The 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars' season was supposed to be buried long ago.
A 4-8 start, coming off a blowout loss in Detroit, it felt like minor strides made in an otherwise still rebuilding season. Then Doug Pederson's team blitzed through the season's final weeks, winning five straight to secure a 9-8 record and the AFC South title.
Saturday during Super Wild Card Weekend, once again, Pederson's crew was buried early, falling 27-0 to the Los Angeles Chargers. The game was a microcosm of the season, however, as Trevor Lawrence righted the ship and ripped off four straight scoring drives to win the game at the buzzer.
"Whether it's house money or our money, we're here ... we're one of 4 teams left in the AFC and that says a lot," Pederson said on Tuesday when asked about the perception of his team, via NFL Network's Cameron Wolfe.
It says that Pederson was the right man for the job, hoisting the Jags out of the disaster that was the Urban Meyer season.
It says Jacksonville has young talent that can overcome the self-inflicted bumps and bruises that come with a greenhorn gaining its bearings.
It says that while they're ahead of their rebuild timeline, there is a bright future if the Jaguars stay the course.
Earlier this week, Pederson was about safety Rayshawn Jenkins comparing the club's resiliency to a cockroach.
"I mean, cockroaches are kind of disgusting," Pederson quipped. "Maybe that's what we are, I don't know. They are, I probably would've used a different analogy there but, players and coaches, we all see it differently but the same. Right now, our team is, we're a tough football team, we're a physical football team. Those are some of the things we pride ourselves in. We're not perfect, we still make mistakes. It was evident Saturday night. The one thing our team is going to do, is they're going to battle. They're going to keep fighting, scratching, and clawing. We're going to give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter and I hope that's what he meant by us being cockroaches."
Yes, it took some extraordinary circumstances for the Jags to be in this position. The injury-riddled Titans imploded. The Chargers wilted in the most Chargery fashion. But it's one thing for chips to fall your way. It's another to seize that moment and make the most of it.
The Jags enter Saturday's Divisional Round matchup against the mighty Kansas City Chiefs as distinct underdogs, but the foundation has been poured.
"Whether we win (or) whether we lose, our season was a huge success," Pederson said Tuesday.