Jaguars Playoff Hopes Sunk by New England Loss
The Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) lost their third consecutive game in a 35-7 rout to the AFC East champion New England Patriots (10-5). The Patriots scored 35 unanswered points in a contest that was never close. It was the first time since a 41-0 blowout loss to Seattle that Jacksonville has been shut out in the first half.
The Patriots moved the ball so well because of their future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, who plays with ice in his veins regardless of the climate. In the first half, he was 14 for 16 with 150 yards and three passing touchdowns. The 28-0 halftime lead is a record in Jaguars’ history. It was just another day on which Tom Brady will be remembered for being nearly perfect.
For the Jacksonville offense, nothing could jumpstart the engine. David Garrard led the offense to 275 yards and 16 first downs – not nearly enough to keep up with the New England Bradys…cough, Patriots. The Jaguars continue to lead the NFL with nine turnovers in the red zone. The woes will continue until Sunday.
Jacksonville will finish the season on the road against the Cleveland Browns (4-11), a team that is coming off a 23-9 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday, January 3.
Now, on to the Awards…
Key Play of the Game: Only ten minutes into the game, Jack Del Rio decided to go for it on fourth down and one at Jacksonville’s own 35. Maurice Jones-Drew was handed the ball and attempted to go around the right tackle, but was stopped for a loss. Four plays later, New England scored its first touchdown. The floodgates opened from there.
Best Director (goes to Jaguar coach or coordinator): Gene Smith, General Manager – This year’s draft class continues to impress me. The rookies I’ve seen improving each week are right tackle Eben Britton in run support, Mike Thomas’ confidence and Rashad Jennings’ ability to see the holes.
Best Jaguar in a Leading Role: Maurice Jones-Drew, starting running back – Superman continues to prove himself as a No.1 back. Jones-Drew, with 21 touches, went for 98 yards of offense. With his three receptions, he reached 200 catches for his career – joining an elite group of Jaguars (Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell, Kyle Brady and Fred Taylor). Along with returning two kickoffs on Sunday, Jones-Drew transferred his adrenaline to moving piles. His legs never stopped, especially on a 14-yard run in the first quarter. Before Sunday’s game, the Jaguars were 6-2 in games in which Jones-Drew touched the ball at least 21 times; however, even Superman’s effort couldn’t help Jacksonville avoid its third straight loss.
Best Jaguar in a Supporting Role: Mike Thomas, wide receiver – The rookie out of Arizona, with six catches for 57 yards, set a Jaguars’ rookie record on Sunday. His 41 receptions for the year broke Matt Jones’ previous mark of 36. Thomas is one of the most valuable Jaguars. His explosiveness brings a new aspect to the game that the Jaguars haven’t seen in a while. In an excellent 2009 draft class, Thomas may be the one who is most talked about in five years. Starting next season, he should touch the ball at least five times per game. Thomas plays bigger than he is, and that’s always a positive.
Mediocre Jaguar: David Garrard, starting quarterback – Garrard tossed two interceptions and fumbled once, but right tackle Eben Britton fell on the loose ball. Garrard threw for a pedestrian 185 yards on 19 for 25 passing. December and January are the two months in which quarterbacks make a name for themselves. Garrard will continue to take the heat as the field general for the Jaguars. In the first quarter, a Garrard pass sailed over tight end Marcedes Lewis and was picked off and returned 57 yards by Brandon Meriweather. In my opinion, the floating pass has been a continuing issue for Garrard the past three weeks. Although the game was out of reach at this point in the fourth quarter, Garrard led the offense on a five-play, 70-yard drive lasting 2:13. After the drive, Garrard clutched at his right knee and hobbled off the field. Backup quarterback Luke McCown took the final snap of the game.
Best Patriot in a Leading Role: Tom Brady, starting quarterback – Brady was close to perfect on Sunday while picking and choosing where he wanted the ball to go. Brady threw to seven different receivers as he went 23 for 26 with 267 yards and four passing touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 149.0 – a 158.3 is perfect. While resembling a statue in the pocket, Brady was only hurried once all game. Brady’s quarterback skill was evident when Quentin Groves rushed the blind side, and Brady ducked away from a potential strip and sack combination. That is one reason Brady has three Super Bowl rings.
Best Patriots in Supporting Roles: Randy Moss and Wes Welker, starting wide receivers – It was too difficult to choose between Moss or Welker. Moss – three of his four catches were touchdowns – and Welker – 13 receptions for 138 yards – are both productive in their own ways. As you can see, Moss is a touchdown machine, and Welker catches everything but the common cold. With those touchdowns Sunday, Moss stretched his record of 10 or more touchdowns in a season to nine. Not to be outdone, for the third consecutive season, Welker has caught 110 or more balls, which had never been accomplished in NFL history. Now do you understand why it was so difficult to select one over the other?
Best Sound Editing: “We’re just not able to rush the quarterback well enough or cover their receivers well enough to slow them down. And, I think that was pretty obvious early.” – Head coach Jack Del Rio commenting on Sunday’s game against the Patriots. That quote sums it up in a nutshell.
Best Animated Short (goes to the player with the most passion on the field): Anthony Smith, starting safety – First-year Jaguar safety Smith started in place of the ineffective Reggie Nelson. Smith, a former Ram and Steeler, made four solo tackles Sunday – two of which were whopping hits on receiver Wes Welker. They were shots Nelson would have made in college. In my opinion, Smith deserves the start next week in Cleveland. His intensity was similar to what Tyron Brackenridge brought to the Jaguars in the preseason and in four regular-season starts.
Tweet of the Week (Twitter post): “Today was a wonderful day… Blessed to have family and loved ones to share this Holiday with me.” – defensive end Reggie Hayward on Christmas Day.
Linebacker Tank Daniels
Safety Courtney Greene
Offensive guard Paul McQuistan
Center Cecil Newton
Defensive tackle Greg Peterson
Tight end Zach Potter
Offensive tackle Tra Thomas
Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood
Other Jaguar notes:
With Clint Ingram on injured reserve, rookie linebacker Russell Allen received his fourth start this season. In Allen’s second consecutive start, he was in on four tackles.
On the first drive of the game, Patriot Laurence Maroney fumbled at the Jaguars’ 1, and linebacker Daryl Smith recovered it. Defensive tackle John Henderson was credited with the forced fumble, but I saw Derrick Harvey rip the ball out of Maroney’s hands.
Along with the fumble recovery, Daryl Smith led the Jaguars with 10 total tackles.
In the second quarter, Reggie Nelson did not attempt a tackle on Sammy Morris’ 55-yard run to the Jaguars’ 11. Instead, Nelson placed a hand on Morris’ hip. In nickel duty, Nelson made four tackles, which is surprising because tackling is still an issue for him.
Veteran Torry Holt had two receptions for 23 yards before he left with a sprained finger. He went to the locker room for X-rays.
Rookie running back Rashad Jennings had five touches for 44 yards. His big play was a 22-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Mike Sims-Walker only made two grabs for 19 yards. He hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs.