Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.
The Jacksonville Jaguars claw their way to a lead against a team that’s not better than they are. They leave a few minutes on the clock and all the team has to do is put together one more series — get a field goal, get a stop on defense, whatever it is they need to get it done.
And they can’t.
That’s been the story of this Jacksonville team for years. They just can’t close.
They can’t stop Tom Brady on 3rd-and-18.
They can’t score more than field goals against the Tennessee Titans.
They can’t get a stop against Ben Roethlisberger at home.
They can’t get out of their own away against the Buffalo Bills.
And yesterday looked much of the same. The Denver Broncos were up 17-3 late in the second quarter. Joe Flacco looked like Joe Montana picking on undrafted free agent Tre Herndon. This was turning into their get right game.
Until the break, when the frequently mocked “halftime adjustments” that were always needed but never came would need to happen.
Except... they did. I say without hyperbole that the Jaguars team that took the field in the third quarter looked like a completely different team. Offensive linemen were opening holes for Leonard Fournette. Gardner Minshew scrambled in the pocket like Brett Favre. The offense took a remarkable 10:24 off the clock to start the second half on 16 plays — the longest play in franchise history since 1998.
And then the defense forced a three and out.
And then another one.
And then a punt.
But then a visage of the ghosts of Jaguar past came back. With 2:54 left in the fourth quarter, Flacco completed passes of 16 yards, 27 yards, and 27 yards to get the ball within shouting distance of the end zone. And then he threw a touchdown.
1:32 left. Down by one. The offense had played better than you could have hoped — 23 points and nearly 38 minutes of time of possession is as good a contribution as an NFL defense could hope to have. Minshew goes out and has the first pass popped up in the air for a near interception as he’s hit below the knees. And on the next play a roughing the passer penalty is called on the defense, but Minshew fumbled it. The fumble didn’t really matter but still...
Here come our Jaguars, right?
Minshew threw a dart to Dede Westbrook on an out route — and Westbrook rumbled and bumbled and stumbled another 15 yards to the cacophony of Jaguars defenders cheering him on along the sideline.
Then he threw another dart to Chris Conley for 17 more yards.
And after a few runs mixed in with a holding penalty, Josh Lambo came in for the game winning 33 yard field goal. He made it. Time has expired. Jubilation. Cheers. Disbelief. Astonishment. Yesterday, against all odds, we did something different — we finally snatched victory from the claws of defeat.
Because for many years, it was usually it’s the other way around.