MJD Gets Down (Getty Images)
After a fantastic start to Sunday's game at New York when the Jaguars scored on three of their first four possessions, it took a couple heads up plays by their stars to secure a last-second victory.
This particular game was a story of two completely different halves for the Jaguars offense, as they were able to pound Maurice Jones-Drew prior to intermission, which led to some easy play action opportunities for David Garrard.
"All week we talked about the fact that it was going to be a real physical game," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "I talked to the offensive line about the fact that we had to get Maurice going and that it was up to them to move the front. We were determined to come in here and get Maurice established. We worked real hard at that. I thought the combination of what we planned, how we blocked, and how Maurice hit it came off real well and effectively. It was a great start for us."
Jones-Drew handled the ball on each of the five plays of the Jaguars opening possession as he ran mostly up the middle and punctuated the drive with a 33-yard touchdown run. Jones-Drew accounted for 55 yards on the drive and set the tone for the first half.
"The offensive line did a great job pass blocking and run blocking," Jones-Drew said as he deflected praise as he normally does. "Greg Jones did a great job blocking and our receivers were making catches."
The Jaguars had a 21-13 advantage at the break and it appeared as if they couldn't be stopped on offense.
Then the Jets made their typical halftime adjustments.
"The Jets defense did a good job," Jones-Drew said. "They came out and made some adjustments and stopped our running game a little bit. They were beating us on the line and the defense was real tired."
The Jets adjustments were so effective that the Jaguars didn't even record a first down until their final possession. Jacksonville had four three-and-outs with one more one-play drive that resulted in a fumble when David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew couldn't connect on a hand-off.
As Jets rookie signal caller Mark Sanchez began to feel more comfortable, the Jaguars looked destined to let yet another game slip away. Sanchez marched his team down the field 77 yards on 16 plays against a Jaguars defense that was certainly gassed from being on the field for much of the second half. Thomas Jones put the Jets ahead on a one-yard touchdown plunge at 22-21, but the Jags defense made a key stop on the Jets ensuing two-point conversion.
With 5:04 remaining in the game, it was up to David Garrard and company to rescue an uplifting victory from the jaws of disappointment. Up to that point, Garrard was just two for six for 11 yards in the second half, including a sack and a fumble lost.
"The Jets came out in the second half with a new agenda," Garrard said. "Bring pressure strong and weak, overload everything. We were trying to do our best to pick some of those things up, but it seemed they we’re always bringing one more guy than we could pick up. I said it last week that we were going to have some big plays and we were going to have some little plays. At the start of the second half we had a lot of little plays, a lot of three and outs."
The Jaguars picked up their initial first down of the second half as Garrard hit rookie Zach Miller on the left side for 11 yards. Then, standout receiver Mike Sims-Walker made a play that will be little more than a blurb on the stat sheet, as he dove and knocked away an errant David Garrard throw that would've been a sure game-ending interception just before it landed in Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis' arms.
"Mike Walker made one of the biggest plays in the game when he batted the ball away from Darrelle Revis so he didn’t pick the ball off," Jones-Drew explained. "That was a huge play. Guys were being unselfish and we were just making plays and everybody got the chance to touch the ball."
Although that play certainly saved the game, the most memorable tribute of unselfishness was performed by Maurice Jones-Drew as he simply took a knee just one yard prior to entering the end zone for what would have been his 13th touchdown of the season.
"The coach told me to take a knee," Jones-Drew said when asked about his final carry. "We were going to try to get them away from taking a time out. We knew they were going to try to let us score then try to get the ball back so they can run their two minute offense. They told me to get as close as I can and take a knee. I was looking for someone to tackle me but I saw that they were going to let us score. It was a great decision by coach to take a knee."
Although thousands of fantasy owners are less than thrilled with the Jaguars dynamic back's decision, Jones-Drew decided on what was infinitely more important which was the win.
"It was all a team effort," Jones-Drew said. "I didn’t want to be the one to just go out there and score, I wanted to be the one to seal the victory."
The all-out and intelligent efforts by Mike Sims-Walker and Maurice Jones-Drew at the end of the game to swat a pass away and to take a knee were every bit as important to the team than the fantastic touchdowns that each of the players scored. Those kinds of plays are a main reason why the Jaguars are 5-4 and in the thick of the wild-card race.