The deadline passed with little fanfare on Thursday. The Jaguars' home-opener will be blacked out for the second consecutive year.
"When we win, they'll come," head coach Jack Del Rio said. "I feel bad for the people who can't make it. We'd like to have our product on TV for them, but rules are rules."
With a blackout certain, ticket sales increased on Tuesday and Wednesday. Jaguars ticket sales director Scott Loft said the team had sold about 63,300 tickets as of one p.m. (blackout deadline) on Thursday, and Loft projected the Jaguars would "be between 67,000 and 69,000" by kickoff on Sunday.
All right, it's a blackout, but indications are that Sunday's crowd will be "healthy," and Del Rio is expecting a hearty effort.
"It's a great opportunity for us in front of our home crowd, and we hope it's loud and rowdy," Del Rio said. "I know from having played here that it can be a tremendous advantage. This has been and we think it will be a tremendous place to come in and play. We just have to get more people in the seats."
Once upon a time, Jaguars fans poured into Alltel Stadium in the middle of the night to welcome their team home following a dramatic playoff win in Denver. That day, and night, marks the high point in Jaguars history. Now, after four consecutive losing seasons, the Jaguars are 1-0 and want to use the Broncos, again, as a springboard to another high moment.
"It would mean a lot," defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said of a win that would leave the Jaguars 2-0 heading into a Sept. 26 showdown with the Titans in Tennessee. "It would definitely be a morale booster. It's been a long time since this team has been 2-0 playing anybody."
In fact, the Jaguars haven't been 2-0 since 2001, when they opened the season with uplifting home wins over Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Five straight losses followed.
"It would be huge for us," quarterback Byron Leftwich said of a win over Denver. "Hopefully, next week you'll ask me what 3-0 would mean for this football team."
Beating the Broncos, however, won't be as easy as talking about it. Denver has the league's most renowned running game, which represents the Jaguars' number one challenge: Stop running back Quentin Griffin.
"We want to get penetration to the ball and make the guy run right to us," Stroud said.
That's the formula the Jaguars have used in denying a 100-yard rusher for 16 consecutive games, dating back to the 2003 opener, when Carolina's Stephen Davis rushed for 111 yards.
"It's something we started as a defensive unit and we take pride in it," Stroud said of that streak for holding running backs under 100 yards.
The Broncos are not a power running team, as are Jamal Lewis and the Ravens, who the Jaguars shut down last season. The Broncos' rushing attack is more of a finesse system, with offensive linemen cut-blocking defenders on "stretch" plays intended to create running lanes. That concept can be likened to returning kickoffs; find the lane.
"You have to be able to keep your feet clear and run down the line," Stroud said of the technique he'll use this week to stay on his feet. It is Del Rio's challenge of his defensive players against Denver's cut-block technique: Stay on your feet.
"We know they're a running team and we know they're going to run the ball," middle linebacker Mike Peterson said.
Is the Broncos' cut-blocking tactic dirty football?
"This whole NFL is dirty. They may say I'm dirty. Who cares?" Peterson said.
The responsibility for beating the Broncos, however, won't fall completely on the shoulders of the run-defense. Leftwich knows he will be expected to contribute to a greater degree than he and the offense did in the team's win over Buffalo.
"I think I should've played better. I think I will play better," he said.
Leftwich is hoping he can count on some help from the Jaguars' fans.
"As a player, any time you play at home you want it to be a packed house. The ones who do come, they help us a lot. They make it tough on the opposing team," Leftwich said.