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Wild Card, Wild Comeback: Jaguars erase 27-point deficit to stun Chargers in playoffs

Jacksonville made a comeback for the ages in the second half to eliminate the Chargers from the playoffs

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars played host to the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night for an AFC Wild Card matchup in the NFL playoffs, and it was a “wild” game, indeed. The Jaguars erased a 27-point deficit to defeat the Chargers by a final score of 31-30.

The AFC South-champion Jaguars will advance to the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs next week.

The first half was an absolute nightmare for the Jaguars. Jacksonville received the ball to start the game, but two plays into the drive, quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s pass was tipped multiple times before Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill intercepted the ball.

Los Angeles took over at Jacksonville’s 18-yard line. The Chargers took immediate advantage of the turnover and field position, finding the end zone two plays later.

A 13-yard scamper by running back Austin Ekeler and an extra point by kicker Cameron Dicker put the Chargers up 7-0 early in the first quarter.

Jacksonville got the ball back and moved downfield by driving 42 yards in nine plays before disaster struck again for the Jaguars. Jacksonville marched down to L.A.’s 33-yard line before Lawrence’s pass was intercepted once again.

On a fourth-down-and-7 play, Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. got his first of three interceptions on the night (all in the first half).

Following the pick, the Chargers put together a 12-play 57-yard drive that ended in a field goal. Dicker’s kick was good from 22 yards out, which made the score 10-0 with 5:30 left to play in the first half.

The teams then traded three-and-outs and punts before yet another turnover for the Jaguars. Lawrence threw his third interception of the first quarter, and Samuel recorded his second pick of the night.

The interception set L.A. up deep into Jacksonville’s territory as the Chargers took over at the Jaguars’ 16-yard line. Three plays later, Ekeler sprinted into the end zone from six yards out for his second touchdown of the night. This put the Chargers up 17-0 late in the first quarter.

Jacksonville proceeded to go three-and-out and immediately punted the ball back to Los Angeles. The Chargers found the scoreboard once again, driving 62 yards in 11 plays.

The possession ended on a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Hebert to tight end Gerald Everett. The Chargers took a commanding 24-0 lead with 7:12 remaining in the second quarter.

The Jaguars got the ball back, and three plays later, Lawrence threw yet another interception — his fourth of the first half. Impressively, it was Samuel’s third and final pick of the night.

This time, the Jacksonville defense held Los Angeles to a three-and-out. However, just when it seemed like it couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Jaguars, things got wacky.

A punt by JK Scott bounced off of Jaguars cornerback Chris Claybrooks’ head, becoming a live ball, which was recovered by L.A. at Jacksonville’s 6-yard line.

Despite the excellent field position for the Chargers, the Jaguars would hold defensively.

Jacksonville only allowed one yard on three plays, and L.A. ultimately settled for a 23-yard field goal from Dicker. The Chargers took a 27-0 lead with 4:25 to play.

Following a couple of punts, Jacksonville got the ball back late in the first half and finally found the end zone. The Jaguars moved 47 yards in seven plays, taking just 1:25 off of the clock, before Lawrence found tight end Evan Engram on a nine-yard touchdown pass.

At halftime, the Chargers led 27-7.

The second half went much better for the Jaguars. Los Angeles received the ball to open the third quarter, but eventually punted it away.

The Jaguars then put together a long, 14-play drive that spanned 89 yards. The exclamation point was put on the possession on a six-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal from Lawrence to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr.

After that score, the Chargers led 27-14 with 5:11 left to play in the third quarter.

Los Angeles then added a long field goal on its next possession as Dicker drilled a 50-yard kick through the uprights to give the Chargers a 30-14 lead with 2:58 remaining in the third quarter.

Jacksonville received the ball back and quickly drove 68 yards in just five plays to score once again. Lawrence found wide receiver Zay Jones wide open on a 39-yard touchdown pass.

The Jaguars elected to go for the two-point conversion, but it was no good. The Chargers led 30-20 with 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Los Angeles then drove the ball 58 yards and broke into Jacksonville’s territory, getting all the way down to the Jaguars’ 22-yard line. However, the drive broke down and Dicker missed a 40-yard field goal attempt.

The Jaguars took over and moved 70 yards in nine plays before finding the end zone again. Lawrence hit wide receiver Christian Kirk on a nine-yard touchdown pass. Jacksonville’s two-point conversion attempt was good on a quarterback sneak from Lawrence.

All of a sudden, the Chargers’ lead was at just two points, 30-28, with 5:25 to play.

Los Angeles’ next drive ended in a punt, giving the Jaguars the chance to win the game. That is exactly what Jacksonville did.

Taking possession of the ball with 3:09 remaining, the Jaguars marched 61 yards in 10 plays, and took every second off of the clock. With three seconds remaining, kicker Riley Patterson was called on to attempt a 36-yard field goal.

Patterson made the game-winning kick and lifted the Jaguars to an epic comeback victory by a final score of 31-30.

The 27-point comeback victory was the third-largest in the history of the NFL playoffs. The Jaguars did not lead throughout the entire game until there was 0:00 left on the clock.

Jacksonville’s AFC Divisional round opponent will be determined after the results of Sunday’s playoff games.