The Jaguars (5-9) were able to come-from-behind to secure a 20-16 victory against the Oakland Raiders (6-8) in the Raiders’ final home game in Oakland prior to moving to Las Vegas for the 2020 season and beyond.
While the Jaguars needed the victory more than ever coming off of five-straight blowout losses, the win had special meaning. Able to say they last team to win in Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum meant a lot to a young and hungry Jaguars roster that was desperate for any sort of validation — at least in the eyes of spectators.
After the game, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone reflected on what it meant to win at the Coliseum. Marrone has fond memories of coaching in Oakland as an assistant on the New York Jets and was drafted by the then-Los Angeles Raiders in 1986. Seeing the Hall of Famers on the sideline brought those memories to the forefront.
“If you love football and you are a football historian, which I am, there is a lot of great things,” Marrone said after the game. I kept thinking that Mr. Davis was somewhere watching this game. I was very fortunate to have a really good relationship with him near the end when I was the head coach at Syracuse.”
Oakland has never been an easy place to win, and the Jaguars were able to squeeze out a victory in the final moments of the game. Getting a victory with their backs against the wall with no shot at the playoffs was of the upmost importance for this team.
“It has been awful, terrible an adjective that you really can’t even describe what it feels like,” Marrone said on the team’s five-game losing streak. “When you put in all the time, all the work, it is same for the players and support staff and everyone around. The chance to just take a deep breath and know to keep working to keep fighting and you get a win and obviously it feels good. It is always good to win.
“We talked about it with our players a lot. The year hasn’t gone well for us. Today we will at least have something that you might tell your grandchildren about one day. It is a pretty good memory.”
After some first-half struggles, the Jaguars rallied in a come-from-behind victory on the back of rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II. Struggling in the first half, Minshew operated with efficiency, particularly in the fourth quarter when the quarterback completed 10 of 13 passing attempts for 88 yards and two touchdowns, including a go-ahead touchdown to receiver Chris Conley to close out the game.
Ain't over until we say it's over.@GardnerMinshew5 | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/QcA2nJnGjS— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) December 16, 2019
“Yeah, these games are the most fun,” Minshew II said after the game of the team’s comeback victory. “They suck for 90 percent of it, you feel like crap. But then you keep grinding and find a way. There’s nobody I’d rather do it with than these guys.”
The Jaguars found a way, and appeared to feed off of the momentum shift near the end of the game with the black hole squarely against them. The atmosphere, Minshew II says, was “kind of” like a college game, adding, “I probably saw more middle fingers today than I have in my whole life. These fans have a good time though and it was fun to ruin that for them.”
“It was awesome. It’s a piece of football history. Something special to be a part of. It will be an Aflac trivia question 20 years from now, so it’s definitely going to be cool to be a part of that.”
The theme of the Jaguars’ post game locker room was ‘history’. The team made history, and were excited to ultimately play the part of spoiler against one of the NFL’s most historic and remembered teams during the 100th season. While the ‘streak’ was on the spectators minds over the past several weeks, Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen says that was never the mindset of the team, noting that the team is “1-0.”
“We take it week in and week out,” Allen said in the post game locker room. “We’re extremely happy, excited and ready to get back home.”
Allen made history on Sunday by recording his 10th sack of the season, the most by a rookie in Jaguars history, along with other NFL records that includes players such as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Hearing the boos as he walked off the field, Allen saw it as a “good thing”, the Jaguars spoiled their fun, and Allen wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I mean it’s a good thing because they know they lost, you know what I’m saying?,” Allen said. “We made history. Last game here. They’re going to always remember that. I’ll let them know that. I’ll let them know that.”
The Jaguars will now head into the last two games with more confidence than they’ve had in nearly two months. Their victory in Oakland assures that, and the feeling of having a historic victory during a season of historic misery is sweet. Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones says the team “definitely needed this.”
“I told guys before we hit the field,” Jones said after the game on Sunday. “This is the 100th anniversary of the NFL. I don’t want to be sitting on the couch 20 or 30 years later, and I see us on ESPN Classic because they’re playing the last time in the Coliseum and we’re out there getting our ass beat. I told them I’m not trying to be that guy on the couch, so we made sure we came out and got that win.”