AFC Wild Card Game Day Newsletter 10 Jan 7th Bills_Digital - Page 61

CARD PLAYOFF GAME JAGUARS HOST THE BUFFALO BILLS IN FIRST HOME PLAYOFF GAME IN 18 YEARS JACKSONVILLE – Where were you in 1999? That’s a common question this week as the AFC South division champion Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) prepare to host an AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Buffalo Bills (9-7). The last Jags home playoff game? The AFC Championship Game following the 1999 season. Maybe you were at EverBank Field (then Alltel Stadium) that day as the Jaguars lost to the Titans. You could have watched it play out on television like millions of others around the country. Possibly you were too young to know what was going on. Perhaps you were not even born yet. It’s certainly possible that someone you enjoyed that game with is no longer with us. Yes, the 1999 season was special in so many ways for Jaguars fans. You see it in the history of the team, the Pride of the Jaguars at EverBank Field and so many other places around town. Boselli, Brunell, Lageman, Smith, McCardell, Brackens… those are a few names that will always be close to Jaguars fans hearts from not just that team, but all the early Jaguars teams that saw immediate success after the birth of th e franchise. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS Defense, run game and explosive plays… That’s the key to the Jaguars’ success in the regular season, and is again the formula for success in the playoffs. After the Jaguars allowed 44 points in San Francisco in Week 16, they rebounded last week with 15 points allowed to the Tennessee Titans in Week 17. In key situations, they kept the game within reach by forcing fi eld goals on short fi elds, and scored for a league-leading eighth time on defense with a fourth quarter fumble return for a touchdown by Yannick Ngakoue. This is a defensive group with skill and speed at every level, and a swagger to back it up. They will tell you before the game that they are good, they will go play well, and then they will remind you of how good they are after the game. That might rub some people the wrong way, but they do not care. That kind of swagger is needed for a group trying to make an impact in the postseason, but they must keep it in check. The defense has drawn unsportsmanlike conduct or personal foul penalties throughout the season while being a little too aggressive or crossing the line after the whistle. For perspective, the Jaguars’ oldest player on the roster – 12th year tight end Marcedes Lewis – was 15 years old when the Jaguars played in that AFC Championship Game. With intensity ramped up even more for the playoffs, the Jaguars must match it with intensity of their own while maintaining poise in an environment they have never seen before. Flip the calendar ahead 18 years… Bortles, Fournette, Hurns, Campbell, Ngakoue, Ramsey, Bouye have a chance to build this Jaguars team’s legacy and move the franchise deep into the postseason. Offensively, the Jaguars fi nished the year as the best rushing team in football. Leonard Fournette is the second Jaguars rookie to surpass 1,000 yards (Fred Taylor, 1998), and is among the