The Jaguars haven’t won a lot of football games the last few years. Just 22 between the start of the 2011 and 2017 seasons. And never did they ever win any more than five in any one of those seasons.
When winning is that rare any win is a big win but some wins are bigger than others. That 30-9 stomping the Jags put on the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday was one that was indeed bigger than most. Much bigger.
So says veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis, who has experienced far too much losing since he came to the Jaguars as their first-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft.
“This is the biggest win we’ve had, especially on the road, since ‘07,” Lewis said. “The way we did it was really good. What the defense did – you can’t draw it up better. Everybody comes in with a game plan, but to follow it and play even better than what we can draw up. It was amazing.’’
It truly was. The Jaguars picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times and largely because they held running back Le’Veon Bell to 47 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Linebacker Telvin Smith and safety Barry Church each returned their takeaways for touchdowns, and the offense turned two of the other three takeaways into touchdowns.
Quarterback Blake Bortles played a bit part, completing just 8 of 14 passes for 95 yards and an interception, but with Leonard Fournette running 28 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns, Bortles didn’t need to play a bigger part.
Like Lewis said, that’s how the Jaguars drew it up. It’s how they drew up the season. The idea all along has been to lean on the running game and the defense to win and when they did the Jaguars won big.
How big? Teams don’t talk about them as much as fans and the media do but there are such things as “signature wins,’’ wins that set you apart from other teams or in the case of the Jaguars, your past.
Again, this was one of them. This was a win that told the NFL it’s time to stand up and take notice of the Jaguars, and not just their secondary, though Jalen Ramsey believes it’s well past time the league took notice of that.
This was a win that said it’s time to start taking notice of their run game, their ability to win on the road, where they are 2-1 with an overtime loss, and the fact they’re 3-2 overall despite missing what is arguably their best player on offense, wide receiver Allen Robinson.
As signature wins go, this one was right up there and the Jaguars know it, even if coach Doug Marrone isn’t as eager as his players seem to be to go there, which is wise.
It’s part of a coach’s job to maintain perspective at all times, win or lose, and in the wake of this win Marrone did that, saying he’ll wait until the season is over to see how big a win it really was.
That’s fair. After all, given the Jaguars past, this may turn out to be nothing more than a fluke. It doesn’t feel thaty way right now, though. It feels big. Real big.