CLEVELAND—This time, their coach beat the media to the punch. Tom Coughlin was not impressed by the play of his team in a 24-14 win over the now 2-13 Cleveland Browns.\r\n\r\n "I didn't think we played well at all. It's not a game I'm very proud of. Our preparation and attitude have got to be a lot better," Coughlin said of a win that took the Jaguars' winning streak to 11 games and their record to an NFL-best 13-1.\r\n\r\n Just ahead is a day-after-Christmas game in Nashville against the 11-3 Titans. With a win over the Titans, the Jaguars will have clinched their second consecutive AFC Central Division title, but the Jaguars could still clinch the division crown and AFC playoffs homefield advantage by merely beating visiting Cincinnati on Jan. 2.\r\n\r\n Coughlin's immediate concerns are for an offense that continues to have difficulty scoring touchdowns. Against the expansion Browns, the Jaguars gained 442 yards, but needed a 41-yard run by Fred Taylor in the fourth quarter to put the game out of the Browns' reach.\r\n\r\n Meanwhile, the defense is not playing up to previous standards. The Jaguars have allowed 90 points in the last five games and have fallen off the pace to break the 1986 Chicago Bears' record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season, 187. The Jaguars have allowed 169 points through 14 games.\r\n\r\n "The opportunities were there. We just didn't get enough points," quarterback Mark Brunell said. Brunell threw for 267 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but missed on a fourth-and-goal pass from the Browns one-yard line early in the fourth quarter. At the time, the Jaguars led 17-14.\r\n\r\n "I thought we had to do it," Coughlin said of his decision to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal. "We thought (Taylor) was in on that second plunge. I wish I had run the same play again."\r\n\r\n Taylor rushed for 136 yards, but other than for his 41-yard gallop, Taylor looked sluggish. He cramped late in the game and was replaced by Chris Howard, who broke off a 22-yard run. The Browns are the league's worst run-defense.\r\n\r\n "I don't think it was Fred as we would like him to be," Coughlin said.\r\n\r\n No one on the defensive side of the ball was celebrating their performance. The hitting was not crisp, and though the Jaguars held the Browns to 269 yards, the home team was able to mount touchdown drives of 68 and 62 yards.\r\n\r\n "We're playing off momentum we had at the start of the season. We haven't played (recently) at the level we're able to play at. We want to be consistent. It humbles us. This game could've bitten us on the behind," safety Donovin Darius said.\r\n\r\n The game in Tennessee could be the perfect tonic for a Jaguars team that seemed disinterested. The Jaguars' only loss this season was at the hands of the Titans in week three of the season. Though the Jaguars may not need a win in Tennessee to clinch the division title, a series sweep by the Titans would leave them to lay "sarcastic" claim to the title.\r\n\r\n "It is a pride factor," Darius said. "We want to establish that the last game was a fluke and this one is for real. It's the biggest game of our season so far."\r\n\r\n Brunell was the goat of that loss to the Titans, as a result of a final-seconds interception on third-and-goal when the Jaguars only needed a field goal to send the game into overtime.\r\n\r\n In Cleveland, Brunell was similarly charged with carelessness by Coughlin, for having dived into the end zone for a first-half touchdown on a nine-yard scramble that saw Brunell land awkwardly on his head and left shoulder.\r\n\r\n "He asked me if I'm a lunatic," Brunell said of Coughlin's reaction to a play that staked the Jaguars to a 14-0 lead.\r\n\r\n Browns rookie quarterback Tim Couch led a touchdown drive that cut the deficit to 14-7, but Couch suffered an ankle sprain just before halftime and was replaced by veteran Ty Detmer.\r\n\r\n The Jaguars endured tense moments in the first quarter when linebacker Kevin Hardy suffered a neck injury while making a tackle along the sideline. Teammate Tony Brackens' helmet struck the side of Hardy's helmet, leaving Hardy with burning sensation in both shoulders. Hardy was placed on a board and carted from the field, but he was on the Jaguars sideline in the second half, wearing a soft neck collar. The injury was diagnosed to be a neck sprain, but his availability for the next game was unknown.\r\n\r\n "It is a very scary scene and it impacts you as a team. There's no question that had an effect on our team," Coughlin said of Hardy's injury.\r\n\r\n The Jaguars, of course, were coming off a Monday night win over Denver, and that was cited as a possible explanation for their uninspired performance, but Coughlin wasn't buying it. "I make no excuses for that one," he said of the performance in Cleveland.\r\n\r\n "I think this was a good win for us. This just lets us know how good we (aren't). We're messing around and we find ourselves in a ballgame. It was a reality check. Guys will be focused this week; more focused than ever," wide receiver Jimmy Smith said.
Coughlin Not Impressed
Dec 20, 1999 at 07:00 PM
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