The Los Angeles Chargers took an early 27-0 lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Saturday's wild-card matchup, thanks to five takeaways (yes five) in the first half. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first half, setting the Chargers up with solid field position each time. So I bet you can guess who won this game. If you guessed Jaguars, you are correct.
In a shocking turn of events, the Jaguars managed to win in one of the biggest playoff comebacks. Lawrence became the first quarterback to throw four interceptions in the first half of a playoff game and win, as he completely erased the early blunders.
The game ended with Jags kicker Riley Patterson kicking a 36-yard field goal down the uprights with three seconds left in front of a roaring home crowd to win it 31-30. The Chargers have a history of losing close games and blowing leads, but this one had to sting even more than any past loss.
After the game, players and coaches from the losing locker room expressed how it felt to be one-and-done in the playoffs.
"I'm hurting for everybody in that locker room," Rams coach Brandon Staley said, via ESPN. "This is the toughest way that you can lose in the playoffs ... The way we started the game, that's the team that I know that we're capable of being. In the second half, we just didn't finish the game."
The head coach, who has faced criticisms this season, added that they needed to improve in all areas of play.
"We just didn't play clean enough football in the second half in all three phases," he said. "We didn't score the ball or possess it well enough on defense. We had far too many penalties in the second half that really hurt us and didn't play well enough in the red area, didn't perform well there in the two minutes at the end of the game. Just didn't play a good second half of football as a team."
This was Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert's playoff debut and it clearly did not go the way he wanted it to.
"It's really tough because we think really highly of our team, and that's a special group of guys in that locker room," Herbert said. "They deserve better, and it didn't go our way, and that's the unfortunate part."
Los Angeles had many chances to score, but settling for field goals a few times ultimately made the difference between a win and a loss. Their defense set the offense up for success in the first half with great field position, but without takeaways in the second half, they struggled to march down the field on their own.
"As an offense, we need to move the ball better, through the air, on the ground," Herbert said. "We just have to be able to move the chains. We didn't do that enough. We didn't score in the red zone enough. Only put up three points in the second half. So as an offense, that's on us."
Chargers defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day put it simply saying, "It's embarrassing. It feels really bad, and it just sucks."
The Chargers are now starting their offseason earlier than they wanted, while the Jags await to see who they will face in the divisional round.