JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It took three tries, but the Jaguars finally won a game on their own home turf.
Jacksonville's 23-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals ended a drought that dated back to December 2016. The win allowed the Jaguars to finish 3-1 in the second quarter of the season, as they won back-to-back games for the first time this year.
The crowd got loud as the Jaguars put the game out of reach. For the first time this year, hometown fans returned to the EverBank Field parking lot with smiles on their faces. There was a similar feeling in the locker room.
"It's huge, especially in the front of the fans," linebacker Myles Jack said. "You can definitely feel the energy, just how Jacksonville feels when we win here. I just can't wait to go out to eat this week and just see the city because I know it's going to be buzzing. To wear my Jaguars stuff - I felt proud to be a Jaguar - so I hope Jacksonville feels the same way."
The Jaguars players know they haven't created a lot to cheer about when they've played at home. The blowout win was a necessary release for both the fan base and the team.
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson said he got emotional because of the support from the fans throughout the game.
"To be able to have those fans come out here today, cheer like they did, be engaged all game, just getting loud, being in it," Jackson said. "It was awesome, man, it almost made me cry."
Linebacker Telvin Smith has been with the team for four seasons. The Jaguars have won just eight regular-season games in front of their home crowd since Smith joined the team.
Smith has seen several visiting teams pick the Jaguars apart. He is moving past those dreadful outings of the past.
"It was great," Smith said. "Like I told the guys after the game, we're taking back Jacksonville. We've let too many people come through here and run through our house and it's over."
For players new to the team and the NFL in general, getting the home win was an accomplishment of sorts. For the first time in their Jaguars careers, they walked off the field with cheers from a rowdy crowd instead of boos from the dozens of holdovers in an empty stadium.
"It feels great," rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole said. "Team is happy, I'm happy. We do this for the team. Everything I do is for the team, the people that's around me. I feel good."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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