The Jacksonville Jaguars are AFC South champions for the primary time in 5 years, a title secured with a 20-16 victory towards rival Tennessee on Saturday evening in a sport that turned on Josh Allen’s 37-yard fumble return for a landing with 2:51 remaining.
Rayshawn Jenkins pressured Josh Dobbs’ fumble, and Allen scooped up the bouncing ball and ran, untouched, the opposite manner for a lead that held up within the regular-season finale for each groups.
Dobbs fumbled once more on the following possession, and the Jaguars (9-8) began to rejoice their most vital regular-season victory in franchise historical past.
“This was a kind of video games the place our protection needed to win it for us,” Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence stated. “Us guys on offense, we’re just a little annoyed as a result of we left quite a bit on the market. However in these video games, simply win. Our protection picked us up in the present day. They performed nice.”
Jacksonville earned the No. 4 seed within the convention playoffs and can host both the Los Angeles Chargers or Baltimore within the wild-card spherical subsequent weekend.
It’s the 18th time within the final 20 seasons that a minimum of one NFL staff received its division after ending final or tied for final the earlier 12 months.
Jacksonville closed the common season with its fifth consecutive victory and have become the fifth staff in NFL historical past to make the playoffs with a five-game dropping streak and a five-game successful streak in the identical season.
“We simply stored believing,” Lawrence stated. “No one ever misplaced religion. All people believed in each other. We by no means began pointing the finger. We misplaced 5 video games straight and we simply bought tighter.”
Tennessee (7-10) misplaced its remaining seven video games, a skid that had nearly everyone writing them off earlier than Saturday’s finale.
The Titans rested a number of starters final week and primarily created a 10-day break to get wholesome. They returned to their bruising model of soccer and regarded like they might pull an inconceivable turnaround — till Dobbs’ turnover modified the sport.
The Jaguars had been 6 1/2-point favorites, in accordance with FanDuel Sportsbook, and a near-sellout crowd was available to witness what many thought can be extra of a coronation than a scratch-and-claw nail-biter.
The Titans didn’t do something spectacular. With quarterback Ryan Tannehill (ankle) out for the season, they leaned on Dobbs — an aerospace engineer who has bounced across the league — to be sensible with the ball and Derrick Henry to grind out powerful yards. And so they relied on a protection that’s been stout towards the run all 12 months.
It labored for 37 minutes — after which it unraveled.
Henry completed with 109 yards on 30 carries. Dobbs accomplished 20 of 29 passes for 179 yards, with a landing, an interception and the fumble.
Lawrence accomplished 20 of 32 passes for 212 yards, with a landing and a fumble. Lawrence had two would-be touchdowns within the second half fall incomplete. He overthrew Zay Jones in the long run zone and underthrew Christian Kirk.
Henry added one other spectacular stiff-arm to his spotlight reel crammed with them. He tossed Jenkins to the bottom within the second quarter to cap a 14-yard acquire, setting off a flurry of social media posts concerning the transfer.
Henry, who grew up outdoors Jacksonville in Yulee, completed the primary half with 71 yards on the bottom, however added simply 38 after intermission.
He notched his third season with a minimum of 1,500 yards speeding and now trails solely Barry Sanders (5), Walter Payton (4), Edgerrin James (4) and Eric Dickerson (4). He additionally grew to become the fourth working again to hurry for 4,000 or extra yards towards one division because the begin of eight-division format in 2002, becoming a member of Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Frank Gore.
Each groups gathered at midfield collectively earlier than the sport to hope, a few of them nonetheless carrying shirts to honor Buffalo’s Demar Hamlin. Tennessee linebacker Rashad Weaver, faculty teammates with Hamlin at Pitt, wore Hamlin’s No. 3 on his eye black.
Weaver later recovered Lawrence’s fumble on a misguided trick play within the first half.