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Accept the fact it was a great game

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Lee from Stuart, FL:
Why did the Jaguars take the wind in the third quarter of a close game on the road when you know most games come down to the end anyway? Lindell doesn't make that kick if he's kicking into that wind in the fourth quarter.

Vic: Coaches aren't clairvoyant. Jack Del Rio was trailing 17-14 at halftime and he probably wanted to get off to a fast start in the second half so he elected to take the wind at his back right away. If he had known the game would come down to a Bills field goal attempt on the final play of the game, he may have elected to face the wind in the third quarter. The biggest reason for taking the wind to start the third quarter was to establish field position right away. Josh Scobee booted the second-half kickoff into the end zone and Terrence McGee returned it to the Bills 15. Buffalo promptly had a three-and-out and Jacksonville regained possession at the 50. Wouldn't you say that was successful strategy by a coach who was trailing by three points? If he had kicked off into the wind, Buffalo may have returned it to the 40 or better.

John from Jacksonville:
Did you see the hold on Starks on the punt return? How could they miss that?

Vic: I watched the game tape of the punt return and I saw Tony Gilbert possibly blocked in the back, I saw another Jaguars player possibly clipped and I saw number 27 for the Bills tugging at Scott Starks' left shoulder. You'd think you'd get at least one of those called.

Tim from Springfield, PA:
You said to put the conference champs in a playoff, but what about Notre Dame, which doesn't have a conference?

Vic: It's time Notre Dame joins the rest of college football. It's time they start playing on the same field with everybody else, which means sharing the wealth. I don't know the legalities of pressuring Notre Dame to join a conference, but I'm sure there are ways to persuade them to do so. For example, let's say it was a seven-conference playoffs with one at-large berth, for which Notre Dame would qualify but wouldn't necessarily be given. That at-large berth this year, for example, might go to Michigan. After enough seasons of not getting into the playoffs, Notre Dame would either come off its high horse or its horse would begin shrinking.

James from Philadelphia, PA:
Cortez Hankton inactive on Sunday? I was looking forward to seeing what he could do. Any idea what happened to change Del Rio's mind after he was hinting at giving Hankton a chance to step up?

Vic: Hankton had a hamstring.

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico:
Regarding your comment about offense and defense in college football, do you think it's easier to make the jump to the NFL for offensive players?

Vic: No, I don't think it's easier for offensive players to make the jump because the offensive playbook is very demanding. Because so few college players are drafted, the gap in talent that exists between offensive and defensive players in college doesn't exist in the draft. The NFL can certainly find a hundred or so defensive players of talent equal to the best offensive players. There were 129 offensive players selected in the 2006 draft; 122 on defense. The balance is for an obvious reason.

Dan from Rochester, NY:
I was at the game, 20 rows up, and the Matt Jones' TD catch was at our end of the field. I saw Matt bobble the ball and the first thing that popped into my head was hurry up with the extra point. The question I have for you, Vic, is with five minutes left in the first quarter, Losman passed deep for Evans and it was intercepted by Dee Webb, and from what I saw, it looked like when he fell down the ground caused the fumble. Did you get a better look at this?

Vic: I didn't get any kind of look at it on replay review. I kept waiting for TV to show me something but it didn't. Again, because of the low-profile nature of this game, it didn't allow for much in the way of camera angles. That's where the replay review system really fails. The low-end games just don't offer the resources the high-end games do and you can't blame TV because officiating is not part of TV's responsibility. Replay review piggybacks TV's function and that's an odd circumstance for the most powerful officiating tool in all of sports.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
I know you have received hundreds of e-mails from angry fans today, so I thought I would say that what I saw Sunday was a great game. Yeah, the Jags lost and there were things they could have done better, but the Bills played great.

Vic: That's what's getting lost in all of the angst over the loss. It was a great football game. Not a very good football game; a great football game. It had a little bit of everything in it: great runs, great pass plays, a great punt return, intense defense, coin toss strategy, replay review, etc. The Jaguars didn't lose it; the Bills won it. Everybody wants to win and disappointment is inevitable when you lose, but life goes on, win or lose.

Nick from Annapolis, MD:
You forgot to mention one reason the Jaguars lost the game: they were one for 11 on third down.

Vic: I mentioned it prominently in my postgame column. You need to read all of the material because it all fits together to form one large coverage picture.

Casey from Atlanta, GA:
The season isn't over, yet. This is exactly the time of year when Pitt made its Super Bowl run.

Vic: On this day a year ago, the Steelers lost in Indianapolis on Monday Night Football. They were embarrassed by the Colts. The following Sunday, the Steelers lost at home to Cincinnati and Bill Cowher wanted to shut down Ben Roethlisberger for the season so he could have thumb surgery. Roethlisberger told Cowher he wanted to put the surgery off and see if he could play wearing some kind of splint under a glove. The Steelers then won eight in a row, including three playoff games on the road. If you think it can't be done, think about what the Steelers did. To this day, I believe it helped the Steelers that they had reached a point of surrender. It took the pressure off them to make the playoffs and they got on a roll. All of a sudden, they felt invincible. They felt destined. That's all it would take for a team such as the Jaguars. If they'll just relax and win a couple of games, everything might change. Once a team gets that team-of-destiny feeling, look out.

Chadwin from Oak Ridge, TN:
Looking at the recent wins and losses for the Jags, I came up with this: The games the Jags won, the average score was 25-7, a difference of plus-18 points. The games the Jags lost, the average score was 25-17, a difference of minus-eight points. Besides the 20-point loss to Houston, all of the Jags losses have been by a touchdown or less. So what do you make of this? Did I spend too much time on this for nothing?

Vic: It would seem.

James from Jacksonville:
You are 100 percent correct. I do not respect the Texans and I don't respect a Redskins team that has paid money out the nose for no return. And I do not respect a Bills team with a QB that has been considered a failure until this month.

Vic: So how can you expect to get respect if you won't give respect?

Justin from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I don't think I have seen you address the Brett Favre situation in Green Bay. Fortunately, you have ingrained in us "this is a game of replacement, not maintenance," so why does the Green Bay front office prevent their team from moving forward, instead of maintaining a declining QB? It is selfish of Favre to hold Green Bay hostage and it is foolish of management and the coaching staff to continue to pander to him.

Vic: I addressed this previously and I got angry e-mails from people who scolded me for not understanding that Favre is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He's a "gunslinger," you know. Yuk! This whole thing has become so distasteful I can't even watch the Packers play. I turned on the TV and watched the pretty snow for a while, then I saw Favre do one of those chuck-and-duck passes where he falls back, pinches his shoulders and drops his chin as he throws, and then I turned off the TV and went to bed. That stuff was OK when he was young. It was kind of cute-looking back then. Now he looks like a fragile old man. The real loser in all of this is rookie head coach Mike McCarthy, who's done a decent job keeping the Packers competitive. McCarthy's problem, however, is that he will have wasted this whole season on a guy who has to be bye-bye when the season ends. McCarthy wasted his free-pass year on the past. That's a shame.

James from Puyallup, WA:
As witnessed by the Monday night Packers-Seahawks game, NFL football played in the snow is always highly entertaining. What are the most memorable snow games that you have covered?

Vic: There's one that jumps out above all others: the 1976 Pittsburgh at Cincinnati game. It was a four o'clock game the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which gave it high TV ratings. It was for the division title, but it wasn't the importance of the game that made it so great. It was the snow and the way it snowed. Not a flake fell in the first half. Just as the teams began to leave the field for halftime, the first flake fell. A few seconds later, we were in a white-out. When the players came back out for the second half, they were stunned by what they saw. They felt as though they had been transported to another stadium. The field was completely covered by snow and it was getting deeper by the minute. Everything was white and whatever plans were made at halftime had to be altered. Jaguars quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson was the Bengals quarterback in that game. "We scrambled to send someone to our practice field to get our grass cleats," Anderson recalls. The halftime weather change caused a change in the way the NFL handled the second half coin toss elections. Up to and including that game, the referee would ask the teams as they headed into their halftime locker rooms what their second-half elections were. Because of the halftime snow in Cincinnati, the NFL changed that policy. From then on, teams weren't asked what they wanted to do until they returned to the field for the second half. The game came down to a fourth-down play. Joe Greene took off his shoes and socks so he could get better traction. Anderson dropped back to pass and saw Chip Meyers alone in the back-corner of the end zone. It would've been the game-winner. The game ended with Dwight White lying on his stomach and tugging on Anderson's front leg. Anderson would pump and White would tug. I'll never forget the sight of it. When the ball came out, it didn't have enough juice on it to reach Meyers. It was one of the greatest games I have ever covered and it is famous for the "Sports Illustrated" picture of the "Steel Curtain" standing at the line of scrimmage, outlined against a backdrop of white.

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