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Doug Pederson and the Jaguars used a 1940s playbook to come back and beat the Chargers

With the season hanging in the balance, Doug Pederson turned back the clock

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After the first half Saturday night, it looked like the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to see their season end at the hands of the Los Angeles Chargers. Trevor Lawrence threw four first-half interceptions, and the Jaguars trailed at the halftime break by a score of 27-7.

But in the second half, Lawrence and the Jacksonville offense got on track, and thanks to some timely plays on the defensive side of the ball, the Jaguars climbed back into the game.

And with under two minutes left, the Jaguars faced a critical 4th and 1 at the Los Angeles 41-yard line. With 1:28 left in the game, and the Jaguars trailing 30-28, they could have settled for a long field goal attempt.

Pederson, however, had a different idea.

The coach put his offense back onto the field, and pulled something out from deep in the playbook.

T-split Right, 28 Lead:

That’s right, the T-Formation.

While that might not be the exact name for this play in Jacksonville’s playbook, it was that name for it in some of the playbooks I grew up using. This formation dates back to the early days of football, and was used by teams such as Notre Dame and Oklahoma during the 1940s and 1950s. It also made its way to the NFL, with the Chicago Bears using the T-Formation during the 1930s and 1940s.

In the Bears’ fight song, Bear Down, Chicago Bears, there is even a reference to the formation: “Bear down, Chicago Bears! Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly. We’ll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T-formation.”

Returning to Saturday night, with their season on the line the Jaguars turn to the T-Formation, with Lawrence turning and handing off to Travis Etienne Jr., who picks up blocks from the other two backs in the formation, tight ends Luke Farrell and Chris Manhertz. The other critical block comes from wide receiver Zay Jones, who is split from the formation but cracks down, helping seal the edge.

That gives Etienne a lane to the outside, and the running back picks up the first down, and more.

Two plays later, Riley Patterson would split the uprights, and the Jaguars were headed to the Divisional Round.

The stunning collapse from Los Angeles might call into question Brandon Staley’s future with the team. But for now, we can celebrate the epic comeback from Jacksonville.

And the throwback design that helped seal the victory.