Trevor Lawrence’s playoff debut couldn’t have started any worse.
On Lawrence’s very first pass he threw an interception. On the Jacksonville Jaguars’ second possession, Lawrence tossed another pick. The Jaguars quarterback threw four interceptions in the first half, including three in the first quarter. The Jaguars were down 27-0 late in the second quarter and trailed 27-7 at halftime after committing five total turnovers in the first two quarters.
But it was a tale of two halves.
Lawrence and the Jaguars showed tremendous resilience in the second half. Lawrence tallied 211 passing yards and three touchdowns after halftime, and the Jaguars defense held the Chargers to just three points in the second half as Jacksonville stunned Los Angeles 31-30 to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.
Jacksonville’s 27-point comeback was the third largest in NFL postseason history. Consequently, it was also the Chargers’ biggest blown lead.
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“Our defense just kept getting stops for us. We been in that situation before – not that many points. That’s the thing, just the belief in this team. It’s really cool to see what could happen when everybody believes,” Lawrence said after the game. “I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did today and what the offense was able to do to bounce back and also the defense, if we didn’t believe in one another.
“I threw four picks in the first half and those guys beside me on offense and the guys on the other side of the ball never lost faith in me. That’s one thing that makes it easier. When you know you have guys who believe in you no matter what the circumstances are.”
Saturday night’s win exemplified the Jaguars’ season. Jacksonville was 3-7 going into its Week 11 bye, but the club rallied to win five straight games to end the regular season, including a win-and-in game versus the Tennessee Titans to win the AFC South title for just the second time in franchise history.
“It’s just what I told them at halftime. It’s kind of like our season. We put ourselves in a hole at times and we worked ourselves out of it at times. Just to have the resiliency, the fight, the desire and the ability to continue to play. It could’ve easily gone the other way,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said. “That’s what I’m so proud of these guys for. Everything is on the line and they go out and get the job done.”
The Jaguars defense deserves plenty of credit for their performance in the second half for holding a Justin Herbert-led Chargers offense to just three points and 140 total yards. But Lawrence’s ability to bounce back from a nightmarish first half was a tremendous display of resiliency. He didn’t flinch, kept his composure, delivered timely and accurate passes and played turnover-free football in the second half.
“That’s what I love about Trevor. His demeanor and his aggressiveness and his ability to forget and move on. But he’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s not about him. Guys around him, too, made plays,” Pederson said. “But from an individual standpoint, this was really a great performance by our quarterback.”
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Lawrence’s second-half performance was a demonstration of why he was such a highly-touted quarterback coming out of Clemson and why the Jaguars selected No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL draft. The Jaguars have their franchise quarterback, and he took a big step in his NFL career Saturday night in his first playoff win.
“I was able to turn it around and play well in the second half, but it all stems from the collective belief of the team,” Lawrence said. “We all believed it and that’s the crazy thing. It’s easy to say it after, but you don’t win a game like that if you really don’t believe it… It’s a special night. I’m proud of the group (and) the city. It’s a special night for a lot of people. Just thankful for everybody who played a part in it.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.