JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is no such thing as a bad playoff win. Just as there is no good postseason loss. These things are measured in degrees of good and bad. With that said, the Jaguars’ seven postseason wins in franchise history are not all created equal. Let’s rank them from seven to one as the current team goes for number eight on Saturday night.
No. 7, Jan. 7, 2018: Jaguars 10, Bills 3
Some game had to be ranked seventh. This playoff victory over the Bills ended a decade-long postseason drought and the atmosphere in the stadium — and especially outside of the stadium — was highly charged. The game itself didn’t offer too many memorable moments. But the Blake Bortles to Ben Koyack touchdown — the only TD of the game — was enough for the Jaguars to win. The victory was sealed by a Jalen Ramsey tipped interception of Bartram Trail alum Nate Peterman in the final minutes.
No. 6, Jan. 3, 1999: Jaguars 25, Patriots 10
The most significant aspect of this game is that it was the first home playoff game in franchise history. After winning the AFC Central with an 11-5 record, the Jaguars hosted the hobbled New England Patriots. With Drew Bledsoe injured, New England started Scott Zolak at quarterback. Two Mike Hollis field goals gave the Jaguars a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second, Fred Taylor capped a drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. It was 12-0 at halftime.
The Patriots scored their only touchdown of the game when Robert Edwards went in from a yard out to make it 12-7. They cut the Jaguars’ lead to two with an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the fourth quarter. Then Mark Brunell connected with Jimmy Smith on a 37-yard touchdown pass and Mike Hollis added a pair of late field goals to give the Jaguars the victory. The following week, the Jaguars’ season came to a disappointing end against the Jets, but Jaguars fans had a taste of the playoffs in Jacksonville. They would get more the following season.
No. 5, Jan. 5, 2008: Jaguars 31, Steelers 29
Unlike the win over Buffalo, the victory over the Steelers was full of big moments and milestones. The Jaguars became the first team in NFL history to beat the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in the same season (a feat they would later repeat).
The Jaguars jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead behind touchdown runs from Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew and a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown by Rashean Mathis. But the Steelers came roaring back. Ben Roethlisberger tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and then led the Steelers on the go-ahead touchdown drive. Najeh Davenport’s 1-yard run gave Pittsburgh a 29-28 lead.
The Steelers went for two, but Roethlisberger’s pass was incomplete. At the two-minute warning, the Jaguars faced a fourth and 2 from the Steelers’ 43-yard line. That’s when quarterback David Garrard took off running. Garrard’s scramble went for 32 yards and put the Jaguars in field goal range.
After three Jones-Drew runs, Josh Scobee booted a 29-yard field goal to give the Jaguars the two-point lead. What is largely forgotten is the final, clinching play. Bobby McCray’s strip-sack of Big Ben allowed the Jaguars to take a knee and advance to the next round, where they eventually lost to New England. But beating the Steelers, the Jaguars’ first rivals, will be long remembered by Jaguars fans.
No. 4, Jan. 14, 2018: Jaguars 45, Steelers 42
For the second time in franchise history, the Jaguars traveled to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in the postseason after having beaten them earlier in the year. In October, the Jaguars had dominated the Steelers at Heinz Field 30-9 in a game that saw the Jaguars score two touchdowns on interception returns, one by Telvin Smith and the other by Barry Church.
Those were two of five interceptions of Roethlisberger in the game. The return match in the postseason looked as if it would go the same way. The Jaguars jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. After a Steelers score, Smith returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown to give the Jaguars a 28-7 lead.
But the Steelers scored just before halftime on Roethlisberger’s second touchdown pass of the game. Then, in the third quarter, Big Ben threw another one. After Leonard Fournette’s third touchdown run of the game, the Jaguars led 35-21 with 10 minutes left in the game. The shootout was far from over.
Roethlisberger tossed a fourth touchdown pass, connecting with Antonio Brown from 43 yards out bringing the Steelers to within a touchdown. But the Jaguars weren’t done scoring. Bortles directed a 75-yard drive that took nearly five minutes.
The unlikely touchdown was a pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon. Jacksonville led 42-28. The Steelers would climb to within a touchdown before Josh Lambo’s field goal with 1:45 gave the Jaguars a 10-point lead. Roethlisberger would throw his fifth touchdown pass of the game with one second left and the Jaguars completed the sweep of the Steelers for the second time in a decade.
No. 3, Dec. 28, 1996: Jaguars 30, Bills 27
Midway through the 1996 season, the Jaguars had shown modest improvement over their expansion campaign in 1995. But with a record of 4-7, they weren’t on anybody’s playoff radar. Then, an overtime win in Baltimore was followed by victories over the Bengals, Oilers and Seahawks. In the final week of the season, the Jaguars needed to beat the Atlanta Falcons to earn the first playoff appearance in franchise history. You probably know what happened next.
Morten Andersen, arguably the greatest kicker in NFL history, missed a 31-yard field goal and the Jaguars were off to the playoffs. Nobody could deny that the Jaguars were on a roll. Winners of five straight heading to the postseason, the Jaguars had to go to Buffalo to face the Bills, who had never lost a postseason game at Rich Stadium.
This was the game that would make Tony Boselli a household name in NFL circles as he dominated the defensive player of the year, future Hall of Famer Bruce Smith. But the game did not get off to a good start. Jim Kelly connected with Thurman Thomas on a 7-yard touchdown pass to give Buffalo an early lead.
Then, they were driving again, but Clyde Simmons intercepted a shovel pass from Kelly and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, tying the game. The fight was on. Natrone Means busted off a 30-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give the Jaguars their first lead of the game, 17-14.
Means would finish with 175 yards rushing. But the scoring was far from over. In the fourth quarter with the game tied at 20, Brunell was intercepted by Jeff Burris who brought it back 38 yards for a touchdown. Jacksonville responded with a 10-play drive that was capped by Brunell to Smith 2-yard touchdown pass. The game was tied again.
On the Bills’ subsequent drive, Chris Hudson hit Kelly, who fumbled. Aaron Beasley recovered. The Jaguars had it at their own 42-yard line. It took eight plays to drive 31 yards, setting up Mike Hollis for a 45-yard field goal. It ricocheted off the right upright and went in. With Kelly injured and out of the game, Todd Collins stepped in. The Bills went three-and-out. The Jaguars milked four minutes off the clock, leaving Collins with 42 seconds to work with. On third down, Tony Brackens sacked Collins, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Eddie Robinson. The Jaguars went into the victory formation and celebrated their first playoff win in historic and surprising fashion.
No. 2, Jan 4, 1997: Jaguars 30, Broncos 27
After beating the Bills in Buffalo, the Jaguars traveled to Denver to face the AFC favorites, John Elway and the Broncos. The Jaguars were a two-touchdown underdog. And just like in Buffalo, the Jaguars found themselves trailing early. As the second quarter opened, the Jaguars were down 12-0. They got on the board with a Mike Hollis field goal, then Natrone Means scored and Hollis connected again to give the Jaguars a 13-12 halftime lead. Could this happen again?
The Jaguars stretched the lead to eight on a Brunell to Keenan McCardell 31-yard touchdown pass. After Hollis booted his third field goal of the game, the Jaguars led 23-12 in the fourth quarter. Denver cut the lead to three on a Terrell Davis touchdown. That set the stage for two of the most memorable plays in Jaguars history. On a second-down play from midfield, Brunell scrambled away from pressure, ran to his right, then cut back across the field, dodging Broncos defenders before diving to the 21-yard line with 3:59 to play in the game.
Three plays later, Brunell threw a fade down the left side of the end zone. Jimmy Smith made a diving touchdown catch to give the Jaguars a 10-point lead with 3:39 to play. Elway would lead a touchdown drive with 1:50 to go, but they never got the ball back. The Jaguars, in just their second season in the NFL, were on to the AFC championship game.
No. 1, Jan. 15, 2000: Jaguars 62, Dolphins 7
This was an easy pick. Still, the most memorable day in Jaguars’ history. After a dominating 14-2 season, the Jaguars hosted the 9-7 Miami Dolphins, coming off an upset of the AFC’s third-seeded Seattle Seahawks. With a packed house at Alltel Stadium, the Jaguars got off to a fast start and never let off.
On the first drive, Brunell connected with Smith on an 8-yard touchdown pass. Aaron Beasley then intercepted Dan Marino, setting up a Hollis field goal, the Jaguars got the ball back and Fred Taylor authored one of the great plays in Jaguars’ history. His 90-yard touchdown run is replayed to this day as an example of Taylor’s home run ability.
On the ensuing drive, Tony Brackens sacked Marino, forcing and recovering a fumble. For a moment, Brackens thought he was down, but Bryce Paup got his attention and Brackens ran it in for a touchdown. It was 24-0 and there were still more than three minutes remaining in the first half.
The game retired Marino and it was Jimmy Johnson’s last game as an NFL head coach.
The Jaguars went on to win by the largest margin of victory in nearly 60 years and the Jaguars were on to the AFC championship game.