JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As the Jacksonville Jaguars prepare for the start of the second part of their season, they’re hoping what happened nearly two weeks ago can be a springboard to a better finish.
The Jaguars’ 34-31 come-from-behind victory over Buffalo in London’s Wembley Stadium on Oct. 25 was the kind of confidence builder the team needed and several players believe the momentum they gained will carry over into their final nine games, beginning with this Sunday’s game at the New York Jets.
"A game like that can be a step above a game where you won 35-3 or 35-7," guard Zane Beadles said. "To win the way we did I think is going to be huge for us and our growth as a team. Kind of prove to the team and get everybody on the same page as far as what it takes to win games like that as well as just developing that winning attitude and that winning mindset."
The Jaguars blew a 24-point lead in that game and went down 31-27 late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Blake Bortles threw a pick-six. They rebounded by going on an 84-yard drive that ended with Bortles’ 31-yard touchdown pass to a diving Allen Hurns with little more than two minutes remaining.
Bortles completed 4 of 6 passes for 74 yards on the drive, which made up for the fact that he went 0-for-7 with the interception to start the fourth quarter.
Coach Gus Bradley had been talking about grit and resiliency for weeks and the players finally showed some.
"We stopped momentum," Bradley said. "We stopped it and came out and scored.
"… We haven’t finished. We finished. Can you believe it, man? We did it. That’s exactly how it is. For them they were like, ‘Yeah, it’s time. Let’s go do this. We know how to do it.’"
Now that they’ve done it once, the players truly believe they can do it again. It was lip service before, but now they have tangible proof.
"You practice those situations but I think it builds a lot of character in a team once you actually step foot on the field and you have to really put it into action on Sunday," receiver Allen Robinson said. "It’s definitely something to build upon for us, but at the same time with us losing some tough games, some close games throughout the course of the year, we always knew that we weren’t that far off."
In a way, blowing the 24-point lead actually turned out to be somewhat of a good thing because it allowed the Jaguars to gain some much-needed confidence heading into a the second part of the season against a schedule that boasts just two teams with a winning record and a combined won-loss record of 26-43.
Kind of, Beadles said with a laugh.
"I would have rather just put it away early and not have to deal with the ups and downs and everything like that," he said. "But we can use it for a lot of teaching and great growth for this team."