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Quick-trigger turnaround

Posted Dec 11, 2011

Record-tying second-quarter gives Jaguars memorable 41-14 victory over Tampa Bay.

For the first time in a while, Maurice Jones-Drew couldn’t have been happier.

But Jones-Drew, the Jaguars’ two-time Pro Bowl running back, said it wasn’t the career-high four touchdowns or the team record he achieved – which he did say means a great deal – that had him smiling late Sunday afternoon. The reason, he said, was far more basic.

The feeling of victory? It just felt really good.

Jones-Drew ran for two touchdowns and caught two more, and the Jaguars’ defense and special teams combined to force a franchise-record seven turnovers. The result was a 41-14 come-from-behind victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a cold, wet, gray Sunday afternoon at EverBank Field.

“We won – that’s all I’m happy about,” Jones-Drew said.

For a quarter on Sunday, the mood was very different, and matched the dreary conditions.

One memorable, historical quarter changed all that.

Trailing 14-0 after the first quarter, the Jaguars in the second quarter tied a franchise record with 28 points, and scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. The only other time in franchise history they accomplished either task was November 1, 1998, against the Baltimore Ravens.

The touchdowns came in quick-trigger fashion and in 7:32, turning a 14-point deficit into a 14-point halftime lead:

*An 8-yard return with a fumbled punt by tight end Colin Cloherty with 7:36 remaining.

*A 1-yard run by Jones-Drew with 2:05 remaining.

*A fumble recovery in the end zone by defensive tackle Nate Collins with 1:53 remaining.

*A 5-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert to Jones-Drew with :04 remaining.

The Jaguars hadn’t scored 20 points in a game in the first 12 games of the season.

On Sunday, they scored 21 in 2:01.

“It was great,” Jaguars wide receiver Jarett Dillard said. “With the way the game started off, it all came together – defense, offense and special teams. We weren’t going to quit. We all love this game. We don’t just play it to play it. We play it because we love it. When the chips are down, we’re still busting our tails trying to prove something.

“We’ve had a lot of games where we were close to showing the world we’re a great team. Today, we actually put it all together. We really beat them convincingly and that’s the stamp we put on this. It wasn’t just an OK win. It was a decisive win.”

Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker called it “a good team win.”

“We have great leadership on our team – our coaches, our seasoned group of guys – so when you believe in what you’re doing, at some point, the pendulum is going to swing our way,” said Tucker, who 12 days ago took over as interim coach after the firing of Head Coach Jack Del Rio.

“You just keep playing football. You keep talking about the next play. When you have that mentality of, ‘You don’t get too high or too low,’ you have to be able to handle adversity in anything that you do.’ That was a great lesson for us today and it paid off for us.”

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak. Afterward, players doused Tucker with a Gatorade cooler before Jones-Drew awarded him a game ball in the locker room to honor his first career victory.

“It was big,” Jaguars defensive tackle Tyson Alualu said. “It’s a great feeling for us to have and something we need to start getting used to. All the work that we’ve put in will pay off if we keep it up this way. It’s important to us, because we just try to control what we can, which is to go out and give everything we’ve got.”

Gabbert had his most productive day as a starter. A week after throwing two second-quarter touchdown passes, Gabbert threw two more touchdowns Sunday, completing  19 of 33 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

Gabbert’s 62-yard pass to Lewis set up the Jaguars’ tying touchdown, the 1-yard run in the second quarter by Jones-Drew.

The Jaguars held Tampa Bay to 280 yards total offense, with the defense forcing five turnovers. Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman completed 16 of 30 passes for 181 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.

The Jaguars’ defense, playing without injured ends Matt Roth, Aaron Kampman and John Chick, sacked Freeman twice and pressured him throughout. Ashton Youbouty and Kevin Rutland, starting after injuries ended the seasons of the Jaguars’ three top cornerbacks – Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and Will Middleton – each registered an interception.

“In the NFL, unfortunately things happen – people go down,” Alualu said. “It’s Next Man Up. We have the right personnel and there’s no dropoff in the next guy. It goes to show the great coaching we have here.”

Jones-Drew continued his memorable season on a memorable day. He entered the day leading the NFL in rushing, and after rushing for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, he has 1,222 yards and seven touchdowns for the season.

He also on Sunday passed Fred Taylor for first place on the franchise’s all-time touchdowns list. Jones-Drew now has 73 for his career; Taylor, with whom Jones-Drew played from 2006-2008, finished his 11-year Jaguars career with 70.

“It means a lot,” Jones-Drew said. “To break a record that Fred set, it means a bunch to me. Words can’t really explain how excited I am to have a guy that mentored me the whole time, taught me how to play this game the right way,  how to take care of my body and do the right things . . .

“To come out and break the touchdown record makes me very excited.”

Jones-Drew, who also credited the offensive line, said the same was true of the victory. He had talked Monday after a loss to San Diego about the Jaguars needing victory someway, somehow, and of the offense just needing to score more points. On Sunday, at last, the Jaguars did just that.

“We needed it very badly,” Jones-Drew said. “That’s why we play this game. You don’t play for individual accolades. Those come with wins. To get a victory, and put up the points we did as an offense, and our special teams, that’s huge.

“All year, we put up 14 (points) and we finally had a good game. It definitely helped a bunch.”

Also for the Jaguars Sunday:

*Tucker said he liked a lot of what he saw from Gabbert, specifically discussing the 62-yard pass to Lewis. Tucker said Gabbert made the right reads on the play, and stood in the pocket under pressure. “Those are the things you look for in your quarterback,” Tucker said.

*Lewis said veterans have remained supportive of Gabbert throughout the season. “The criticism, that’s going to happen,” Lewis said. “We’re in a positive that that’s going to happen. That’s when you put in perspective the things that are important to you. That’s why it’s my job and the veteran guys around him to keep his mind in the right place. That’s what we’ve been doing. People hate me and love me the next day. That’s our job as leaders, to be there when he’s feeling a certain way and to talk him through it. That’s what we’ve done.”

* Buccaneers CB E.J. Biggers on Gabbert: “He didn’t play like a rookie. He did everything he had to do. He helped his team win and you couldn’t tell he was a rookie quarterback.”

*Wide receiver Mike Thomas left the game with a concussion and did not return and rookie wide receiver Cecil Shorts left with a hamstring injury. By game’s end, the Jaguars were playing with Chastin West, Jarett Dillard and Kassim Osgood at wide receiver.

*Kicker Josh Scobee left late in the game with what Tucker called tightness in his right leg. The Jaguars attempted a two-point conversion following their final touchdown, and linebacker Russell Allen kicked a short kickoff on the ensuing play. “The best thing at that point was to shut him down,” Tucker said of Scobee.

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