The Jaguars threw two interceptions in the final two minutes of a game they were trailing … and won.
They lost their long snapper and needed their fill-in left guard to snap on two critical field goals … and won.
They committed a season-high 106 yards in penalties, including two taunting calls … and won.
They saw their franchise tailback held to 1.9 yards per carry … and won.
They played Philip Rivers … and won.
As if the first half of the season didn’t signal a different time for the Jaguars, Sunday’s 20-17 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers was perhaps the most telling sign.
The Jaguars had nowhere near their best stuff in the pass rushing (no sacks), pass protecting (three sacks allowed), discipline (the aforementioned penalties), run game (Leonard Fournette was neutralized), third down (5 of 18) and quarterback decision making (two late-game interceptions by Blake Bortles) departments.
And it didn’t matter.
Cornerback A.J. Bouye intercepted Rivers in overtime and returned it 51 yards to the Chargers’ 2 to set up Josh Lambo’s 30-yard field goal with 3:12 left in overtime. Having lost Matt Overton to a dislocated shoulder, guard/center Tyler Shatley had to make the snap.
The game lasted three hours, 43 minutes and the teams combined for 148 plays from scrimmage. It only seemed like there were that many turning points. The Jaguars finally won a close game (their first five wins were by 22, 37, 21, 27 and 16 pts).
They finally won in overtime, breaking a streak of six consecutive OT defeats.
And they finally beat Rivers, who had sliced and diced them for years.
“To come back and win this game shows our growth,” nose tackle Abry Jones said. “For so long, we were called a young team and hadn’t won a lot of games where we dug ourselves a hole and faced adversity.”
The Jaguars never trailed by more than eight points (14-6), but the offensive struggles made the deficit seem semi-insurmountable.
“There were penalties, turnovers – all kinds of stuff,” Bortles said. “In years past, this team wasn’t able to overcome that and it shows the type of locker room and type of team we have and how different it is.”
Different is the operative word. This season is unlike any of the past decade. They don’t cave under their mistakes. They don’t buckle with the game on the line. They don’t refuse to take the game when the opponent is in a giving mood.
The Jaguars are 6-3 for the first time since 2007 and have won three in a row for the first time since 2013. Tennessee beat Cincinnati so the Titans and Jaguars remain tied atop the AFC South. The Jaguars hold the fifth seed in the AFC.
The Jaguars and Titans seem on a collision course for Dec. 31 and a fight for the division title.
A boxing guy, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone walked to the post-game podium looking like he had been hit with a series of upper-cuts, jabs and hooks … while not wearing a mouth-piece.
“I’m exhausted,” Marrone said. “I’m shot.”
The Jaguars’ chances appeared exhausted and shot in the final two minutes of regulation.
Trailing 17-14, Bortles was intercepted by Tre Boston at the Chargers’ 42 with 1:51 remaining. It was Bortles’ first interception since Week 6 against the Rams. But it wasn’t his last of the day.
Malik Jackson forced Austin Ekeler to fumble on the ensuing possession and the Jaguars took over at the Chargers’ 36 after Tashaun Gipson’s fumble return for a touchdown was reversed by replay.
The game appeared over when Bortles threw off his back foot into the teeth of the Chargers’ secondary and was easily intercepted by Boston with 1:24 remaining.
“It [stinks] and you sit there and all you can think about is, ‘Why would you throw that?’ ” Bortles said. “You want it back and you want a do-over.”
The do-over came after the Chargers went three-and-out. The Jaguars had 58 seconds and no timeouts and started at their 48. Bortles threw six yards to receiver Allen Hurns, who injured his ankle and crawled off the field so the Jaguars wouldn’t be penalized 10 seconds.
“That speaks not only to his toughness but how smart of a player he is,” Bortles said.
A silly penalty on Joey Bosa (roughing the passer) provided 15 free yards and Lambo – with Shatley on the snap – was good from 34 yards with three seconds left.
The Jaguars drove to the Los Angeles 47 before punting in overtime. Bouye’s interception set the stage for Lambo’s winner, which fluttered through the uprights after being partially blocked.
In previous years, that partial block would have been just enough to force a miss. But this isn’t like previous years. The Jaguars proved that again.
“In the past we’ve lost games like this,” Colvin said. “To be able to go out there and battle through so much, it was huge for us to win a game like this.”