MJD Scores (Getty Images)
The Jaguars have had trouble finishing games this season, as each of their five losses have come by one score or less. That was not a problem on Sunday, as the Jaguars were dominant for much of the game en route to crushing the Detroit Lions, 38-14.
"Good solid effort today,” Coach Jack Del Rio told reporters following the game. “The team really practiced well all week. We kind of re-dedicated ourselves, this week, to some of the things that we believe in. (We) got back to that. It was good to see the guys carried over a real good week of practice with a real good performance today. So, nice solid victory-I liked the way we were able to get the ball, run the ball today, and gave David (Garrard) some time to do some nice things and I thought he played well. It was a good day."
Although many Jaguars had good stats, there wasn’t any particular star of the game, which was seemingly one of the team’s formulas for success a year ago.
“I think that's what having a good team victory's about,” Del Rio said. “There wasn't any one guy. There were a lot of different individual performances. I think Gerald (Sensabaugh) played well and did some nice things and the secondary; obviously that was a big block right there, where they have a chance to climb back within seven and for him to get a block there, and then we took the ball from there and went down and scored. (It was) certainly a big moment - a big swing right there. I believe we possessed the ball from that block until late in the 3rd quarter. So we really took control of the game right there. So it was a big play."
David Garrard was very efficient as he hit on 18 of 25 throws and had a quarterback rating of 128.4, mainly due to great protection by his much-maligned offensive line.
"Yeah, they played great,” Garrard said of his protectors. “They wouldn't have had any sacks if I had thrown the ball at the feet of my running back on that play; that was a screenplay and Detroit played it well, and I could've just got the ball in my hands and threw it right at his feet and wouldn't have gave up that one sack. They played great all day. The receivers did a great job of making all the catches, running the routes, defining them for me, giving me all the confidence in the world to throw the ball down the field to them. And Matt (Jones) showed up again today, making some big catches in the 3rd and 4th downs for us. We've just got to build on this and really let it springboard us into the second half of our season and allow it to just give us that motivation and that momentum that we need."
The Jaguars were able to run the ball effectively for the first time since the before the bye week, as they pounded out 157 yards on just 33 attempts (which included two kneel downs at the end of the game).
"Well, we definitely wanted to establish our running game again,” said Garrard. “We've been feeling like, 'where is it at?' these last few weeks and to be able to come out and really impose our will today-and the run game, it was a great thing because that's a lot of what we use to do all last year, no matter who we played. That was good for this offense."
Maurice Jones-Drew averaged nearly seven yards per carry on the game and scored three touchdowns, and was quick to give credit to the guys up front.
"The offensive line did a great job,” said the 5’7” dynamo. “Throughout the week we committed ourselves and the O-line wanted to run the ball. We worked hard this week to try to get it done. Sometimes in the game it wasn't pretty, but we went with it and that is all you have to do. They did a great job of opening holes and the receivers were downfield blocking. When David (Garrard) was able to pass and he wanted to throw it, David threw well. When you have a complete offense like that, you're going to do well."
The Jaguars were certainly firing on all cylinders, but how much of that was the quality, or lack thereof, of their opponent?
"It didn't really matter,” veteran defensive end Paul Spicer explained. “It was another team in the NFL. We went up to Cincinnati last week and they hadn't won a game either, so we couldn't come in here and just take these guys easily. This team still gets after it and they played very hard on film. There is no give up in this team. The Detroit Lions early on in the game, it was a football game. It kind of got out of hand as the game went on, but there was no give up. I don't think they have guys in there locker room willing to give up and lay down just because they have a few points scored on them."
Outside linebacker Justin Durant echoed Spicer’s sentiment—
“We played a winless team last week and they beat us. We just have to focus on every opponent. Everybody has the ability to beat you. We had a good focus this week in practice, we had a great week and we came out here and we played well today."
The Jaguars are in a feel-good mode right now after their most impressive victory of the season, but a daunting task awaits them next Sunday in the form of the undefeated Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars must do what no team has done this season if they’re going to keep up in the AFC wildcard race, where they are currently two games behind.