EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—Jack Del Rio knew Jets coach Rex Ryan well enough from their days together with the Baltimore Ravens to stay one step ahead of Ryan on Sunday. It allowed the Jaguars to score a walk-off, 24-22 win over the New York Jets.
"I said when you pop through, stop at the one," Del Rio said of his instructions to running back Maurice Jones-Drew, as Del Rio anticipated accurately Ryan's intention to allow the Jaguars to score a touchdown.
The Jaguars were at the Jets' 10-yard line with 1:48 to play. Del Rio offered his instructions to Jones-Drew at the same time Ryan was telling his Jets defense to allow a touchdown so the Jets offense could get the ball back with time enough on the clock to drive down the field.
"Coach said take a knee. Sorry, to my fantasy owners," Jones-Drew said.
Just as Del Rio predicted, Jones-Drew popped through a hole and was in the clear to the end zone. All of a sudden, he dropped to the ground at the one-yard line. Following three kneel-downs by quarterback David Garrard, Josh Scobee booted a game-winning, 21-yard field goal on the final play of the game.
"It was an opportunity to do the smart thing and kick what amounted to an extra point," Del Rio said. "What a great football game. Both teams came into this game realizing it was a big ballgame."
The win leaves the Jaguars at 5-4 and clearly a playoff contender heading into a game against visiting Buffalo. It was a win the Jaguars scored with a rush of offense in the first half and very little offense in the second half until Garrard engineered an 80-yard drive on the final series of the game.
"We started fast. Three of our first four possessions we were able to score touchdowns," Del Rio said.
Jones-Drew and Garrard were an explosive combination in the first half. Jones-Drew rushed for 93 yards, including a 33-yard run on the fifth play of the game that staked the Jaguars to a 7-0 lead. Garrard completed 10 of 14 passes in the first half, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Mike Sims-Walker. Garrard also scored on an 11-yard run.
The Jets made halftime adjustments, however, that left the Jaguars largely ineffective until the final drive of the game. The Jaguars were held to 16 total yards in the first five possessions of the second half, all of which were of the three-and-out variety.
The adjustments? Star cornerback Darrelle Revis was assigned to exclusively cover Sims-Walker. In addition, Ryan threw the blitz book at Garrard.
Jones-Drew finished with 123 yards rushing and one touchdown. His first-half success helped open up the passing game for Garrard and company.
"I know Rex's defenses don't allow many 100-yard rushers," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars had a chance to give themselves a cushy lead in the third quarter, following an interception by defensive end Quentin Groves, who had clear sailing to the end zone but tripped at the four-yard line. Two plays later, Jones-Drew fumbled and the Jets recovered.
Just as quickly, the Jets gave the ball back to the Jags after rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez completed a long pass to wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who then fumbled at the Jaguars 47.
Rookie wide receiver Jarett Dillard was lost for the season with a broken ankle and cornerback Rashean Mathis, who set the tone of the game with an interception on the first play from scrimmage, sustained an injury the details of which Del Rio said he was unable to provide.