The NFL: Where anything can happen. I write this specifically as it pertains to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the roller coaster-like season they’ve experienced this year. After losing in back-to-back weeks by a combined 49 points, no one could have expected a dominant performance out of Jacksonville on Sunday, even if it was playing the mixed-up Cowboys. The Jags were every bit of dominant, however, embarrassing the Cowboys, 35-17. Perhaps more surprising, the Jaguar offense did a large majority of its damage through the air, a feat no one associated with the franchise is at all accustomed to. On defense, the Jags struggled a bit early, but more than made up for their inconsistencies with big-time, opportunistic plays, including four interceptions. Below I’ve included some notes and observations from the shocking, but impressive Jaguar victory.
-David Garrard had BY FAR his best game of the year. In addition to completing 17-of-21 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns, Garrard also did a great job limiting his own mistakes. He did fumble once in the first quarter, but it was on more of a fluky play, as the ball was stripped from him just before his arm began moving forward on an attempted pass. Turnovers are never really acceptable, but this one would have been hard to avoid.
-As good as Garrard was, he may have been the third best player on offense for Jacksonville on Sunday. Marcedes Lewis had only two catches for 51 yards, but they were as efficient a two catches as one could have, as both went for scores.
-I wrote that Garrard may have been Jacksonville’s third-best offensive player because Lewis was great while receiver Mike Sims-Walker was virtually unstoppable. He was targeted 10 times on the day, and caught an impressive eight of those passes for 153 yards and a score.
-Of course, I can’t leave out Maurice Jones-Drew, who also had a big day, rushing 27 times for 135 yards.
-For emphasis, it’s worth stating again: The Jacksonville passing attack was shockingly crisp on Sunday. Not only has Jacksonville struggled throwing the football all year, but the Dallas pass defense was among the NFL’s leading units heading into the game, making the success of the Jaguars passing attack all the more surprising, and impressive.
-Not to take anything away from the great win on Sunday, but, over the last two weeks, Dallas has looked about as disinterested as any team in the league. They look almost like they don’t care, and it’s impossible to win in the NFL with that kind of mentality.
-The Jaguar defense was dominant in the third quarter, and a bit relaxed in the fourth, when the game was pretty much over. In the first half, however, Dallas moved the ball with relative ease between the 20s, but Jacksonville always seemed to come up with a big play. In addition to intercepting three, tipped John Kitna passes, the Jaguar defense came up with a huge stop just before halftime, stuffing Dallas on 3rd and 4th and goal from the Jacksonville 1-yard line.
-For the day, Kitna completed 34-of-49 passes for 379 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. Dallas ran the ball 22 times for 50 yards and a score. For whatever reason, the Cowboys have struggled rushing the football all year, and Sunday was clearly no different.
-It’s worth noting that Derek Cox was on the receiving end of two of the interceptions, Rashean Mathis was responsible for one, and, surprisingly, big Terrance Knighton came up with the fourth.
-Again, this was clearly Jacksonville’s best offensive performance of the season, and probably its best all-around performance as well. Still, it’s hard to determine whether Jacksonville was dominant or if Dallas was that miserable. We should be able to answer that question at least in part in two weeks, when a top team from Houston travels to Jacksonville.
That’s all the time I’ve got for today. The Jags are off next weekend, so I won’t be posting my usual Sunday breakdown on Wednesday. I will report on any breaking news relevant to the team, however, so be sure to check back here periodically throughout the week. Until then, be good and keep reading.
Scott can be reached at Scott.Janovitz@gmail.com
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Written by Scott Janovitz