Skip to main content

Chargers Collapse in Wild Card Round vs. Jaguars, Blow 27-Point Lead

The Chargers' second half flaws against the Jaguars bring their 2022 season to an end.

The Chargers had built a commanding 27-0 lead in the first half, backed by four interceptions off Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. 

But just when early indications looked as if the game could resort into a blowout, Jacksonville came storming back in the second half to pull off a 31-30 victory with kicker Riley Patterson sealing it with a 36-yard game-winning field goal as the clock hit zero.

It was the third-largest comeback in playoff history. The Chargers also became the first postseason team to be plus five in the turnover margin and lose. Previously, they were 17-0 all-time with a plus five turnover margin or better.

"Anytime you're up 27-7 at halftime and you've got four takeaways and you end up winning the takeaway margin, it's going to be a killer," Chargers coach Brandon Staley said after his team's Wild Card Round loss. "I'm hurting for everybody in that locker room. It's a special group of guys and this is the toughest way that you can lose in the playoffs. 

"Certainly with the way we started the game, that's the team that I know that we're capable of being. In the second half, we just didn't finish the game. We're gonna learn a lot from this. Unfortunately, this is the tough side of things."

Lawrence finished the second half completing 18-of-23 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns in which the Jaguars outscored the Chargers 24-3 across the final two quarters.

Staley explained after the game that he felt the Jaguars offense didn’t do anything differently in the second half. He pointed to his team's inconsistent tackling, allowing explosive plays and not remaining discipline that led to the late-game collapse.

Certainly the Chargers defense lost their magic after halftime that propelled them early on, but the offense also brought on their fair share of blame, stalling out down the final stretch.

The Chargers possessed the ball four times in the second half and only picked up one field goal to show for.

"A tough go for us. As an offense, we need to do more in the second half," Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert said. "I feel horrible for the defense for the incredible effort they put out there today."

In working with a lead, the Chargers got complacent, lost its passing efficiency and struggled to run the ball, which would've allowed them to eat time off the clock.

"It was frustrating," Staley said of the team's rushing performance. "Just didn't have enough success, the line of scrimmage and not enough yards after contact. We just didn't play a good second half of football in any phase. And certainly when you have that type of lead, if you can possess the ball effectively enough, then there won't be enough time and we just didn't do that."

Staley emphasized after the game just how crushing the penalties were that allowed Jacksonville additional opportunities. Edge rusher Joey Bosa was flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct with the last one having a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

"We had far too many penalties in the second half that really hurt us," Staley said.

After Bosa felt Jaguars offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor should've been called for a false start on Jacksonville's touchdown with 5:25 left, he walked near the sideline and slammed his helmet down with both hands, drawing his second of two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the night.

Bosa's helmet throw allowed the Jaguars to accept the free yardage on the two-point conversion. Jacksonville converted the two-point that made it a 30-28 game – just one drive before hitting the game-winning field goal.

"I think he felt like there were a bunch of things that kind of accumulated throughout the game and tried to talk through it with the officials," Staley said of Bosa. "But we can't lose our composure like that. We need to make sure that we stay on the high side of things, and we can't hurt the team that way."

Jaguars coach Doug Pederson, when asked if he would've gone for the two-point conversion if not for the penalty, indicated the 1-yard gained from the flag drawn was ultimately the difference maker.

Ultimately, this game was a tale of two halves. And while the Chargers got off to about as good of a start as they could’ve hoped for, they allowed the Jaguars to claw back in the game, which ended up costing them the end result and their season.

*Get your Chargers tickets from SI Tickets by clicking here

Read more from Charger Report:

Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.