By Jeff Moeller
JACKSONVILLE (Florida Sports Wire) – Did you hear the loud bump in the night in Jacksonville last night?
You know, the one you heard last Saturday night. Elton John sang “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” and the Jaguars certainly have the past two weeks.
They have gotten a lot of “action in.” That happens when your team is playing with unbound grit and determination as well as having some luck on their side. It’s when you have five turnovers –four interceptions– in the first half and respond with four touchdown passes in the second half.
It doesn’t make sense. But when you reach a pivotal stage, it doesn’t have to.
These Jaguars aren’t on the same level as the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, or Eagles, but they are close behind. Yet, the Jags mounted comebacks against the Chiefs and Eagles in earlier losses and came within 10 points in each game.
Saturday night’s epic, 31-30 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers – how many of us can actually say that without pausing and thinking of San Diego? – was the one that finally cleaned and chased out all the bad memories of the Jaguars’ past.
Even though the franchise only has a 28-year history, they turned over a new slate with this historic victory.
It’s time to etch in stone a new chapter of this franchise. Over the past 11 years, the Jags have had one winning season – 10-6 in 2017 that was their last playoff appearance – and have a combined 37-123 record.
On the surface, a 10-8 record to take into next week’s divisional playoff round against either Kansas City or Buffalo is above their par, but it still has some stains on it.
However, like I have said plenty of times, Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence have plenty to do with it.
Whenever this season ends, the Jags now have the same shape and solid stature of a cornerstone they did with Tom Coughlin and Mark Brunnell back when it all started in 1995.
History in the NFL does repeat itself, and it will here.
From 1996 to 1999, the Jags under Coughlin and Brunnell had a combined 45-19 mark with two AFC Championship Game appearances.
Their 1997 season featured a 30-27 victory at Buffalo where Mike Hollis kicked a 45-yard field goal late in the game. They then went on to a 30-27 victory- at Denver in the next round in a game in which Brunnell had a memorable 29-yard run across both sides of the field that led to his game-winning touchdown pass to Jimmy Smith.
They ran into Bill Belichick and the Patriots the following week and it ended in a 20-6 loss in which the Jags committed four turnovers.
Like the Coughlin-Brunnell era before them, the Pederson-Lawrence chapter officially began with the victory over the Chargers.
This is a young team that will continue to make mistakes –yet limited –, but they have shed the pretender cloak of their recent past. They have revived a fan base that proved in the past two weeks that TIAA Field can be an electric place to play with white towels waving.
If the Dolphins and Ravens both win, the Jags would host a playoff game next Sunday. In all likelihood, they’ll be headed to Kansas City.
Whatever happens, it’s time for a new chapter that could be a long one to read and digest. There’s still plenty of growth ahead, but the Jaguars have gained respect. They can walk away now with an AFC South title and their first playoff victory in five years.
Those bumps will go away and will be replaced with a consistent, contending attitude.
(Columnist Jeff Moeller covers the NFL and other sports for SportsDay and Florida Sports Wire.)