Best Moments in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ History
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a reputation for being an underachieving team. Usually sitting toward the bottom of the AFC South in recent years, their success this year has been a surprise for many from a team who has struggled to fill their stands over the past few seasons (there’s a reason nobody seems to mind that it’s usually the Jags playing in London). But their winning season isn’t completely without precedent–here are a few examples of the best moments in the franchise’s history.
Second Most Successful Expansion Team in History (1995)
The Jaguars joined the NFL in 1995 after years of haggling among bigwigs, littlewigs, and people without wigs at all. Their record of 4-12 may not seem all that impressive, but for an expansion team it was historic. In fact, were it not for the other new expansion team named for a big cat, the 7-9 Carolina Panthers, they would have had the best inaugural season ever.
They Knock the Denver Broncos Out in the Divisional Round (1996)
In 1996, perennial also-rans the Denver Broncos were heavily favored (14 points) against the Jags when they traveled to Mile High Stadium in their second season. Hated on by everybody from the players to the fans and even the media (Woody Paige famously said they weren’t worthy to travel to Denver for the game), they fell behind quickly 12-0 in the first. But quarterback Mark Brunell managed a mistake-free 240 yards with no interceptions, and running back Natrone Means slashed the Denver defense for 140 yards. An impressive diving catch by wide receiver Jimmy Smith put the horsies out to pasture in one of the biggest upsets of all time, and the Jags went on to the AFC Championship game in only their second season.
They Go 14-2 and Dominate the League (1999)
A few years later, the Jags led the league with a fantastic 14-2 season, their only losses coming to their divisional rival Tennessee Titans. Not being satisfied with cleaning everybody’s clock in the regular season, they hosted the Miami Dolphins, and proceeded to slaughter them — going up 41-0 in the second quarter. The scoring bender was kicked off by a massive 90 yard touchdown run by none other than Fred Taylor, and they didn’t let off, winning 62-7 and pushing Dan Marino into retirement. Unfortunately they would face off against the Titans again in the AFC Championship the following week, and became the first team in NFL history to lose three times to the same foe in one year.
The Bounce the Pittsburg Steelers in a Nail-biter (2017)
Maybe there’s a recency bias here, but the win over the Killer Bees last week will almost certainly go down in North Florida history as a defining moment. Doubted for years as a serious team with only two playoff appearances in 18 years, both times ending in butt whoopings from the New England Patriots. Despite having one of the best defenses in the league (helpful to fantasy owners in getting the championship, thanks, guys!), and destroying the Steelers at home earlier in the season, they entered the game as underdogs by nearly a touchdown. They silenced the crowd in a hurry at Heinz Field, however, jumping out to a 21-0 lead early. While they did let the Steelers battle their way back, they were able to force enough mistakes out of the veteran squad to earn a chance to face off against their old playoff foes next week in the AFC Championship, and everybody outside of Boston will be rooting for them to get that monkey off their back and get into the Super Bowl.