Jacksonville Jaguars’ magical season ends in late loss to New England Patriots in AFC Championship

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Marqise Lee /

The Jacksonville Jaguars season comes to a close with a 24-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the conference championship game.

A heartbreaking end to a wonderful ride.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were on the doorstep of the biggest stage in sports, but the New England Patriots do what the team has done so often, and pulled off a dramatic playoff comeback. The Jaguars had a brilliant offensive blueprint in the first half, and jumped out to a 14-3 lead. With matching quick, effective throws with a running game that was churning out yards, Jacksonville found a rhythm that the Patriots just didn’t have an answer for early.

But after an unacceptable delay of game, an unnecessary roughness penalty, and then a highly questionable pass interference call, New England was able to strike just before halftime to bring the deficit to 14-10. Even with the Jaguars heading into the locker room with the lead, the Patriots getting gifted a late touchdown really set the tone for what would be a gut-wrenching second half.

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Jacksonville didn’t let the score give New England momentum, as the Jaguars defense came out flying around the ball. The Patriots were held scoreless the entire third quarter, and after a 54-yard field goal by Josh Lambo, Jacksonville entered the final fifteen minutes up by 7. Just eight seconds into the fourth quarter, Lambo connected on another field goal, and Jacksonville’s lead grew to 20-10.

But as we have unfortunately seen so many times, Tom Brady turned into playoff Tom Brady. New England drove 85 yards on just eight plays, and Brady hit Danny Amendola for a touchdown to cut the lead to 20-17 with 8:44 to go in the game. The pressure intensified, and the Jaguars offense just couldn’t respond. The two teams traded punts on three straight possessions, as Jacksonville could not find a way to put a scoring drive together to re-extend the lead. After forcing a punt from the endzone, and a twenty yard return, the Patriots started a drive at the Jaguars’ 30 yard line. The drive ended as expected, as Brady found Amendola again to give New England a 24-20 lead with 2:48 left.

Jacksonville would end up having only more opportunity with the football, and the final offensive play of the season was an incomplete pass on 4th and 15 to seal the fate of the season.

With the importance of the game, and how it unfolded, it is without a doubt a bitter way to go out. But the Jaguars went toe-to-toe with the defending champs and gave them everything they could handle. Jacksonville out-gained the Patriots, and had nearly 11 more minutes of time of possession. Blake Bortles played poised and in control, and had a great game. Bortles went 23/36 for 293 yards and a touchdown. But in the end, Brady was just Brady, and the Jaguars just made too many mistakes.

Perhaps difficult to look at the 2017 season in its entirety at the moment, but the Jaguars over-exceeded expectations and made it a season to remember. First-ever AFC South title, first home playoff game in 18 years, and a trip to the AFC Championship game. It was a remarkable ride, and Jacksonville has put the rest of the league on notice.

Thank you for the fun, Jaguars. We’ll be back.