The following is Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell's diary for Oct. 4-Oct. 9, 2000.
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
The mindset was real upbeat and focused. We were happy to get out to practice. We had a real nice practice. We started out in pads and then coach took the pads off halfway through practice, which was a bone he threw to us. It said to us that we don't have to pound each other and everyone responded well. We had great tempo and great execution. Guys realized that we weren't putting pressure on ourselves. We knew that we could play with Baltimore. We've had a lot of success against Baltimore and we were very upbeat on Wednesday. I think guys were afraid to make mistakes and on Wednesday we brought that up to everybody. The buzz around the locker room was to play loose and have fun. Don't worry about making a mistake. If you make a mistake, make it going 100 miles per hour and we'll correct it on the film. I think that everyone preached that thought on Wednesday.
Thursday, October 5, 2000
We had a great Thursday practice that was focused on third downs against Baltimore. I don't think we had a great third-down conversion rate against those guys the first time, so, we emphasized third down to make sure we could keep the drives going. We wanted to make sure that we had third-and-short. Not third-and-12 and making the calls hard for coach. We wanted to have third-and-five, third-and-two. We worked on those plays and they went well. People were flying around in practice. Defense was getting turnovers. Offense was making plays. We were just flying around and very upbeat on Thursday. At home, my wife realized I was hurting. She tried not to bring it up because she's a very positive person. She said, "Just keep on going. You guys have won before and don't get down." We talk about it and it helps when you have someone at home reinforcing something that you're thinking. It helps because you get some extra confidence and I have never lost confidence. We had just put up 36 points on these guys. They didn't know what to expect. They didn't know how to stop us. We were just bouncing around the house saying we're going to win this game and let's get ready to have a great day on ESPN.
Friday, October 6, 2000
We had a very spirited Friday practice. Everybody was loose and laughing. Defense was flying around all week. From an offensive standpoint, you can feel when the defense is going to have a good game. We felt so good as a team and almost forgot about the two losses that we just had. We were, like, this is a new era, let's go. Friday came and went. We came out of the locker room laughing, joking, and that fellowship and camaraderie was there. We realized the task at hand was not a big task. We just had to go out and play our type of football. Friday afternoon, I was at the barbershop. I went and got my hair cut and twisted up. I was in there for about two-and-a-half hours getting my 'do right. That's just something that goes every two or three weeks. Then I went and got a massage. I did that to flush all of the lactic acid out of my body and get ready. I came home Friday night and just relaxed. I got in the bed around 10:30 p.m. It was one of those days when I said, 'I just need to get this rest.' It's not often when you can get in the bed at 10:30 and get that good rest.
Saturday, October 7, 2000
We came in Saturday and I felt great. I had some good sleep on Friday and everybody came in on Saturday knowing what was at hand. We knew we didn't have to put pressure on ourselves. If we put pressure on ourselves we knew we would play tight again. So everybody was real loose. Everybody was real spirited at the walk-through. We were just bouncing and, I know it was a walk-through, but you could tell by playing in the league long enough when people are ready to play. After the walk-through, I went and picked up my parents. My parents and their neighbors from Houston flew in and we sat around watching the Florida State-Miami game. I was pulling for Florida State, and I like Miami, but I felt Florida State was a better team. Like they say, on any given Saturday, any team can be beaten, especially in the state of Florida. You have great talent all around, and I give much respect to the Miami football team because they played a great game. My parents come in town to see me a lot. They get a chance to see me at the home games and on television. The time was good. I hadn't seen them since the Cincinnati game, so it's good to see them on a regular basis. Since they're coming from Houston, it's always good to see mom and dad. We had a little gumbo going on at the house, but I missed out on the gumbo Saturday night because I had to go to the hotel.
Sunday, October 8, 2000
We started early on Sunday. We had breakfast and I liked the aura around the team. We went through a couple of meetings after breakfast and then went back to the room. There really wasn't much to do but watch football. I would flip back and forth, but I really wasn't watching it. I watch it every now and then, but I get my mindset a different way. Believe it or not, I was watching "In The Heat of The Night." The night before, I was studying the plays and I had just gone through meetings, so I just wanted to get a piece of mind. I was focused, but I didn't want to pressure myself right then. I didn't want to give my game-face away too early. I laid down and got some rest. I got up for pregame meal and when I got up, it started to flow; my game-face started to come on and the mental aspect of the game was clicking. When I woke up, it was, like, let's do this. On a long day like Sunday, you try to contain those emotions until just the right time. I think I did pretty well with it. This was a big game for us and everybody came out with a lot of emotions. After we went through pregame meal, we came over to the stadium and the locker room was fun. We were ready. Coming down to Sunday night and everybody was watching; you're trying to hold those emotions until national anthem and introductions. When introductions come you just let it all out. It's rough when you control a game so much. You're controlling a game so much you loose control, by turning the ball over. If anybody was at the game, they saw us move the ball, up and down the field. When we got into the red area, we shot ourselves in the foot with a turnover. It was here or there and we're off by a little. It's so close, it's unbelievable. On our side of the ball we felt like we let our defense down because they didn't give up any touchdowns. We're known to score touchdowns with our offense and my hat goes off to the defense. If they continue to play like that, and I know they will, we can win here. There is no (quarterback) controversy. I'm not touching that one. The instant replay situation involving Tony (Brackens), I really felt that it was either a touchdown or he was down by contact. The one where Mike (Logan) stripped the receiver, I don't think the receiver caught it. The one to Tony, I just can't believe that they didn't give us the ball being down by contact or the touchdown. It was so obvious. Even through all of that, we still had a chance to win and that's the bottom line, to win. If we had scored, it would have been a great game because we overcame the adversity of six turnovers. You can't play that style of football in the NFL and Tom (Coughlin) has stressed that ever since I've been here. You don't turn the football over and win in the NFL, and he's right.
Monday, October 9, 2000
Coach Coughlin was disappointed, but he saw something on defense that was done well. He was encouraged by the effort and he said, "Don't be down because we have another big one next week. Let's build on it and be encouraged about the effort and be encouraged on how the defense played." He said, "Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot and let's play football. We have another week to get better. We have to get better each and every week." He was hurt, but he was encouraged by the effort we showed out there. We fought hard and he realized that. We can help by going out and fighting again. We don't have anything else left to lose.