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View from the O-Zone: They did it


PITTSBURGH, Pa. – They did it. They really did it.

Unbelievable? Is that what they're calling what the Jaguars did Sunday?

Whatever you call it – unbelievable, exhilarating, storybook, historic – here's what happened in AFC Divisional Playoff on a very cold Sunday afternoon in front of 64,452 at Heinz Field:.

The Jaguars beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 45-42.

They did it. They really did it – and after they did it, the winners got to say a lot about the team they beat to make the AFC Championship Game for the first time in 18 seasons.

"You don't give a team that punched you in the mouth ammo to come out here and beat on you all day" defensive tackle Malik Jackson said after the Jaguars roared Straight Outta Duval and into the national consciousness Sunday afternoon.

And make no mistake:

As far as the Jaguars were concerned, the Steelers did just that all last week.

When Steelers safety Mike Mitchell talked last week about playing the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game …

When Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell tweeted about playing Round 2 against the Patriots after New England beat Tennessee Saturday night …

The Jaguars heard it. Damned right they heard it.

And was it a topic? Was it motivation?

Damned right on that front, too.

"When you tweet it out, you've got to know you're going to give a little more motivation," Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said. "Not that we needed it, but at the end of the day, it gives you a little extra motivation. When someone says stuff like that, it hits a nerve."

Campbell was asked if Head Coach Doug Marrone mentioned Bell's Tweet.

"He didn't have to," Campbell said. "Everybody saw it. In the morning at breakfast everybody was talking about it. We were like, 'OK.'''

Images form the AFC Divisional Round as the Jaguars travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.

It also gave the Jaguars full leeway to say what they wanted to say afterward.

"We came in here and socked them in the mouth, and now they can think about that the whole offseason," Jackson said, adding tongue firmly in cheek: "Can you please ask them to give us the game tape they were watching to prepare for them so that we can use it and get better. Just give us their notes. We can use them.

"They wanted us. We gave them what they wanted. Now, look at them. They're pissed they called us out."

Yes, to the victors go the spoils – and to the victors goes the right to talk.

"That was dumb," safety Barry Church said of Bell's tweet. "You don't poke a bear and that's what they did."

Yes, that's what the Steelers did, and what the Jaguars did was strut and talk their way to their biggest victory in decades. Yes, the Jaguars are cocky. They're brash.

And now they're within a game of the Super Bowl.

And you know what? Those dreams suddenly don't seem out of reach.

The Jaguars are one of four NFL teams still playing, and Sunday means they have added yet another remarkable chapter to this unbelievable Duval Dream. It also means anyone doubting this team is for real is either stubborn or stupid.

Yes, The Jaguars (12-6) – the underrated, overlooked, arrogant, chippy and suddenly very hot Jaguars – are headed to New England with the Super Bowl at stake. Whodathunkit?

The Jaguars would thunk it, that's who. They absolutely did believe and think all week they could and would do what they did Sunday. This wasn't the first time they had won in Pittsburgh, after all. The Jaguars are 5-1 in Heinz Field since 2005. They were the only team ever to win in Pittsburgh twice in one season entering Sunday, having done it in 2007. They're now certainly the only team to have done it twice.

And did they think it was possible? Did the Jaguars believe they would win?

They absolutely believed that, and they didn't see this game as an upset.

The Jaguars on Sunday won because they make big plays on defense, and they won because they managed to stay ahead of the Steelers in what surprisingly became a we-score-you-score-match-this-score game in the second half.

Here's something else significant: They won because quarterback Blake Bortles made play after play in the second half that mattered. That's not a misprint, though you wonder if his seemingly endless detractors around the NFL will acknowledge as much.

But mostly they won because deserved to win. They are as good as they are cocky, and as savvy as they are arrogant. They earned what they won Sunday.

What will happen next is anyone's guess. They must slay the dynastic beast that is New England, but they're headed to Foxboro with the best beast-slaying tools – a pass rush and elite secondary. The Patriots have been slain with such things before.

But that's a discussion for the coming week. For Sunday, what matters is this:

The Jaguars did it. They really did it.

And because they did it, they're a game away from the Super Bowl.

Maybe it is a little unbelievable.

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