JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — During training camp, new Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson introduced the team to a philosophy endorsed by motivational speaker and former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, a worldview in one word: “Good.”

“When things go wrong, don’t get discouraged,” Willink has said. “Do not get frustrated. No, just look at the problem and say, ‘Okay.’

It is a philosophy that turns challenge into opportunity, that places a spark of positivity at the center of desolation. It’s supposed to spark hope even in the most dire circumstances, like being down 27 points in a win-or-go-home playoff game, for example.

Trevor Lawrence was pretty much as low as a man can get on a football field, having thrown four interceptions that helped contribute to that four-possession deficit. He projected an image of calm, but inside he was at war with himself. Lawrence, who once played 41 games in high school without losing, and then another 29 in college, knew his team needed him to get ahead, but he couldn’t stop shooting the ball at goal. chargers‘ hands.

So when a lineman walked up to Lawrence and said simply, “Okay,” Lawrence’s first instinct was to ignore him, thinking, it’s not the moment.

But it turned out that Lawrence spend the rest of the game being very good indeed.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 14: Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence #16 dives for a two-point conversion during the AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Los Angeles Chargers at TIAA Bank Field on the 14th January 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida.  The Jaguars defeated the Chargers 31-30. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

The Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence dives for a 2-point conversion that cut a deficit of as many as 27 points to 2 in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s AFC wild-card game against the Chargers. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

Trevor Lawrence: ‘There are no 27-point plays’

For most of the first half, the only happy Jaguars fan in all of TIAA Bank Field was the heavily tattooed gentleman bobbing merrily, and all alone, in one of the pools atop the end zone of the stadium. Yes, he had seen Lawrence shoot four, four! – Interceptions in the first half, but at least he was in a heated pool while the rest of the stadium shivered in sub-40 degree temperatures.

Lawrence’s problems started early, as first career playoff berth early. the Chargers joey bosa threw the pass on the line, and Drue Tranquill he caught it in the air. Two plays later justin herbert led the Chargers into the end zone. Less than 90 seconds into the game, Los Angeles was up 7-0.

It got worse, much worse. Another errant pass from Lawrence, another interception, then another, and another. The Jaguars first six possessions were NSFW: interception, interception, punt, interception, punt, interception and then a muffed punt. That’s five turnovers the Chargers built for a 27-0 lead with 4:25 remaining in the first half.

Jacksonville might be the only stadium that still proudly plays Limp Bizkit and receives a welcome response; down four possessions, Jaguars fans had to cheer what they could. Lawrence started the eighth possession of the Jacksonville half at midfield, and by then Jaguars fans were looking through his fingers and the rest of the NFL world was wondering how bad this would get. Would Lawrence surpass Brett Favre’s Super Bowl-era playoff record of six steals? Would the Jaguars realize they were wrong to fire Urban Meyer? Would the franchise go to London once and for all at halftime? For God’s sake, the Jaguars weren’t going to let Lawrence throw anymore, were they?

In the group, Lawrence looked at his teammates. “There are no 27-point plays,” he said. “We have to make this play at the same time.”

And then he did exactly that. 12-yard pass to Travis Etienne on the right side. A 4-yard pass to christian kirk On the left. A 12-yard pass to Marvin Jones Jr. in the center of the field. And then a 5-yarder for Evan Engram in the end zone. Just like that, the Jaguars were on the board and running to the locker room with a touch of hope.

“I just needed to settle in. We couldn’t get any momentum, we couldn’t get any momentum,” Lawrence said. “I knew once we got our momentum back, we’d been in that situation before.”

“Everyone rallied around him, everyone rallied around each other,” Marvin Jones Jr. said in the locker room after the game. “It was a great talk on the sidelines. It was never finger pointing, it was never, ‘Oh my gosh. Rather, ‘I know this is not going to happen.’”

Undefeated in Saturday football

In the second half, like the Jaguars’ lone swimmer across the field, the Chargers found themselves in a bind and, like the proverbial frog, did not realize the danger they were in until it was too hot to escape. Lawrence transformed from a failed attempting embarrassment into the graceful, confident yardage machine he had been for the second half of the season.

“Once we picked up the pace, we started to get our look and win one-on-ones,” Jones said. “I feel like we could take on anyone and be successful.”

The numbers don’t always tell the story, but these do: Lawrence threw four interceptions and then four touchdowns. His passing rate in the first half was 24.5; in the second half, 144.5. It was a miniature version of the Jaguars’ entire season: They lost five of their first six, then won their last five to reach the playoffs on the final weekend of the season.

“He kind of epitomizes our season,” Lawrence said. “We are never out of it. When you believe and everyone believes, it’s great what you can achieve.”

After this miracle 31-30 victory, the future of the Jaguars now looks as bright as the dazzling teal that dominates their stadium. Lawrence moved up a notch against the Chargers, establishing himself as one of the AFC quarterbacks of the future to watch. He is undefeated on Saturdays in high school, college and the pros, though none of those wins were as tough as this one. At 23, he is the undisputed leader of the Jaguars locker room, proving it in the most definitive way possible.

“When you see him not blinking and going out there and risking it all,” Kirk said, “it’s easy to get behind a guy like that.”

Raucous scene in Jacksonville

In the minutes after Riley PattersonThe game-winning field goal, as the delirious Jaguars walked off the field into the hallway below the stadium, team owner Shad Khan, dressed in a white sports jacket and black pants, waved and hugged the players and coaches. Shouts and screams filled the air, some wordless, some profane, all exultant. linebacker Shaquille Quartermaster he was carrying a huge Jaguar flag, probably borrowed from a cheerleader.

“Do you believe in miracles?” someone yelled, probably not realizing that the man who had made that classic call 43 years ago was a few floors above them, and had just announced his victory as well. This wasn’t a gold medal game, but it felt as good as any win in Jacksonville in a long time.

“Typical of us, huh?” Jones laughed. “We know how to throw a good party.”

“It’s easy to say afterwards, but you don’t win a game like that if you don’t believe in yourself,” Lawrence said. “Proud of this group, of this city. Special night for a lot of people, and I’m thankful for everyone who played a part in it.”

The Jaguars now await the outcome of the rest of the games this weekend. If the Ravens and Dolphins can get over the loss of their starting quarterbacks and pull off an upset on Sunday, Jacksonville will host Baltimore next week. Otherwise, the Jaguars will head to Buffalo or Kansas City. For Jacksonville, all possible options are good.

Trevor Lawrence rejoiced in a miraculous victory on Saturday night.  (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

Trevor Lawrence rejoiced in a miraculous victory on Saturday night. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)


Contact Jay Busbee at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

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