adversity, what about a defense that played without its three top cornerbacks in the fourth quarter? That's gutty stuff.
Throw Myers in that group, too.
Yes, the game-winning kick with: 40 remaining was "only" 28 yards. Yes, that's supposed to be routine in the NFL. But after two makeable misses in a regular-season opener that also was his NFL debut nothing was routine for Myers Sunday.
How did he respond? By making a 58-yard field goal to end the first half, and by making all five of his kicks. He made the game-winner, too, and considering what he went through seven days ago, those were 28 difficult yards.
"Obviously there are some nerves but I kept calm all week and all day," Myers said. "I was in a good mindset and I was locked in all day."
Myers smiled when asked about sleep lost this past week.
"I lost a little bit Sunday night," Myers said. "I was just happy to get back to work and take care of everything."
That felt like a locker-room theme Sunday, and speaking of that: the locker-room feel post-game was notable. There absolutely was an appreciation for the importance of Sunday, but while there was a feeling of a job well done there was no feeling of being surprised at having done the job well. Or of having won.
"From our point of view, we expect this outcome," Bortles said. "Guys come in every week and expect to be successful and win by the end of Sunday. Obviously, we want to celebrate it and we will, but we'll move on, learn from it tomorrow and get ready for New England."
The Jaguars did more than expect to win Sunday. They lived up to those expectations on a memorable sunny day at the 'Bank, and did so in gritty, professional fashion.
And boy, did they need that.