Jaguars erase 27-point deficit to defeat Chargers in wild card game

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Jaguars erase 27-point deficit to defeat Chargers in wild card game originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Pardon the cliché, but it was a tale of two halves.

Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first half...and nearly all completions and touchdowns in the second half.

The Jacksonville Jaguars trailed by 27 points in the first half...and completed one of the biggest postseason comebacks in NFL history in the second half.

Lawrence and the No. 4 Jaguars went on to defeat the No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers 31-30 in the AFC wild card game on Saturday, winning on a 36-yard field goal as time expired.

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It was the third-largest comeback in NFL postseason history.

"You couldn't write a crazier script," Lawrence told NBC after the game. "We said in the locker room, this is kind of how our season has gone. We're never out of the fight."

Lawrence continued to fight following a dreadful start to his playoff debut. After throwing three interceptions in the first quarter and another in the second as the Chargers used the short fields to go up 27-0, Lawrence found Evan Engram for a nine-yard touchdown with 24 seconds left in the half.

What seemed a mostly irrelevant touchdown instead was the start of a momentum shift.

Lawrence found Marvin Jones Jr. for a six-yard touchdown that made it a two-possession game at 27-14 with 5:11 left in the third quarter. After Chargers kicker Cameron Dicker hit a 50-yard field goal to push the lead to 30-14, Zay Jones caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to make it 30-20. The Jaguars went for the two-point conversion but Lawrence's pass was incomplete.

Lawrence, after Dicker's 40-yard field goal attempt hooked left, capped a nine-play, 70-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Christian Kirk to cut the deficit to 30-26 with 5:25 remaining.

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Following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Joey Bosa, the Jaguars elected to attempt a two-point conversion, which Lawrence converted by reaching over the goal line to pull the Jaguars within two.

The Chargers went three-and-out, giving the ball to Jacksonville at their own 21-yard line with 3:09 to go. Facing fourth-and-1 from the Chargers' 41-yard line with 1:27 left, Travis Etienne rushed for 16 yards to put the Jaguars comfortably in field goal range. Riley Patterson then converted a 36-yarder as the final seconds ticked off the clock, completing one of the most improbable comebacks in NFL playoff history.

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"I'm kind of speechless, honestly, just to see what belief can do and to see when a team believes in each other, what you can accomplish," Lawrence said. "I mean, playoff game down 27-0, we come back and win. We know we're always counted out of these games and we don't care. We love it. So, unbelievable."    

Lawrence completed 28 of 47 passes for 288 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. This after going 10-for-24 with 77 yards in the first half as the Jaguars mustered just 107 yards of total offense.

Etienne finished with 109 yards on 20 carries.

Justin Herbert, also making his playoff debut, completed 25 of 43 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown.

The postseason opener for Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, and Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, got off to very different starts and had a very unexpected ending.

On the game's opening drive, Lawrence's first postseason pass was deflected by Sebastian Joseph-Day and Joey Bosa before being intercepted by Drue Tranquill to give the Chargers possession at the Jacksonville 18-yard line just 47 seconds into the game.

Austin Ekeler followed with a 13-yard touchdown run to give Los Angeles an early 7-0 lead.

Lawrence was then intercepted three times in the half by Asante Samuel Jr. as the Chargers scored 27 unanswered points to silence the fans at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.

They wouldn't be silenced much longer.

The Jaguars, after going 3-14 last season, now advance to the divisional round next week.

Jacksonville, which last made the playoffs during the 2017 season when they advanced to the AFC Championship Game, closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak to win the AFC South title at 9-8 and secure the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.