Winter 2022

Jaguars kicker Riley Patterson relies on 'constant relationship with God'

Riley Patterson started preparing for the possibility of being called upon to make a last-second kick Saturday night when the Jacksonville Jaguars cut the Los Angeles Chargers’ lead to 30-20. He was thinking more about trying to send the game into overtime, but ended up drilling a 36-yard field goal as time expired to win it instead.

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The kick completed one of the greatest comebacks in NFL postseason history, as the Jaguars scored 31 of the game’s final 34 points to turn a 27-0 deficit into a 31-30 victory. Only two teams — the 1992-93 Buffalo Bills and the 2013-14 Indianapolis Colts — have overturned larger deficits. And it marked just the Jaguars’ third playoff victory since 2007.

Right before the game-winning kick, Patterson pulled out his cross necklace and kissed it. In the immediate celebration after the kick, Patterson made sure to take off and display the necklace. He also wore it during his postgame press conference.

It was an intentional nod to his faith in Christ. On Instagram, Patterson’s bio says, “He died for me so I live for him,” and he cited Luke 9:23-24 in a post after the game. The verse reads, “Then [Jesus] said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.'”

 

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Playing one of the most high-pressure positions in sports, Patterson’s foundation of faith has helped him with the ups and downs that come with being a kicker.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve been in both situations, helping the team win, then helping them lose,” he told Sports Spectrum in 2020 while still in college at Memphis. “Having a constant relationship with God, that’s the salvation that I have. Football is not the biggest thing in my life. It may seem like that from your friends and from your family, but there is a much greater purpose that I have in my life than just being a kicker.”

Patterson said he came to know the Lord when he was in high school.

“I was in a tough moment, and I was in my bed one night and thinking about how grateful I am for everything,” he recalled. “I just started praying and hours passed. I thought of all the little things, all the big things, all the people that God had placed in my life to be successful in things I never even thought of. Spent hours honestly crying and coming to Christ in that moment. That’s where my life kind of changed.”

The 23-year-old is now in his first season with Jacksonville after bouncing between teams as a rookie in 2021. He eventually ended up with the Detroit Lions and appeared in seven games, making 13 of his 14 field goal attempts and earning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors in Week 15. Patterson played in all 17 games this season and connected on 85.7% of his field goals while missing just one extra point.

Patterson made all three of his kicks Saturday night, hitting two extra points in addition to the field goal.

“A playoff game at home, like, it doesn’t get much better than that,” he said after the game. “Yeah, you dream of stuff like this as a kicker.”

In a video posted by the team Tuesday, players were asked to say something nice about Patterson. Many teammates described him as being “clutch” and having “ice in his veins,” and one player described him as an “unbelievable man of faith.”

Patterson and the Jaguars are now preparing for a meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round. Kickoff from Arrowhead Stadium is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The winner will face either the Buffalo Bills or Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC championship game.

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