What a difference a half makes.
The Jacksonville Jaguars trailed 27-to-0 in the first half of their AFC Wild Card matchup, but rallied in the second half to defeat the LA Chargers, 31-30, in the third greatest comeback in NFL Playoff history.
Trevor Lawrence, the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, overcame four first-half interceptions, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Justin Herbert, starting in his first career playoff game, threw for 273 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
The victory sends the Jaguars to the divisional round where they will face the Kansas City, Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, or Cincinnati Bengals.
Two plays into the game, Lawrence threw an interception to Drue Tranquill, and the Chargers would capitalize on the turnover with a 13-yard touchdown run by Austin Ekeler two plays later. Ekeler would run for two touchdowns in the game.
Lawrence then threw three more interceptions, all to Asante Samuel Jr., as the Jaguars turned the ball over a total of five times in the game, without recovering one themselves.
Trailing 27-0 just before the end of the first half, the Jaguars began to chip away at the Chargers lead. Lawrence found receiver Evan Engram just before the break for the Jaguars first score.
That touchdown proved to be a momentum changer, as the Jaguars would go on to outscore the Chargers 24-3 in the second half, mounting one of the most ferocious rallies in history.
Lawrence finished with 288 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions.
The victory caps off a tremendous turnaround season for the Jaguars. Jacksonville went 3-14 in a tumultuous and drama-filled freshman season for Lawrence. First-year NFL head coach Urban Meyer was fired halfway through the year and the Jaguars hired former Super Bowl Champion coach Doug Pederson in the offseason.
The change at head coach proved to be all the Jaguars needed for a fresh-start in 2022. After starting the year 3-7, Jacksonville won six of their last seven games, to win the AFC South and host a first-round playoff game.
Meanwhile, the epic collapse brings a disappointing end to a season that seemed so full of promise for the Chargers. Led by Herbert, the Chargers made the playoffs for the first time since the 2018 season, and were a favorite to upset the Jaguars in the Wild Card round.
Cameron Dicker gave the Chargers a 30-14 lead midway through the third quarter when he converted a 50-yard field goal. But the Chargers would be shutout from there, and after back-to-back touchdown passes from Lawrence, Herbert and the Chargers went three-and-out, on their final drive.
The Jaguars completed a 10-play, 61-yard game-winning drive when Riley Patterson sent a 36-yard field goal as time expired through the uprights to give the Jaguars the shocking victory.
According to Next Gen Stats, the Jaguars were given just a 1.2 percent chance of winning after they trailed 27-0 with a little over three minutes remaining in the second quarter.
It’s the largest postseason comeback since Tom Brady and the New England Patriots famously rallied from a 28-3 first half deficit to the Atlanta Falcons in the 2017 Super Bowl.
The only two greater comebacks than the Jaguars on Saturday night came from the Indianapolis Colts (28 points) in 2014, and the Buffalo Bills famous 32-point comeback over the Houston Oilers in 1993.
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Source: NBC Los Angeles