JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When the Jaguars got back to their locker room on Sunday night after beating the Patriots, "DU-VAL" chants chasing them down the tunnel, there was a celebration unlike any they've had in years.
"It kind of felt like we won a Super Bowl, man," safety Tashaun Gipson said. "I won't even kid you. It was that type of atmosphere and environment. With the upper management. The coaches. The players. It was just a happy time. It was a happy time. I'm not trying to say that guys put too much into this game, but it was a great win."
Clearly, for some if not most in the room, the 31-20 victory, which they felt avenged last season's AFC Championship Game loss to New England, served as a passing of the torch of sorts. It's September, just two weeks into the regular season, but the Jaguars poured a lot into the matchup with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots.
For Dante Fowler, the victory told the Jaguars that they were the best team in the conference.
"Yes, sir," he said. "And we really believe that as well. We really believe that the way we work, the work we put in, how Coach [Doug] Marrone and Coach [Tom] Coughlin trained us and trained our minds mentally, games be easy on Sundays, honestly."
"This meant everything" Gipson said. "I think a lot of people, myself included, you want to look at it as, 'Hey, it's not a revenge game.' But a win against them felt so good. Did it feel better than the New York Giants win? Absolutely. And I'd be the first one to tell you, man. Lotta people probably say no. But absolutely it did. Not because of last year but because of the momentum that's going to catapult us moving forward. It's huge."
Calais Campbell, in his 11th season, with experience in five postseasons, tried to temper expectations when asked about things like playoff tiebreakers in the moments soon after the game.
"It was just a regular game for me," he said. "It was just, get win No. 2 against an AFC opponent, which is always crucial."
But it felt like Campbell was on an island. Gipson is in his seventh season, and while he acknowledged there was a long way to go, after beating the Patriots he had no issues pointing out exactly where the Jaguars wanted to go.
It was about 350 miles north, 16 games (at least) and five months away.
"People come in here, man, and you could kind of sense how tight it was around here this week," Gipson said. "Patriots are coming in. Lots of compliments. Lots and lots of compliments. I think we got kind of tired of hearing how good Gronk was, how good Tom Brady was. And make no mistake, those guys are going to be Hall of Fame players. Obviously. But a win like this against this kind of opponent, it was huge for this team . . .
"We feel like, OK, we beat the Patriots. Let's get this thing rolling. Win the games we win, and we'll be in Atlanta" -- for Super Bowl 53 -- "hopefully."
NBC Sports Boston's Tom Giles contributed to this report