With a win over the undefeated New England Patriots on Saturday night, the Jaguars will achieve a level of fame for which the franchise and its fans could only dream. With a win on Saturday at Gillette Field, the Jaguars will ruin the Patriots' quest for perfection and, in the process, achieve immortality.
Fred Taylor is the only player on the Jaguars' roster left from the disappointment of the team's 1999 AFC title game loss to the Tennessee Titans. A win over the Patriots will go a long way toward easing Taylor's pain.
"I thought the AFC championship game was the biggest game" in franchise history, said Taylor, who admitted that Saturday's game could become the new standard. "It's going to be hard to beat them. They're so disciplined," Taylor added.
No one has beaten the Patriots. They are 16-0, rested, healthy and ready to win number 17 on Saturday night.
Pressure to win?
"Everybody is in the same boat. If we win, we move on. Records really don't mean anything at this point," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
Belichick has the best quarterback in the league, Tom Brady, and a defense loaded with playoff-tested veterans. How do you beat the Patriots? Most experts would agree that the Jaguars must dominate time of possession with their running game and keep Brady off the field.
"Just score points," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said. "When we get into the red zone, just score points. We have to work the process and sometimes it takes 15 plays and, hopefully, we can get a few of those drives."
A win by the Patriots would send them into the AFC title game against either San Diego or Indianapolis. It would be at Gillette Stadium. The Jaguars would advance to the AFC title game, in either San Diego or Indianapolis, with a win over the Patriots.
"They're good at everything," Belichick said of the Jaguars. "They can run the ball. They have big-play receivers. The quarterback is having an outstanding year. They don't turn the ball over. They don't have very many penalties. They play good on defense; stop the run, turn the ball over, intercept a lot of passes, rush the passer.
"I think they're sound. They're very physical. They're well-coached," Belichick added, making the Jaguars sound as though they are the overwhelming favorite in this game. The Patriots, of course, are.
Garrard played in a mop-up role in the Jaguars' 28-3 loss to the Patriots in the 2005 playoffs.
"The game was extremely fast; faster than a regular season game. There was definitely more hype to it, but I knew when I got up there that I could make enough plays and could do some things. That's what we're going to need to do, make plays," Garrard said.
Garrard made the play of the game in the Jaguars' 31-29 win over the Steelers last Saturday, in a wild-card round game. His 32-yard run set up Josh Scobee's game-winning field goal.
"They don't do things that are real confusing," Garrard said when asked what challenges the Patriots defense presents. "They get a good pass-rush and they have good players on their defense. They've got older, veteran players that play smart and they know where their weaknesses are and they know how to avoid those weaknesses. They do a great job of making plays on defense."
This is a game that is being regarded mostly for its historical perspective, as the Patriots want to become the first team in the 16-game era to march undefeated to a Super Bowl title. As a result of that pursuit, pressure to win is thought to be much greater on the Patriots than it is on the Jaguars.
"I don't know that I buy into that, but I have heard that we are playing with house money. I've been trying to figure out what that means," Garrard said. "If we execute and do our job like we have been taught all year long, then we can play with anybody."