EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—This time there was no "Hail Mary" and the Jaguars' opponent made all of the big plays at crunch time.
"I'm disappointed in the way that game finished," coach Jack Del Rio said following a 24-20 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
It was a game that finished with the Giants driving 69 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 3:15 to play, which was followed by a final flurry of defense that left quarterback David Garrard dazed and worried about the condition of his left wrist.
"I feel banged up. It looked like I hurt everything," Garrard said of a sack on a first-down play from the Giants 29-yard line with 1:51 to play. Garrard came up limping but what wasn't immediately known was that Garrard had sustained an injury to his left wrist.
"Probably just a sprain. I can't move it much," Garrard told reporters in the locker room after the game. Garrard wore a battered look.
Through the first half, he was magnificent in building a 17-6 lead. Then, on the first play of the second half, his slant pass glanced off Mike Sims-Walker's hands, resulting in an interception and a field goal that cut the Jaguars' lead to 17-9.
It was a game-changing play inasmuch as the Giants played with greater energy from that point forward. Garrard got away with having thrown several near interceptions before the Giants tied the game at 17-17 on a 26-yard pass from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham and a two-point conversion run by Ahmad Bradshaw.
That's when Garrard went back to work, looking like the crunch-time quarterback he had been in consecutive wins over Cleveland and Houston. He moved the Jaguars 42 yards to a 42-yard field goal by Josh Scobee that staked the Jaguars to a 20-17 lead with 8:26 to play.
The game was then turned over to the defense and it failed to protect the lead.
"We had some mistakes. We've got to be a whole lot better. The offense played so well today," Del Rio said, referring to mistakes in coverage that were made in the Giants' game-winning drive.
The big mistake was a tackle safety Courtney Greene missed on tight end Kevin Boss on a third-and-10 play from the Jaguars' 32-yard line. The Jaguars were in a blitz, which left Greene in man-to-man coverage on Boss.
"It was a blitz. The ball came out hot and we just have to tackle and force the field goal opportunity," Del Rio said.
"I had Boss man to man. I just have to make the tackle," Greene said.
Boss broke Greene's attempted tackle and went the distance to the cheers of nearly 80,000 fans at New Meadowlands Stadium.
"This one hurts. We have to execute when the game is on the line. They executed and that was the difference in the game," tight end Marcedes Lewis said.
Maurice Jones-Drew posted his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing effort and Garrard scrambled six times for 41 drive-sustaining yards.
Del Rio and staff did a fantastic job keeping the Giants defense off-balance most of the day, which forbid the Giants from teeing off on Garrard with a pass-rush that had knocked five quarterbacks out of action previously. The hope is that Garrard is not number six.
"My offensive line did a great job," Garrard said of a unit that was without starting left tackle Eugene Monroe. "We were in that position you don't want to be in, relying on the pass on every play," Garrard said of the Jaguars' final possession, during which the Giants blitzed Garrard time and again. They sacked him on each of the Jaguars' final three plays of the game.