Trevor Lawrence followed four interceptions with four touchdown passes — one of the most improbable turnarounds in NFL postseason history — and rallied the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 31-30 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night.
Lawrence engineered the winning drive, highlighted by Travis Etienne’s 25-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play, and put the Jaguars in position for Riley Patterson’s 36-yard field goal on the final play. It capped a 27-point comeback, the third largest in playoff history.
Patterson’s kick barely stayed inside the right upright and set off a raucous celebration for a franchise that had won just four games the previous two years.
This one was mostly a credit to Lawrence. He completed 28 of 47 passes for 288 yards, a shocker considering the way he started.
Lawrence was downright dreadful to begin Jacksonville’s first playoff game since losing in the 2017 AFC title game. He became the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw four interceptions in the first half of a playoff game, joining Detroit’s Gary Danielson and Denver’s Craig Morton.
Lawrence misfired early and often and started getting booed long before halftime. His confidence seemed shot. His swagger appeared gone. All the progress he made in his first season with coach Doug Pederson looked like it would be flushed in the team’s finale.
But Lawrence never wavered. He connected with Evan Engram, Marvin Jones, Zay Jones and Christian Kirk for touchdowns that increasingly raised the team’s belief in its quarterback and its comeback.
Lawrence added one of the biggest plays when he jumped for a 2-point conversion with 5:25 to play that made it 30-28 — and put the Jaguars in a position to win instead of a tie.
Jacksonville’s defense responded by sacking Justin Herbert and then forcing a punt. Lawrence took over from there.
Jaguars rookie Travon Walker, the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, was flagged for unnecessary roughness after a second-down sack in the fourth quarter. Instead of facing third-and-13, the Chargers got 15 yards and an automatic first down. It helped set up a field-goal attempt, but Cameron Dicker missed a 40-yarder that turned out to be huge.
It looked like it would be the third time this season that Walker had a costly penalty late in a game.
He was flagged for roughing the passer on a third-and-12 play — an incomplete pass — that helped Indianapolis beat Jacksonville in Week 6. A week earlier, he tossed Houston quarterback Davis Mills to the ground long after the whistle, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness and turning a third-and-20 play into a first down. Houston found the end zone seven plays later and won.
Chargers receiver DeAndre Carter and left tackle Jamaree Salyer left the game with ankle injuries. Chargers cornerback Michael Davis left with a pectoral muscle injury. Lawrence cut the tip of his left thumb in the fourth but wrapped it up and played on.
Chargers: Will have a tough offseason dealing with this loss.
Jaguars: Await their road divisional opponent, which likely will be top-seeded Kansas City next weekend. The Chiefs won their regular-season meeting.
Original Game Coverage:
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (10-7) at JACKSONVILLE (9-8)
For the first time in five years, the Jacksonville Jaguars will kick off the NFL postseason football game, taking on the Los Angeles Chargers at TIAA Bank Field in Saturday night’s AFC wild-card game.
The winner of this game will advance to the divisional playoff in one week.
Watch the game live on Saturday, 8:15 p.m. EST, NBC.
FINAL SCORE: Jaguars 31, Chargers, 30
11:26 p.m.: The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Los Angeles Chargers during Saturday night’s AFC wild-card game 30-31
11:11 p.m.: Jaguars score a touchdown. Chargers 30, Jaguars 28
10:38 p.m.: Jaguars score a touchdown. Chargers 30, Jaguars 20
10:33 p.m.: Chargers score field goal. Chargers 30, Jaguars 14
10:25 p.m.: Jaguars score a touchdown. Chargers 27, Jaguars 14
HALF TIME: Chargers 27, Jaguars 7
9:31 p.m.: Jaguars score a touchdown, score 27-7
9:31 p.m.: Chargers score a field goal, score 27-0
9:14 p.m.: Chargers score a touchdown, score 24-0
9:02 p.m.: FIRST QUARTER: Chargers 17, Jaguars 0
8:56 p.m.: Chargers score a touchdown and field goal, score 17-0
8:38 p.m.: Chargers score a field goal, score10-0
8:17 p.m.: Chargers score a touchdown, score 7-0
8:15 p.m.: The game begins
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Chargers by 2½.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Chargers 11-5-1; Jaguars 8-9.
SERIES RECORD: Chargers lead 9-4.
LAST MEETING: Jaguars beat Chargers 38-10 on Sept. 25, 2022, in Los Angeles.
LAST WEEK: Chargers lost at Broncos 31-28; Jaguars beat Titans 20-16.
CHARGERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (30), PASS (3), SCORING (13).
CHARGERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (20), RUSH (28), PASS (7), SCORING (T21).
JAGUARS OFFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (14), PASS (10), SCORING (10).
JAGUARS DEFENSE: OVERALL (24), RUSH (12), PASS (28), SCORING (12).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Chargers plus-5; Jaguars plus-5.
CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Justin Herbert is making his playoff debut after finishing second in the league in completions (477) and yards passing (4,739). Herbert’s first win as an NFL starter came against the Jaguars in 2020.
JAGUARS PLAYER TO WATCH: S Rayshawn Jenkins has twice delivered the pivotal play during the team’s five-game winning streak. His strip-sack of Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs led to Josh Allen’s 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown that was the difference against the Titans. Jenkins also had made a shoestring interception that he returned 52 yards for a score that beat Dallas in overtime last month. Now, Jenkins faces the team that drafted him in the fourth round in 2017 and then let him leave.
KEY MATCHUP: Jaguars’ Travis Etienne versus a defense that ranks next to last in the AFC against the run. Etienne, who finished the regular season with 1,125 yards on the ground, managed just 17 last week while dealing with cramps. He should be able to find some room against the Chargers, who allowed 2,478 yards rushing and 17 TDs in 2022.
INJURIES: Chargers WR Mike Williams was ruled out Friday after missing practice all week. He strained his back at Denver last week while playing in a game that had no effect on the team’s playoff seeding. Jaguars PK Riley Patterson (sore right knee), LS Ross Matiscik (back), RG Brandon Scherff (abdomen) and KR Jamal Agnew (shoulder) have been limited in practice but are expected to play.
SERIES NOTES: The Chargers and Jaguars have never met in the postseason. In fact, they’ve only been in the playoffs at the same time once before, in 2007. They lost to undefeated New England in consecutive weeks. ... In eight of the past 10 meetings, the winner has scored at least 31 points.
[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]
STATS AND STUFF: The Chargers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2018. This is Brandon Staley’s first postseason appearance as a head coach. ... The Chargers have a 6-2 record in the wild-card round. ... The Chargers are 6-1 in the Eastern time zone the past two years. ... Los Angeles was second in the league during the regular season in yards after the catch (2,542) and fourth-down conversions (15). They were fourth with 38 drives of at least 10 plays. ... RB Austin Ekeler led the league with 18 scrimmage touchdowns. His 107 receptions were tied for fifth in the league and a team record. ... WR Keenan Allen has a league-leading 50 receptions over the last six games. ...The Chargers were the first team in league history to have six players with at least 500 yards receiving and three TDs. ... LB Khalil Mack led the Chargers with eight sacks. ... LB Joey Bosa has 3½ sacks in four games versus the Jaguars. ... Jacksonville has won five in a row and is in the playoffs for the first time since 2017. ... Coach Doug Pederson’s team is the fifth to win its division after having the worst record the previous season and first since Miami in 2008. ... The Jaguars are hosting a postseason game for just the fifth time in franchise history. They are 3-1 in the previous four. ... Jacksonville was one of two NFL teams to have three players with 70 or more receptions. WR Christian Kirk (84 for 1,108 yards), WR Zay Jones (82 for 823 yards) and TE Evan Engram (73 for 766 yards) and fell just short of becoming the second trio in league history to have three newcomers’ top 800 yards receiving. ... At 23, Trevor Lawrence is the youngest QB in the postseason. He set a franchise record for completions (602). He also has five turnovers in his last four games. ... Jaguars LB Foye Oluokun led the NFL with 184 tackles.