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Bold strategy updates 'book'


Jack Del Rio called it the "percentage play" in what is obviously a new way of coaching in a "new" NFL.

He instructed his running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, to stop short of a touchdown so the Jaguars could make the last play of the game a walk-off, game-winning field goal, which is exactly how it happened on Sunday. Today, Del Rio's genius was overshadowed only by New England coach Bill Belichick's colossal blunder.

Del Rio's strategy worked and Belichick's didn't. They are of a different nature, yet, they are the result of the same dynamic: The game of football has changed to the point that the team that has the ball last wins.

Translation? You win with offense, not defense.

It's almost heresy. It's long been a cardinal rule of professional football that defense wins championship.

"Books have been updated," Del Rio said, not so jokingly. "I felt good about what we did. I felt once Marcedes Lewis made that big catch, we had a chance to seal the game."

Belichick, of course, took the same kind of kill-the-clock mentality to the lethal extreme in the Patriots' come-from-ahead loss to the Colts on Sunday night. Deep in his own territory and attempting to protect a six-point lead, Belichick went for the first down on fourth-and-two and came up short.

"You have to do what you know is right," Del Rio said, referring to his decision to kill two minutes off the clock instead of accepting the touchdown the Jets were attempting to concede. "I didn't know for sure, but I knew what we wanted to do if they did elect to do that."

Had Del Rio not ordered Jones-Drew to fall down at the one-yard line, the Jaguars would've taken a 27-22 lead with about 1:40 to play in regulation. Del Rio would've no doubt ordered a two-point conversion attempt, which would've left the Jaguars to kickoff to the Jets leading by either five or seven points.

The Jets had exhausted their times out, so rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez would've been clock-challenged. It must also be acknowledged that the Jaguars would've been without cornerback Rashean Mathis, who sustained a groin injury earlier in the half and did not return. Del Rio revealed on Monday that Mathis could miss the next couple of games as a result of the injury.

"We play to win the game," Del Rio said in lighthearted reference to former Jets coach Herman Edwards' infamous press conference response.

"The fact that we had a bunch of guys step up at crunch time, I thought that was huge. Big throws, big catches at crunch time," Del Rio said. "Our team is made up of guys who are very committed."

Had his strategy backfired, criticism would've been intense. Had the Jaguars sustained a bad snap, hold or kick that caused the strategy to fail, Belichick would have company today.

"If you're afraid, it's probably not a good sport to follow. There are a lot of talented players and coaches that work hard to put a plan together. You can't be faint of heart," Del Rio said.

He lacked no such boldness. The book to which he referred would seem to have been updated by his winning strategy against the Jets.

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