The ball came loose from David Garrard's grasp and for a moment another game appeared to be slipping away, but this time the ball bounced in the Jaguars' favor. It bounced right back into Garrard's hands and one play later Maurice Jones-Drew ran two yards for the game-winning touchdown in a 20-16 win over the visiting Green Bay Packers.
"You know, I should have been thinking about what my wife tells me all the time: 'There's always somebody behind you.' I guess she's saying I'm just not fast enough to outrun guys, which is true, and that was a prime example right there. Luckily, some angels kept the ball close enough and I was able to corral it and not give up a terrible play," Garrard said.
His 14-yard run, a quarterback draw on third and four at the two-minute warning and the Jaguars trailing by a point, was the big play in a game that guarantees the Jaguars will not tie the inaugural team for the worst record in franchise history.
Maurice Jones-Drew scored on the next play and safety Reggie Nelson clinched the win by intercepting a tipped pass with 40 seconds to play. At 5-9, the Jaguars have two games remaining, an AFC South showdown against the visiting Colts on Thursday, and then the season finale in Baltimore on Dec. 28.
Garrard turned in a workmanlike performance that included two touchdown passes and no interceptions. He spread the ball around to six different receivers, on a day when the Jaguars' wide receiver ranks were depleted.
Wide receiver Dennis Northcutt was one of the stars of the Jaguars' win. Northcutt stepped into the starting role and caught five passes for 127 yards and one touchdown. He would've had a monster day had he not dropped a pass in the first half.
Northcutt became the first Jaguars player this season to catch a pass of 40 yards or longer, a 41-yarder that kicked off the Jaguars' winning touchdown drive. Northcutt gave the Jaguars a deep passing game they've lacked all year.
"We did a nice job of starting fast; nice to jump out and get a lead," coach Jack Del Rio said. "We needed it. It's been awhile," he added of the win, which was the Jaguars' first since Nov. 9 in Detroit.
Garrard was at his best, ending a recent slump. He completed 21 of 33 passes for 238 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.4 passer rating, and he also added 31 yards rushing. He looked like the Garrard of 2007.
"I think he was just sharper today," Del Rio said of Garrard. "I thought the plan came together nicely. He just played well and we needed that."
Jones-Drew became the Jaguars' full-time feature back and rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 22 yards and a touchdown.
"We had some opportunities to pass and to run and that all starts up front," Del Rio said in praising his offensive line. Garrard was sacked just twice.
The defense allowed 338 yards and the Packers converted on third down 10 of 16 times, but the Packers were unable to get it done in the red zone and bogged down too often. A failed fourth-down play in the second half spelled defeat.
On fourth-and-one on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Packers were stopped for no gain and the Jaguars took over at their 44-yard line. The play seemed to pump life into the Jaguars and sap the Packers of their energy. It was clearly the turning point in the game, as the Jaguars went on to score touchdowns in their next two possessions.
"It's definitely been a tough season, but I know as a professional we have to persevere and do our job," Garrard said.
He did his job, and he got an assist from fate.