Four takeaways: Not the same old Jaguars anymore

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Arden Key (49) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars fought back from a 17-point deficit to force overtime and then won on a Rayshawn Jenkins pick-six, beating the Cowboys 40-34. Here are my four biggest takeaways from the game:

Jaguars heart

In the third quarter, it looked like the Cowboys would run off with a win. Instead, the Jaguars found different gears. After Trevor Lawrence’s first interception since the London game against Denver, the Jaguars started making plays on both sides of the ball. That included Lawrence throwing touchdown passes to Zay Jones, Marvin Jones and Zay Jones again to take a 31-27 lead midway through the fourth quarter. That the Jaguars showed fight against one of the NFC’s best teams is a huge positive. It’s shows the impact Doug Pederson has made on the team culture.

The Pederson-Lawrence combination keeps working

The way Pederson calls plays for Lawrence, and the creative play designs that free up the Jaguars offensive weapons has been a revelation this season, especially in the past month and a half. After falling behind 14-0, the Jaguars dialed up a touchdown drive that included a naked bootleg clear out for a pass to Evan Engram, a slight of hand screen pass to Travis Etienne, and an end around drawn up for Jamal Agnew. Then, when the Jaguars were on the doorstep, Lawrence connected with Zay Jones, who ran underneath the coverage on a crossing route. Touchdown. A beautiful drive. In the big picture, the Jaguars have the two most important on-field components right.

Fumbles and drops and penalties

On the Jaguars first drive, Etienne fumbled away the possession, just as he did in the loss to Detroit two weeks ago. Would that have been the difference in the game? Who can say. But if Etienne is going to be the Jaguars RB1, he has to do a better job of holding onto the ball. Late in the first half, when the Jaguars were desperate for a score to bring them close before halftime, Christian Kirk dropped a pass that was in his hands on a deep out route. Had Kirk held on, he may have taken it the distance. Then there was Lawrence’s fumble with less than two minutes to play that ended a drive that could have tied the game or given the Jaguars the lead. Then in overtime, a Jawaan Taylor false start put the Jaguars behind the chains. They wound up punting on fourth and 3. If the Jaguars want to take the next step, these are the mistakes they must correct.

Playoff implications

The Jaguars still have a path to the playoffs and you know the Titans are looking over their shoulders. The Jaguars need go into the Week 18 matchup between Tennesse and Jacksonville within a game of the Titans. In that scenario, a win over Tennesse in Week 18 wins the division and send the Jaguars to the playoffs.