JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If it seems like Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has all of a sudden started playing his best football over the past six weeks, it's because that's exactly what has happened.
Thanks to what was one of worst games he has had in his short career.
Lawrence said Wednesday that his poor play in the Jaguars' 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos at London's Wembley Stadium in Week 8 was the turning point for him in his second season. He threw two interceptions -- one in the end zone and one on a simple out route with 1:36 to play to end any chance of a comeback -- and posted the third-worst passer rating of his career against the Broncos that day as the Jaguars lost their fifth consecutive game.
He felt awful, and responsible, and pledged to do something about it.
"[We] should have won that game," Lawrence said. "I remember I never forgot how I felt in that locker room, so I don't want to feel like this anymore. I'm going to one, start taking care of the ball, but two, I just want to be the player that I know I can be.
"And I think that kind of flipped a switch in me and honestly, too, I think I have a little bit more of a chip on my shoulder now."
Lawrence has been a different player since then, and that's the main reason why the Jaguars (5-8) are still alive in the AFC South race heading into Sunday's home game against the Dallas Cowboys (10-3) at TIAA Bank Field. Since that loss in London, Lawrence leads the NFL in completion percentage (71.8%), is second in passer rating (111.7) and is fourth in Total QBR (73).
He has thrown for 1,362 yards and 10 touchdowns over that span and hasn't thrown an interception since Denver's K'Waun Williams picked off his throw to Christian Kirk on the Jaguars' last possession against the Broncos.
That's a stretch of 181 consecutive passes without an interception, which is the second-longest streak in franchise history. (David Garrard completed 209 during the 2007 season.)
He's coming off the best game of his career: 368 yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown and a passer rating of 121.9 in the Jaguars' 36-22 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, where the Jaguars had lost eight consecutive games. That earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time in 2022 (he also won after a Week 3 rout of the Los Angeles Chargers), making him the first offensive player in franchise history to be Player of the Week twice in the same season.
That's a stark difference from his rookie season, when he threw 12 touchdown passes and a league-high 17 interceptions, completing 59.6% of his passes. He had more games with a passer rating below 60 (four) than he did higher than 100 (one) and threw more than two touchdown passes in a game only once.
This year he has 20 touchdown passes and six interceptions, is completing 66.2% of his passes and has posted a passer rating higher than 100 in four of the five games since the loss to the Broncos. The Jaguars are 3-2 in those games, which include a 28-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in which Lawrence threw a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr. and a two-point conversion pass to Zay Jones with 14 seconds to play.
It's what's expected from a player dubbed a generational talent and taken first overall in 2021. Lawrence remembers when the praise wasn't coming, however.
"Last year and a half, I don't really forget what's been said and what people have written," he said. "Now you see people change their mind after a couple weeks, but I remember everything. I don't use that necessarily as my only fuel, but [I] definitely use that, and I think that's something this team's done.
"We kind of remember what people were saying when we lost five in a row and then we've won some big games now and people kind of changed their mind quick. So, we just have that same mentality that we want to prove how good we can be every week."