Purdy and Lawrence defy inexperience with touchdowns and composure

In a league where a 45-year-old Tom Brady remains the biggest star, playoff experience is invaluable, but on Saturday it was a rookie and a second-year quarterback who delivered breath-taking game-winning performances in the opening NFL playoff games.

Rookie Brock Purdy threw three touchdowns and ran in another as the San Francisco 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks after making an edgy start in the first half.

Purdy had been selected by the 49ers with the final pick in the 2022 draft, 262nd overall, earning him that year's "Mr. Irrelevant" monicker, the cruel title given to last picks since 1976.

The back-up quarterback until last month, when he took over for injured first choice Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy showed some nerves and made some errors in the first half.

But coming out for the third quarter with Seattle ahead 17-16, he took control of the game with his own one-yard quarterback sneak before throwing two touchdowns early in the fourth to secure the win.

Running back Christian McCaffrey, who had scored off a Purdy pass in the first quarter, said that despite his inexperience, the quarterback --  who threw for 322 yards and avoided any interceptions -- had exuded self-belief.

"Being with him in the huddle, he's poised and he's calm but he's extremely confident, and he's exactly what you would want in a quarterback," McCaffrey said.

"No moment is too big for him, and he makes corrections quickly. We saw that today, he's able to go out there and play with some juice, hit the right guys and let everybody else do their jobs."

Purdy was particularly impressive when forced to move out of the pocket, an aspect that was not lost on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

"Brock Purdy did a really good job staying alive. I don't know how we couldn't sack the guy, we chased him all over the place," Carroll said.

"He's not known for being the greatest scrambler, but he looked like (Hall of Fame quarterback) Fran Tarkenton out there today. Some of you guys might know who that is, but he did an excellent job of keeping plays alive."

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has had a season longer in the NFL than Purdy but was also making his post-season debut and it looked like it was going to be one to forget.

Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first half, including on both his opening drives, as the Los Angeles Chargers opened up a 27-0 lead.

- Mental fortitude -

But then he showed why he was chosen as the first overall pick in the 2021 draft with his four touchdowns taking his team to an unlikely 31-30 comeback win.

He also showed incredible mental fortitude to put aside the nightmare opening two quarters and control his team's offense as they turned the game upside down.

"I didn't have a choice," he said. "If we were going to win the game, after digging a hole like that, you have got to do it by scoring a lot of points and your quarterback has got to play well.

"I didn't have a choice," he said.

Jaguars coach Doug Pederson compared Lawrence's display to the way his former Green Bay Packers teammate and quarterback Brett Favre was able to bounce back.

"That is what I love about Trevor, his demeanor and his aggressiveness and the ability to just forget and move on," said Pederson.

"We love having Trevor as our quarterback, he never flinches...you see the emotion, it is a step in the right direction," he said.

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