PHILADELPHIA—It felt like a win, but the scoreboard said it was a loss.
"We shared the work like I said we would. Early, there were some bright spots. Late, some things got away," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said after watching the Philadelphia Eagles' reserves rally against the Jaguars' reserves and deal the Jaguars a 33-32 defeat, their third of the preseason.
Did it feel like a win?
"I felt like we had a good showing early," Del Rio said.
Nursing a 32-27 lead with seven minutes to play in the game, Del Rio decided to take backup quarterback Todd Bouman out of the game and replace him with Paul Smith. Two plays later, Smith threw an interception that led to a David Akers field goal that cut the Jaguars' lead to two points.
The Jaguars weren't able to kill much time off the clock on their next possession and the Eagles reclaimed the ball at their 19-yard line with 2:51 to play. They moved quickly into field goal range and Akers kicked the game-winner from 34 yards with 15 seconds to play in the game.
"We were up at the time. The decision was made to play all of our guys and we played them," Del Rio said when asked why he took Bouman out of the game.
"The fans, heck, you guys know there was some good ball played early and that's when the guys who are going to play were playing. I think the fans know that," Del Rio said.
Despite playing without their starting three linebackers, the Jaguars defense forced the Eagles into several mistakes, including an interception by quarterback Donovan McNabb and an errant lateral that was returned 92 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Brian Iwuh.
The Jaguars pushed their lead to 17-6 by halftime and to 27-13 in the third quarter. The Jaguars' best thrust on offense was a 67-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter that featured Maurice Jones-Drew at his preseason best. Jones-Drew ran 45 yards with a screen pass to move the drive into scoring territory.
David Garrard gave Jaguars fan a scare early in the game when he sustained a neck burner that caused him to writhe in pain on the ground. He returned to action a series later.
"It did not feel good at all. It was a burning sensation. It felt like my spine got crunched," Garrard said.
Garrard finished the game with eight completions in 14 attempts for 93 yards, one interception and a 47.6 passer rating. The numbers aren't impressive but Garrard was fearless in the face of a fierce pass-rush, even after the injury. He threw one completion just as two rushers plowed into him.
"You gotta do it. That's what this job entails. They're out there still trying to take your head off," Garrard said.
"We are definitely heading in the right direction, but we still want to clean up a few things," Garrard said when asked if the offense is ready to begin the regular season.
The Jaguars have one preseason game remaining, against visiting Washington next Thursday. The Jaguars would like to fine-tune themselves for the start of the season, and they'd also like to get a win and avoid a winless preseason.
"We have another week and we need it. This is a good football team here so it's valuable for us to come up here and go against a good team," Del Rio said. "It's going to be a great tape to evaluate. Jobs are on the line."
Fortunately, the final score isn't as important in the preseason as it will be in just a few weeks.