JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The season of "Sacksonville" continues with Jaguars fans elated about a trip to the AFC Championship game this weekend.
The excitement about the Jacksonville Jaguars' playoff run has even affected former players in a way they may not have experienced.
News4Jax Jaguars analyst Mark Brunell, the only quarterback for the franchise to lead the team to the AFC Championship before this season, said that this time around is different.
"I'm no different than every other Jaguar fan," Brunell said on Monday, "It's been a long time for our team to get back. It just means that much more because we've had so many years of bad football and losing seasons. And I'm excited. I'm thrilled for this team."
Brunell took the team as far as it's ever been. He was the face of the franchise, starting the AFC title games for the Jaguars in 1996 and 1999.
"For me, you don't realize how big a moment it is you're in," Brunell said. "And in the moment, you're just trying to win a football game."
The Jaguars beat the Steelers 45-42 in Pittsburgh, so now the team will be on the road to face the New England Patriots in Foxborough.
When it comes to the Jaguars winning the AFC championship on Sunday, Brunell said, it will be an uphill battle to beat the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, and the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady.
"He's absolutely brilliant," Brunell said. "It's going to be a huge challenge for our defense."
The Jags win with a great defense, but eked out the win against the Steelers while giving up 42 points. Brunell said Jacksonville needs to rush the passer better and make Brady uncomfortable.
"The way to beat Tom Brady, in my opinion, is to hit Tom Brady. You have to harass him, get in his face, get him on the ground. That disrupts him. That disrupts everybody," Brunell said. "You can't give him time, can't give him momentum, can't give him early success. He will absolutely tear you apart."
In the meantime, Brunell gets to experience this playoff run differently since he’s not spending every moment preparing for the biggest game of the season. In 1996 and 1999, he was hunkered down in the media room or on the practice field.
"So the first go around, the other two AFC Championship games that we had, I didn't experience what I get to experience now. It's a little different, but it's fun," Brunell said. "I had breakfast at Waffle House this morning. I probably had conversation with eight or nine people. My son and I went down there this morning and people are just thrilled. It's a lot of fun."
Some national reporters have said the fun for the Jaguars comes from being angry and ticked off.
Brunell talked about the motivation teams get through trash talk, and the impact it could have that star defense back Jalen Ramsey claims the Jaguars will go to, and win, the Super Bowl.
Jacksonville can only do that by beating New England, and Brunell said the Patriots won't make the same mistakes the Steelers made.
"(The Patriots) are too disciplined for that and are too scared of (Bill) Belichick. They don't do that. But we're doing it. I think, last night, we already predicted, you know, we're going to the Super Bowl," Brunell said. "Listen, it's who we are. I think it's a bad idea but this team has a lot of swag. We talk a little bit. That seems to be our game. I'm OK with that. But don't think for a second that the New England Patriots won't have every quote written on their boards and it will be communicated from the head coach exactly what was said coming out of the Jacksonville Jaguars. And they will do their best to use it against us. That's how they operate."
The Jaguars have never beaten the Patriots in the regular season, but Jacksonville did win 25-10 against New England in the playoffs in 1998 -- two years before Brady joined the team.