Jaguars coach Doug Pederson told reporters after Saturday’s AFC wild-card game that if it weren’t for the penalty on Chargers defender Joey Bosa, Jacksonville would not have attempted a two-point try when trailing by four points late in the fourth quarter. And if not for Jacksonville’s ensuing conversion, the Jaguars would not have been able to win the game 31-30 as they did on a last-second field goal.
For those reasons, some might view the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Bosa with just over five minutes remaining as a result-altering miscue. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley indicated as much during his postgame news conference.
“We have a …” Staley said before pausing to let out a deep sigh, “penalty that allows them to go for two, unsportsmanlike penalty that goes for two. I thought penalties hurt us in the second half on defense.”
Bosa removed and slammed his helmet on the ground while still on the field. After Staley picked it up and gave it back to him, Bosa threw it down again.
The penalty, which came immediately after Trevor Lawrence hit Christian Kirk for a nine-yard score, gave the Jaguars the chance to go for the two-point conversion from the LA 1-yard line as opposed to where the ball is normally spotted for an extra point. Pederson elected to go for two with Lawrence easily reaching it over the goal line to cut Jacksonville’s once 27-point deficit to 30-28 with 5:25 remaining.
Bosa received two unsportsmanlike penalties during the game, the first of which came after he had something to say to an official. He was not ejected after the second.
“I think he was frustrated,” Staley said. “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. 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.”
Jacksonville forced a three-and-out on LA’s next offensive possession and then proceeded to cover 61 yards in 10 pays to set up the game-winning field goal. Without Bosa’s penalty, however, who knows how the final minutes might have played out?