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It was always the Jags

The Jaguars comeback was even wilder inside the stadium.

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA TODAY NETWORK

It was 27-0.

It was 27-0.

I keep typing it out, yet it still doesn’t make sense.

27.

To.

0.

There were six Jaguars turnovers in the first half, four of them interceptions by QB Trevor Lawrence. At home. In front of thousands of fans.

I was one of those fans. I Ubered to TIAA Bank Field about four hours before the game started. Music was blasting everywhere, kids tossing footballs around in the parking lots, streets sectioned off. While I was standing in line to take a photo, I met this really nice couple who came all the way from Minnesota to watch their Jaguars play. Shoot I even saw a guy in Jaguars body paint, despite it being abnormally cold.

The cold should’ve been the first sign that this game was going to be weird. I sat in the crowd as Trevor Lawrence threw INT.

After INT.

After INT.

After INT.

It wasn’t just normal INTs though. These were hilarious interceptions. Ones off tipped passes, ones that looked very clearly like pass interference but didn’t get called. Add in a turnover on punt return and we were fixing up for the “same ol’ Jags” conversation.

I had to leave my seat at 10-0 because I was of the belief that I am a hex, a source of bad juju and every time I see my favorite team play, they lose. The last game I watched on TV live was when they lost to Detroit 40-14, but this time it would be different.

This team would be different.

I know it’s a cliche to say a team is “different”, but in my 22 years of life as a Jaguars fan, I’ve seen the Jaguars quit in those games. I’ve seen them start to turn and yell at each other, I’ve seen them turtle offensively and I’ve seen Jaguars teams implode after four interceptions.

But this team is different.

They were down 27-10 midway through the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys.

They won 40-34 in OT.

They were down 27-20 with two minutes left against the Baltimore Ravens.

They won 28-27.

These Jaguars just don’t quit, and if you’re not careful, they’ll come back to bite you.

Around the second half, after the Chargers opening drive punt, you could feel the energy start to shift. Jacksonville scored before the end of the half, and despite multiple fans getting very upset (me being one of them), there was a small glimmer of hope.

The chants of “DUUUUUUUUUVVVAAAALLLL” rang out just as loud at the opening kickoff as they did midway through the third quarter. Not a fan left the stadium, although the concourse was packed with fans wanting to blow off steam. There was a small, shared belief in the stadium that if the Chargers fucked around, they would find out.

And boy did they find out.

It was less a comeback and more of an avalanche, a cathartic release of six years of bullshit that the Jaguars and their fans have endured. Since almost making the Super Bowl in 2017, Jacksonville has dealt with the implosion of that young core quicker than a snap from the Mad Titan Thanos himself, the worst head coaching hire in NFL history and constant quips made about a number one pick that clearly showed the talent, but not yet the results.

Saturday night was one big middle finger to all of that.

The Jaguars defense (who very quietly played a fine first half but dealt a terrible hand due to INTs) allowed three points in the second half, and got the offense the ball enough times to figure something out. Head Coach Doug Pederson made adjustments during the game that even the fans could see (multiple people were yelling about the run game in the first half), and that number one pick? Yeah he turned it around.

It felt like the entire city of Jacksonville was in the stadium in the second half, the crowd was going ballistic. Fans banging on tables and stanchions in party zones, white towels being waved with fervor, the “DUUUUUUUUVVVAALLLL” chant sounding less like a string of fans but more like one cohesive groundswell, an organized legion of hellraisers designed to give teams like the Chargers problems.

When that kick by Riley Patterson went through the uprights, there was a joy I’ve never really felt as a Jaguars fan. I was going around hugging strangers, chest bumping people I’ve never seen in my life until that moment. That family from Minnesota? I spent ten minutes talking with them about the emotions of the game, barely able to put into words what I felt.

Once the Jaguars got the ball back with about three minutes left in the game, it was a foregone conclusion what was about to happen in that stadium. We’ve seen this story before.

Yet, this time the Jaguars are the ones coming out on top—because that’s what this Jaguars team does. “It was always the Jags?” Yeah it’s a great phrase that sells well and looks cool on T-shirts, but it’s more a way of life than anything.

No matter how hard things get.

It was always the Jags.

No matter how far down you get, to the point where you’re 3-8 going into the bye week.

It was always the Jags.

Even when there’s six years of crap thrown at you by the football gods, seeming to punish you for thinking you would get out the doldrums.

Well, Jacksonville fought back against the football gods, and proved once again:

It was ALWAYS the Jags.