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Boselli rushes to Brunell's defense

The following are notes from the Jaguars' 24-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday.

Offensive tackle Tony Boselli took exception to defensive end Mike Vrabel's block on Mark Brunell, following an interception by Steelers strong safety Lethon Flowers in the first half. Vrabel blocked Brunell cleanly to the ground, though he was flagged for having made his block after the play had been whistled dead.

Boselli knocked Vrabel to the ground along the sideline, drawing a personal foul flag, too. Steelers veteran linebacker LeVon Kirkland then exchanged shoves with Boselli.

"My job is to protect the quarterback and I'm not going to let someone cheap-shot (Mark). I thought it was definitely late," Boselli explained.

Later in the game, Jaguars strong safety Donovin Darius twice tackled quarterback Kordell Stewart out of bounds with arm-to-the-head shots. The second time, Darius was reprimanded by Steelers coach Bill Cowher, though neither hit was flagged.

Steve Lindsey booted two field goal in two attempts, making him four of five since replacing Mike Hollis. Lindsey's second shot against the Steelers was a 48-yarder.

Keenan McCardell enjoyed his third 100-yard receiving game of the year (11 catches for 137 yards). It is his 15th 100-yard game as a Jaguar, and the 16th of his career.

Though Jimmy Smith experienced his worst day of the season (two catches for 20 yards), he continued his streak of having caught at least one pass in 77 consecutive games. It's the seventh-longest streak among active NFL receivers.

The 18 points by which the Jaguars trailed the Steelers in the second half is the greatest deficit the Jaguars have ever faced at home in the regular season. Of course, they lost to Tennessee by 19 points in last season's AFC title game.

At 2-3, the Jaguars' 58-game streak of being at or above .500 ended. It was the NFL's longest current streak.

The Jaguars' one rushing first down ties a team low.

When veteran linebacker Hardy Nickerson was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter, the Jaguars manned two of the three linebacker spots with rookies T.J. Slaughter and Danny Clark. Veteran linebacker Lonnie Marts was deactivated with an abdominal injury.

"We're just out of balance offensively, with no ability to run," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said.

The Jaguars used their third starting center of the season. Jeff Smith, who was claimed off waivers from Kansas City at the start of the season, replaced Quentin Neujahr, who had replaced John Wade. The interior of the Jaguars offensive line struggled to control Steelers nose tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen,

"You're playing uphill now. You're not doing the major things football is all about," Coughlin said, referring to the Jaguars' lack of sound blocking and tackling.

"They're not going to stop the season and let us gather up the pieces and try to figure out what's wrong. This is it. We're in the middle of it. We've got to rally the troops and get going," Boselli said.

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