Chargers blow 27-point lead, Jaguars advance in AFC playoffs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Despite building a 27-0 first-half lead, the Los Angeles Chargers saw their postseason unravel in the second half as the Jacksonville Jaguars stormed back for a 31-30 win Saturday night.

It was the third-biggest comeback in playoff history. The Jaguars advance to the AFC divisional round after their first playoff win since 2017.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

There are many ways to describe the Jaguars’ performance in their wildcard win over the Chargers at TIAA Bank Field, but Ridiculously pretty much covers it.

How else to describe Trevor Lawrence as he threw four interceptions in the first half – including three in the first quarter – and then the Jaguars caught up from a 27-0 deficit to smash the Los Angeles Chargers on Riley Patterson’s last-second 36 yards to beat field goal?

It was so bad in the first half, and nothing summed up how poorly the Jaguars were playing than a punt that ricocheted off Chris Claybrook’s helmet, saw the Chargers recover and with five minutes left into a field goal and a 27-0 -Lead converted first half. Nothing went right for the Jaguars in the first 30 minutes.

That was the Jaguars’ fifth turnover of the half, and it put the Jaguars in too big a hole to get out of it, though they did build in the second half to take the Chargers’ 5-25 lead to three points to decrease.

The last time a team spun the ball five times in the first half of a playoff game was the Miami Dolphins in the 1999 Divisional Playoffs – against the Jaguars on the same field. The Jaguars won that game 62-7, retiring Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.

Meanwhile, the Chargers rolled up 180 yards and Justin Herbert completed 15 of 24 passes for 139 yards in the first half. They got short field on two of Lawrence’s four interceptions, but the Jaguars managed to pressure Herbert on only four of his dropbacks.

Now the Jaguars, who have won seven straight games, will await the outcome of Sunday’s games to find out if they travel to Kansas City.

QB Breakdown: Lawrence played the worst half of football of his NFL or collegiate career in the first half. His first pass was intercepted and he would throw three more in the first half, making him the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw four interceptions in the first half of a playoff game (Gary Danielson and Craig Morton were the other). ). Lawrence became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw three interceptions in the first quarter of a playoff game and had first-half passer ratings of .0 and .6.

Largest hole on the board: The Jaguars should have been able to attack the Chargers defense in running play at the perimeter — they were the last in the NFL to concede 9.3 yards per carry outside of tackles — with running back Travis Etienne Jr. averaging an NFL-best 8.3 yards per carry outside of tackles. But that went out the window with the big deficit, although in the second half the Jaguars tried to run the ball occasionally between tackles while going on offense.

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Chargers from Los Angeles

Ahead of the Chargers’ first playoff appearance in four years, sophomore coach Brandon Staley had questions about job security.

Those questions are unlikely to go away after a total meltdown against the Jaguars.

LA got off to a promising start as cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. snatched three of four interceptions Lawrence threw in the first half and Austin Ekeler ran back, converting two of those takeaways into touchdowns, quickly silencing an overwhelmed TIAA Bank Field crowd and took a 27-7 lead at halftime.

But behind Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson, the fourth-seeded Jaguars adjusted after the break and went on a 24-3 goal streak, sending the fifth-seeded Bolts into the offseason where many questions — about Staley , Tom Telesco, General Manager in his 10th year, and the leadership of the franchise – are waiting for you.

Two halves: The Chargers put on a 27-0 first-half run fueled by five turnovers — including four interceptions and the recovery of a muted punt. But the Jaguars responded with a run of their own, scoring a touchdown to end the first half and then adding 24 more in a historic comeback.

QB Breakdown: After warming up, 24-year-old Herbert jogged off the field and pounded his fists at the screaming Chargers fans, giving all the signs that he was ready to make his first NFL postseason start. Herbert, without star wide receiver Mike Williams, who was out Friday with a minor, non-surgical fracture in his back, played a nearly flawless first half. He directed five scoring drives to convert each takeout.

In the second half, Herbert – without Williams and then DeAndre Carter, who was out with an ankle injury – could not develop a consistent rhythm.

He finished 25 of 43 for 273 yards and a touchdown.

Statistics that count: The Chargers had a lead on every offensive game in the second half and lost.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35448106/los-angeles-chargers-blow-27-point-lead-jacksonville-jaguars-advance-afc-playoffs Chargers blow 27-point lead, Jaguars advance in AFC playoffs

Emma Bowman

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