Our friends around SB Nation are asking those “What if?” questions about pivotal moments in their favorite team’s history. What if Carson Palmer never blew out his knee? What if Jim Harbaugh didn’t leave the San Francisco 49ers?
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, it’s easy...
What if Myles Jack wasn’t down?
The New England Patriots were driving at the beginning of the fourth quarter. They called a double pass — from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola and then Danny Amendola to Dion Lewis. It was a smart time to call that play as it caught the Jaguars’ defense off guard and allowed Lewis to run untouched for 20 yards until... well, until Myles Jack happened.
Jack punched Lewis’ right hand carrying the ball. As Lewis was falling to the ground, he tried to regain control but the ball was clearly unpossessed and Jack scooped up the ball and was called down.
But what if Jack wasn’t down? Unless he trips himself up, all 11 Patriots players are behind him as he runs down the right sideline. The score is 27-10 with a little over 13 minutes to play and the Patriots are forced to score three times to take back the lead.
Up until this point, the Patriots had held possession for 17:08 and run 40 plays for a total of 260 yards. That’s an average of about 25.5 seconds of game clock expired and 6.5 yards gained per play.
If we factor in that the Jaguars’ offense would be just as productive as they actually were in the game (i.e. not at all) we can figure on an average of 4.0 plays per drive that take about 30 seconds off the game clock a piece, scoring zero points.
Let’s go through this drive by drive.
Patriots down by 17. They start at the 25-yard line and put together a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that takes 5:06 off the clock. They kick the extra point. 7:54 remains in the game.
Jaguars up by 10. They start at the 25-yard line and put together a 3-play, 6-yard drive that takes 1:30 off the clock. They punt. 6:24 remains in the game.
Patriots down by 10. They start at the 25-yard line and put together a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that takes 5:06 off the clock. They kick the extra point. 1:18 remains in the game.
Jaguars up by 3. They start at the 25-yard line and put together a 3-play, 6-yard drive that takes just 18 seconds off the clock since the Patriots have all three of their time outs. They punt. 1:00 remains in the game.
Patriots down by 3. They start at the 25-yard line. They have an average time of 25.5 seconds per play. They are averaging 6.5 yards per play. They get to their own 45-yard line as time expires.
Taking in averages, it doesn’t look good. Obviously, Brady is going to run a much quicker offense and stop the clock more often on these drives, but back-to-back touchdown drives spanning the length of the field in just over five minutes a piece is... not likely.
So, in answer to my question, if Jack isn’t down the Jaguars win the game and go to their first Super Bowl.