Photos: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images
The Jaguars used a 17+ minute time of possession advantage and 186 rushing yards to dominate the Denver Broncos 23-14, in front of a crowd of 76,463 at Invesco Field at Mile High.
The final score was not indicative of the physical pounding that the Jaguars put on the Broncos all afternoon long, as the Jaguars made a commitment to the running game, and stuck with it to the tune of 47 carries for 186 yards, led by Fred Taylor’s best output of the year, as he finished the day with 84 yards on 19 carries.
“It was a big deal in the media this week, and the guys take it to heart. I challenged the offensive line to knock the little guys out of the way to give room to me, Maurice [Jones-Drew] and Greg [Jones],” Taylor explained.
The Jaguars dominated the first half, scoring on three of their first four possessions en route to a 17-7 halftime advantage. The Jaguars ran the ball through a loaded up line of scrimmage for much of the game and found success against a Broncos defense that was ranked 27th in the league entering the contest. At one point in the first half, the Jaguars converted on seven of nine third down opportunities, for a staggering 77.7 % success ratio. Aside from Taylor’s 84 yards, David Garrard chipped in with 52 yards on 12 carries, and Maurice Jones-Drew added 37 yards on 15 carries.
Quarterback David Garrard continued his efficient play by completing 14 of 20 passes, for 154 yards and a touchdown. Garrard shredded the Broncos defense through the air and on the ground, as he played what was likely his best game as a pro.
Jaguars Coach Del Rio was pleased with what he saw from Garrard.
"He continues to progress and lead our offense. He did a lot of things well with his feet and he threw the ball well at key moments. He is a humble young man. He’s got some talent and has taken well to the coaching. When you see him improving it makes you proud as a coach. We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us, and he’s been great so far. Not only just with the quarterback, for our team to come into this environment we handled the noise very well. The quarterback set the tone for our offense. David did a good job making audibles in the noise. It was just a solid complete game in all the areas he was challenged in,” stated Del Rio
The tight ends were Garrard’s favorite targets, as Marcedes Lewis was the Jaguars leading receiver with three catches for 44 yards. Greg Estandia chipped in with a key 23-yard reception in the fourth quarter, and George Wrighster caught two balls for 11 yards. Dennis Northcutt had two catches for 37 yards, and Reggie Williams caught two balls for 11 yards, including his second touchdown in as many games.
The Jaguars defense put together its second impressive effort in as many weeks as they forced three Broncos turnovers, and allowed just 47 yards rushing, despite playing without Pro Bowl tackle John Henderson, who was out with a head injury. Denver quarterback Jay Cutler had a solid statistical game, as he completed 16 of 23 passes, for 222 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, but he led his Broncos on just two scoring drives. The NFL’s leading rusher entering the game, Travis Henry, was held to just 35 yards on 11 carries, as the Jaguars defense was in the Denver backfield, until the Broncos decided to abandon the run in the second half. Earlier this week, Jaguars linebacker Mike Peterson summed up what the Jaguars defense needed to do to stop Denver when he coined the phrase--
“Penetration rules the nation.”
Stroud explained after the game, "It’s a long season. We will take it in stride and keep going next week.”
The Jaguars returned to their run the ball, stop the run identity, and converted on eight of 16 third downs en route to their mauling of the normally physical Denver Broncos. Aside from some red zone futility (just 2/6, 33%), the Jaguars played a perfect game. David Garrard was both efficient and effective, as he took what the defense gave him, and made some great throws along the way. This win may have turned the season around for the Jaguars, as their record currently sits at 2-1 entering their bye week, just one game behind the undefeated Indianapolis Colts.