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Time to move on

Posted Sep 10, 2012

Jaguars Coach Mike Mularkey’s message after season-opening loss: "We need to get over this one"

A day later, Mike Mularkey said he was thankful for game film.

Mularkey, in his first season as the Jaguars’ head coach, said while players were understandably disappointed with a 26-23 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the regular-season opener Sunday, a review of the game revealed much with which to be pleased.

Mainly, Mularkey said the Jaguars had every chance and reason to not be in Sunday’s game.

That they were, Mularkey said, is a good thing.

“I thought we could have played better than we did, but even with that, for us to have a chance to win when we didn’t play our best, I thought was a positive sign for this football team,” Mularkey said Monday.

“I just told them, ‘We need to get over this one.’ Just like you need to get over wins, we need to get over losses and move on to the next one as quickly as we can and not let this disappointment affect next week’s game, which is very important for us.

“I think they got the message.”

Mularkey said he emphasizes the so-called “24-hour rule,” meaning the loss must be in the past mentally by 4 p.m. Monday.

“I think this group will do that,” he said.

The Jaguars, after leading 9-0 late in the first half Sunday, trailed 20-15 before quarterback Blaine Gabbert found wide receiver Cecil Shorts for a go-ahead, 39-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds remaining. A two-point conversion made it 23-20.

But after the Vikings returned the kickoff to the 31 with 14 seconds remaining, two quick passes by quarterback Christian Ponder put the Vikings in range for a 55-yard field goal by rookie kicker Blair Walsh that tied the game.

Walsh converted from 38 yards with 11:06 remaining in overtime, and the Jaguars’ ensuing drive did not net a first down, leaving the Jaguars disappointed and winless entering the 2012 regular-season home opener Sunday against defending AFC South champion Houston.

“It’s football,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “We always say it can come to the last play, the last drive. That just put us into overtime. We still had a chance after that (the final drive of regulation). Tuck (defensive coordinator Mel Tucker) always says, ‘Think that it might come down to the last two minutes.’ Most games do. You have to prepare yourself to win those ballgames when it comes down to the last couple of plays.”

The Jaguars enter the week of the home opener with injury concerns at several positions, with running back Rashad Jennings (knee) and offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield (leg) awaiting MRI results as of Monday afternoon. Mularkey said Bradfield and Jennings could miss at least two weeks.

Left guard Eben Britton sustained an ankle injury Sunday, and Mularkey said while he doesn’t believe Britton’s injury is long-term, he is questionable for Sunday. Right guard Uche Nwaneri re-aggravated an ankle injury in the first half, but returned and finished the game.

Mularkey said Nwaneri should be ready by Sunday.

The Jaguars already have players such as center John Estes (knee) and guard Will Rackley (ankle) on injured reserve, with defensive end Austen Lane (foot), and defensive end George Selvie (knee) unlikely to play Sunday.

“This is the most foot and ankle injuries I’ve ever been around,” Mularkey said. “If you think about the number of linemen that we’ve lost with it, it’s unheard of. We have an unbelievable number of injuries to that part of the body. More than I’ve ever been around.”

Mularkey also said linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) likely will not practice Wednesday and could miss Sunday’s game, while cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring) likely will be limited Wednesday and is uncertain for Sunday.

Mularkey said rookie center/guard Mike Brewster played well in place of Britton at guard, and that veteran tackle Guy Whimper played well considering the quality of his opponent.

Mularkey said while injuries are a concern going forward, he said the start to the game was positive, particularly an early 17-play, 77-yard drive that gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead.

“It’s hard to sustain drives that long in this league,” Mularkey said, adding that overall, “There are a lot of good things to build off of...”

“There’s proof on tape of what we’re capable of doing. We just have to be more consistent.”

Mularkey said the Jaguars must still reduce penalties and dropped passes, and as he said often during the preseason, tackling remains an issue defensively.

“There are a lot of things we recognize we did well,” Mularkey said, “but there are things the players definitely know we can do better.”

Said defensive end Jeremy Mincey, “That’s one of those games where you have to learn from it. There were a lot of mistakes made. We have to put it behind us. We have a division rivalry game. We just have to be prepared and get ready for the Texans.

“Yesterday was important because it’s a loss, but you have to put that behind you and focus on division play.”

Mularkey said he believes the Jaguars will do that, and he said what he believes a lot of what he saw Sunday – not only late in the game but throughout – will serve the team well the rest of the season.

“Our guys went out and had a chance to win,” Mularkey said. “We plugged some holes, especially on the offensive line and to have a chance to win, even in overtime, was a great learning process. If we can get over the hump and make some of those plays, not put us in that position, we’ll win more games.”

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