Jaguars vs. Chargers score, takeaways: Trevor Lawrence leads 27-point comeback to earn historic playoff win

The Jacksonville Jaguars came back from down 27-0 to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers on Super Wild Card Weekend, 31-30. After a rough start, Trevor Lawrence and the Jags embarked on a 24-3 second-half run, completing the comeback with a 36-yard field goal from Riley Patterson as time expired. It marked the third-largest comeback in NFL postseason history.

It was a tale of two halves for the Jaguars, and Lawrence had about as rough of a first half as one could have. On his first 16 passing attempts, the quarterback completed four to his teammates, and four to the Chargers. The former no. 1 overall pick was intercepted four times in the first half — three being recorded by Asante Samuel Jr. Lawrence became the fifth quarterback to throw three interceptions in a playoff quarter since 1991, but he was the first to do it in a first quarter. However, Lawrence came out of halftime rejuvenated.

Lawrence led three straight touchdown drives, the last of which included a two-point conversion to trim the deficit to just two points with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. After the Jaguars defense forced a three-and-out, Lawrence got a chance to write his own ending. With the game on the line, he led the offense 61 yards down the field on 10 plays, setting up Patterson to send the ball through the uprights as the clock hit triple zeros.

Lawrence ended up completing 28 of 47 passes for 288 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, while his college teammate Travis Etienne Jr. rushed for 109 yards on 20 carries. Evan Engram was the Jaguars’ leading receiver with 93 yards and one touchdown on seven catches. Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Marvin Jones Jr also caught touchdowns in the win.

As for the Chargers, Justin Herbert completed 25 of 43 passes for 273 yards and one touchdown. Austin Ekeler was largely ineffective, as he rushed for 35 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries. Gerald Everett led the Chargers in receiving with 109 yards and one touchdown on six receptions.

So, what in the world happened in this game? Let’s take a look.

Why the Jaguars won

Short memory. It’s something all quarterbacks need to be successful. But how can you have a short memory after throwing four first-half interceptions?

Have we ever seen this before in the NFL? A quarterback who looks like he needs to be benched turns it around, and is almost flawless in the second half. On Lawrence’s first seven drives, he completed 5 of 18 passes for 35 yards and four interceptions. On his last five drives, he completed 23 of 29 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns. It was remarkable.

Lawrence’s turnaround will be what’s talked about from this game, but the rest of the Jaguars deserve credit as well. The offense went as its quarterback did, as Engram, Etienne and others made important plays down the stretch. And then the defense played aggressively in the second half, stopping the Chargers on three out of their four drives.

At the same time, should we even be surprised the Jaguars pulled off this comeback? They have now done this in their last five homes games.

  • In Week 9 against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Jags fell behind by 17 points. Jacksonville came back to win.
  • In Week 12 against the Baltimore Ravens, the Jags fell behind by nine points. Jacksonville came back to win.
  • In Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys, the Jags fell behind by 17 points. Jacksonville came back to win.
  • In Week 18 against the Tennessee Titans, the Jags fell behind by 10 points. Jacksonville came back to win.
  • In the AFC wild-card round against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Jags fell behind by 27 points. Jacksonville came back to win.

It was always the Jags!

Why the Chargers lost

The Chargers looked like the better team in the first half. The offense scored points on four of its first five possessions, while the defense forced five turnovers. The “turnovers” statistic is of course the headliner, but the Chargers defense did a great job of making Lawrence uncomfortable, and then standing tall on third down. The Jags went 0-for-7 on third downs in the first two quarters! So, what happened?

LA lost its way in the second half. The Chargers played not to lose the game as opposed to playing to win the contest — which ultimately ended their season. Defensively, the Chargers took away all routes underneath and kept pressure on Lawrence for the majority of the first half. However, that same unit played on its heels the entire second half, allowing the Jaguars offense to score points on all four of their possessions following the halftime break.

Offensively, it wasn’t any better. Herbert threw for just 134 yards and zero touchdowns in the second half, while Ekeler didn’t gain a single yard on the ground in the final two quarters. The offense scored just three points in the second half compared to the 27 they scored in the first half. Just look at their drive charts after halftime:

  • 7 plays, 37 yards, punt (2:32)
  • 7 plays, 45 yards, field goal (2:13)
  • 14 plays, 58 yards, missed field goal (6:57)
  • 3 plays, 5 yards, punt (2:16)

This was a major collapse in more ways than one. No one play or decision decides the outcome of a game, but we would be remiss if we did not mention the Joey Bosa penalty. The star pass rusher slammed his helmet to the ground and drew a flag after Lawrence hit Christian Kirk for a touchdown to trim the lead to four points. That penalty made it easy for Pederson to go for two, and Lawrence punched it in himself to cut the lead to two points. Ultimately, that’s what made Patterson’s field goal a game winning field goal five minutes later.

Turning point/Play of the game

Pederson called the “Philly Special” in Super Bowl LII for the Philadelphia Eagles. Saturday, he called the “Duval Special” — from the “T!” While the play was nowhere near as flashy as the “Philly Special,” it set the Jaguars up for their game-winning field goal.

Facing a fourth-and-1 with 1:28 remaining in the game, Pederson lined up three players next to each other behind Lawrence. In today’s NFL, pushing the QB from behind on a sneak has become common. It was fair to assume that was what was about to happen, but instead, Pederson dialed up a sweep to Etienne!

This play went for 25 yards, and virtually won the game for Jacksonville.

what’s next

If there are no AFC upsets Sunday, the Jaguars will be slated to play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead next weekend. The Chiefs defeated the Jaguars, 27-17, earlier this season in Week 10. As for the Chargers, they will now turn their attention to the offseason.

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