The New England Patriots experienced the thrill of victory and the Jacksonville Jaguars suffered the agony of defeat. As so many teams over the years have found out for themselves, the young Jacksonville Jaguars learned just how hard it is to finish off the Patriots and Tom Brady in excruciating fashion. A 10-point lead in the fourth quarter was not enough for the Jaguars to capture their first AFC championship in franchise history, leaving some of the key players on the team to have some truly raw emotions afterward.
Blake Bortles, the embattled franchise quarterback that continues to struggle to gain national respect even after a solid performance in the AFC Championship Game, was captured on the sideline with a tear coming down his face in the final minutes as the Patriots were running out the clock.
Blake Bortles shedding tears after losing heartbreaker to the Patriots pic.twitter.com/ev4R261L7P
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 21, 2018
It was hard not to feel for Bortles in that particular moment because he came so close to keeping hope alive for the Jaguars even after seeing the Patriots rally to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Bortles nearly placed a fourth-down pass in the hands of rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook, but the football needed just a little more air under it to avoid being broken up in stellar fashion.
If this doesn't make you want to cry for Blake Bortles, you have no soul pic.twitter.com/CsgO8sCTvE
— Laces Out (@LacesOutShow) January 21, 2018
How close King Bortles was from becoming a legend…. pic.twitter.com/8R0oTREWHY
— Robert Littal (@BSO) January 21, 2018
Bortles is a young quarterback who has overcome some struggles and consistency concerns to lead the Jaguars so close to an AFC championship. Perhaps he will have another crack at getting to the Super Bowl moving forward, but you just never know if that will be the case or not in the NFL. Bortles was not the only Jaguars player to let the emotions flow in the aftermath. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette also let the waterworks flow, as captured in a postgame embrace with Ricky Jean Francois of the Patriots.
Fournette & Francois got me in the feels pic.twitter.com/Iodpt8EnKA
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 21, 2018
The two players share a bond going back to their ties at LSU. Although they did not play at LSU at the same time, the LSU bond runs deep as it does for many players who share a similar college background. Like Bortles, the future looks bright for Fournette too and he may have a shot to come back and try again.
This is all a nice reminder that this may be professional sports, but there is a deep emotion to playing the game and coming so close to a trip to the Super Bowl. Any time someone tries telling you the players don’t care about the game as long as they are being paid, show them these images.