After a first half to forget in which they came to lose 0-27, the Jacksonville Jaguars reacted impressively after the break and signed a huge comeback this Saturday to beat the Los Angeles Chargers (31-30) and go to the round division of the American Conference (AFC).
The Jaguars thus sealed the third biggest comeback in NFL playoff history.
The expected duel of quarterbacks between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert was resolved in a vibrant game, with two very different parts, and in which the Jaguars finally scored the victory with a field goal at the last second by Riley Patterson.
Lawrence got off to a nightmare start with four interceptions at halftime, but resurrected in the second half to finish with 288 yards (28-of-47 passing) and four touchdowns.
Herbert, for his part, lived just the opposite: he lived placidly in the first half, suffered until he lost the game in the second and finished with 273 yards (25 of 43 passing) and a touchdown.
The Chargers' defense shone in the first two quarters, with three interceptions by a terrific Asante Samuel Jr., but the Angels melted in the second half.
The two franchises faced the game with great enthusiasm: the Jaguars had not played in the playoffs since 2017 and the Chargers had not done so since 2018. However, Jacksonville could not have a more unfortunate start to the game.
On the second play of the first drive, Lawrence was intercepted by Drue Tranquill and Austin Ekeler then took advantage of such a gift to sign his first touchdown when barely 80 seconds had been played (0-7).
And in this way, the misfortunes had only just begun for the locals.
On his second drive, the Jaguars gambled on fourth-and-seven but Lawrence suffered another interception, this time by Samuel Jr. Facing Lawrence's enormous doubts, Herbert started the night with aplomb and led his team firmly.
A field goal extended the lead for the Chargers (0-10), who once again pierced Lawrence's morale with a third interception, the second courtesy of Samuel Jr.
No quarterback in playoff history had recorded three interceptions in the first quarter.
In addition, Ekeler added his second score and the Chargers closed their magnificent first quarter with a resounding 0-17 .
With no reaction in the second quarter, Lawrence suffered his fourth interception of the game (Samuel Jr.'s third), the Chargers recovered a punt recovery and added salt to the Jaguars wound with a Gerald Everett touchdown and a new field goal (0-27).
However, a ray of hope appeared at halftime in Jacksonville thanks to a touchdown run by Evan Engram (7-27) . The walk through the locker room calmed down Lawrence and the Jaguars.
It also helped them that their longest drive of the game (14 plays and 89 yards) ended in a score by Marvin Jones to reduce the gap (14-27).
With an obvious improvement on defense and increased energy, the Jaguars went a step further with a Zay Jones touchdown after Lawrence perfectly read a serious error behind the Chargers.
With the score at 20-30 to start the fourth quarter, Cameron Dicker missed a field goal from the 40-yard line for the Angels and the Jaguars dreamed of an epic comeback.
A score from Christian Kirk and a two-point conversion from Lawrence left them on the verge of glory (28-30), a feat Patterson capped with an unforgettable field goal in Jacksonville.