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Jacksonville Jaguars Go For Broke, Win Game, Remain Broke

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (11) celebrate a touchdown during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 27, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fl.
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

Doug Pederson has some serious family-sized pants, and only partially because he coaches the Jacksonville Jaguars. He doesn't have to care about percentages or playoff ramifications because his team plays poorly in the AFC South, one of the NFL's two most noticeable standings hellholes. Thus, Pederson can do things like what he did against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

But he also has the big trousers because he nearly ended up filling them anyway.

The Jags hung around in the suburbs of the Baltimores most of yesterday afternoon in a game that would normally be neither noted nor remembered because the Ravens are good and the Jags are deeply not. But in the modern NFL, hanging around is often considered a clever coaching tactic, and in a hilarious fourth quarter the Jaguars took a 19–10 deficit and made it a 20–19 lead with 4:19 to play because of a 14-play touchdown drive, a Ravens turnover and a field goal in 1:36.

Game over? Please. These are the Jaguars. Baltimore marched down the field in two minutes and scored to make it 27–20, leaving the Jags to lose with more than their usual amount of dignity, right? Please.

Trevor Lawrence, the quarterback who has been damned by the fates for appealing to Jacksonville, ran a brilliant 10-play, 75-yard drive with 14 seconds to go to cut the lead to 27–26. Pederson would of course kick the extra point and, playing at home, he'd bank on getting the ball at least once in overtime, right? That's what all the Belichicks in the world would do a millionty-skillion times in a row. Instead . . . well, please.

Pederson, who has a history of scoffing at the mere point after touchdown, sent Lawrence out to find Marvin Jones, Jr., the 32-year-old third receiver, and Lawrence, the precocious lad, did just that to make the two-pointer and give Jacksonville a 28–27 lead. Game over now, right?

Yeah. You guessed it. Please. These are the Jags; they have leads from last year's schedule that are still not safe.

Lamar Jackson had one play to make and did it, a 12-yard throw to backup tight end Josh Oliver, setting up Justin Tucker, the planet's greatest placekicker, for a 67-yard chip shot to steal victory from Pederson and replace it with a Nyquil-flavored fist down the throat. Of course Tucker would make it because he never doesn't. But please happened one final time; Tucker, who has kicked a 66-yarder as recently as last year, found that was the outer edge of his range. The kick landed short, and the Jaguars won because Doug Pederson invested in Trevor Lawrence's arm and his own sense of DGAF. And because he lucked into Tucker's first missed field goal in 66 fourth-quarter/overtime attempts too.

This means the Jaguars have turned the corner, expunged all their grisly pasts and are ready to become a real NFL team, right? Oh please. This was their fourth win in 11 games, and they are still 11th in the seven-team AFC playoff race. They are a distant third in the AFC South, which when combined with the NFC South (aggregate record 34–54–2, points margin minus-195) is the NFL's version of CONCACAF (one win, three draws, four losses, three goals scored, 15 goals conceded). They have only two winnable games left, at Detroit and at Houston, so they are pretty well rogered.

Thus, Doug Pederson had nothing to lose but the state of his pants if Tucker could have found two more yards, and to his credit he went for the win nobody else would have had the nerve to attempt. Oh, maybe Urban Meyer would have gone for two, but he would have been down 37–9 at the time, and been at his restaurant in Ohio at the time checking customers for weapons.

And that's one more thing Pederson doesn't have to worry about when he goes all low-percentage DGAF for the win that only matters to him and his locker room: the legend of his predecessor.

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