Jags still lament loss to Patriots
It took 113 days to pass by before Malik Jackson finally forced himself on Monday to look at the tape from hell: the Jaguars’ 24-20 AFC Championship loss to the New England Patriots.
“I couldn’t bring myself to watch it before then,” said Jackson. “You look back and say, ‘We should have beat those guys. We were better.’ It took me a long time to get over it.”
Every member of the Jaguars’ organization would rather erase that gut punch from their memory bank. They were on the brink of the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance, but failed to shut the door on Tom Brady and the Patriots.
On the rip-your-heart-out scale, that AFC title setback must have felt like the Cleveland Browns’ version of the Earnest Byner fumble and John Elway’s “Drive” rolled into one.
For Calais Campbell, it took him back to his rookie year (2008) with the Arizona Cardinals when they couldn’t stop the Pittsburgh Steelers from marching 78 yards in the final two minutes, losing Super Bowl XLIII 27-23 on Santonio Holmes’ remarkable 6-yard TD catch with 35 seconds remaining.
“That [Patriots’ loss], I’m always going to be sick every time I see it,” Campbell said at his Tuesday night charity bowling event to benefit the Charles Richard Campbell Foundation. “It’s like the 2008 Super Bowl, every time I see it, I get sick to my stomach.”
Ultimately, New England overcame a 20-10 deficit in the last 12 minutes through brilliant execution, some lessthan-instinctive reactions by the Jaguars’ defense, and — as no black-and-teal fan can forget — an official prematurely ruling linebacker Myles Jack down after he ripped the ball off the hip of Patriots’ running back Dion Lewis on the craziest fumble recovery the NFL postseason.
But in order to move forward and use that game as fuel for 2018, it’s best for the Jaguars to acknowledge their shortcomings of the most exasperating defeat in franchise history.
Campbell has seen the tape three times and intends to review it one more time before the Jaguars start OTAs on Tuesday.
The Jaguars’ defense needed one more stop on the last two Patriots scoring drives to seal the outcome, so there’s always going to be a nightmarish play or two they’d like to have back. For Campbell, the 10-year veteran pass-rusher, it’s what came after New England took the lead that bothers him most: a 16-yard run on third-and-9 by Lewis to put the Patriots in victory formation.
“I should have known better that it was going to be a run,” Campbell said. “A lot of us were thinking pass in that scenario, but with Tom Brady, you have to be ready for everything. In my mind, I should have taken a better angle.”
Truthfully, there wasn’t much Campbell could do since he was lined up on the opposite side away from the play. Lewis ran outside of the left tackle (Jackson lined up at the other DE spot), finding a big opening when fullback James Develin sealed off safety Tashaun Gipson.
“I hated not giving Blake [Bortles] another opportunity to get the ball and have a chance to win,” said Campbell.
For Jack, he has several nightmare plays he can’t get out of his head, starting with the whistle blowing the play dead on his fumble recovery.
“I knew I wasn’t down,” said Jack. “So I’m screaming at the ref, like, ‘Why the — are you blowing the play down when I know it’s not down?’ When I know it’s coming, I fast forward through [the tape]. I don’t even watch it. It’s so emotional for me.” of
Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell says he’s still sick to his stomach over the team’s playoff loss to the Patriots.