If this were college football, this win for the Jaguars would probably drop them several spots in the all-important rankings. In the NFL, the Jaguars 23-20 victory means the very same as the New England Patriots 59-0 shellacking of the Tennessee Titans.
"In this league, no one's ever what their record says," Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said when asked about his team's less than impressive victory. "Any given Sunday you can lose."
The Jaguars tested that theory against a St. Louis Rams team which has now lost 16 consecutive games and nearly pulled off the upset.
"The Rams played a great game, we just executed a little better at the end," Jones-Drew told reporters following the game.
Maurice Jones-Drew was the main reason why the Jaguars were able to avoid the letdown and get back to .500 as he pulled off a hat trick, scoring three touchdowns while running for 133 yards on 33 carries. Jones-Drew also caught five passes for 45 yards. His 38 touches were more than he had the previous two weeks combined, which is something he was upset with earlier in the week.
"It wasn't to challenge the coaches or anything," Jones-Drew said of his comments earlier in the week. "I just wanted to show people my frustration of losing."
If Jones-Drew didn't put forth his heroic effort on Sunday, the frustration of losing to the hapless St. Louis Rams is something that could've boiled over and caused a split in the locker room.
The Jaguars defense bent and broke down early, as they allowed St. Louis to go 73 yards on nine plays to open the game, the drive capped by a 17-yard Marc Bulger to Donnie Avery touchdown pass. The extra point gave the Rams more points than their yearly average less than five minutes into the game.
After an impressive answer by the Jaguars in which they went 58 yards on five plays capped by a Maurice Jones-Drew four-yard touchdown run, the team began their afternoon of mishaps as punter/holder Adam Podlesh mishandled the snap on the extra point attempt and the Jaguars put six on the scoreboard instead of seven.
The Jaguars would then do almost as much as they could to lose the football game as David Garrard threw two interceptions, one going back for a touchdown, with several more interceptions dropped. Jones-Drew, the star of the game lost a fumble; The Jaguars defense missed tackles and blew coverages all over the field; The Jaguars special teams allowed a 58-yard kickoff return; Even the ultra-reliable Josh Scobee misfired on a long field goal.
In a game where there could've been several goats for the Jaguars which would have left fan confidence at a near all-time low, the Jaguars stared in the face of adversity following a Leonard Little interception return touchdown which gave the Rams a fourth-quarter lead, and came together for a victory.
"We fought so hard and we kept fighting and fighting," Jaguars leading receiver Mike Sims-Walker who had nine catches for 120 yards said. "We didn't blink one time. I think that's what made the victory so much better."
Make no mistake, this was far from an impressive victory. The Jaguars played down to their opponents and nearly coughed up a game in which they had 20 more first downs, nearly a two to one yardage advantage (492-262), and possessed the ball for better than 42 minutes. That said, every single member of the Rams organization would much rather have the Jaguars disappointing victory than the moral victory that the Rams flew home with this afternoon.