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Familiar tale for Jaguars


They dominated the first half but collapsed in the second half. Sound familiar?

The Jaguars fell to 0-3 today with a 23-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts that was similar to the Jaguars' loss in the season-opener at Carolina. But it was also a loss that begged of its own place in history.

Was this a watershed game? Is this the day that pushed rookie head coach Jack Del Rio to the limit of his patience? Will this have been Mark Brunell's final game as the team's starting quarterback?

Del Rio begged off answering the second question, and that may have been telling in itself, but the answer to the first question may have come in the form of an irritation in Del Rio's voice for a performance that provided the Colts with welcome gifts.

"When you've coached all week on the hard count and have, oh, I don't know, it felt like a dozen (offside penalties), that's not good," Del Rio said sarcastically.

But his point was well-considered. It was a third-down offside penalty against defensive end Hugh Douglas in the third quarter that allowed Peyton Manning to throw his second touchdown pass, which contributed to a 20-point explosion that put the game out of reach.

Manning pitched a "Rodney Peete" in the first half: six of 12 for 46 yards, an interception and a 25.0 passer rating. Sound familiar?

Then, in the second half, Manning pitched a "Jack Delhomme:" 15 of 21 for 170 yards and two touchdowns, which pushed his overall passer rating to 90.0. Sound familiar?

Yeah, it was all too familiar for Del Rio. So, what does that mean; more roster changes this week? Del Rio was asked.

"I'm not going to single anybody out on this football team, and I made it very clear that our decision to change the roster last week had nothing to do with one play," he said.

Cornerback Jason Craft suffered a third consecutive disappointing performance, though Craft is not totally to blame for Reggie Wayne's 28-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter that erased the Jaguars' 3-0 halftime lead. Craft was to have received help from rookie safety Rashean Mathis deep, but Mathis was slow in moving to the ball.

With that touchdown pass, the Jaguars' bubble burst. Manning followed that 66-yard touchdown drive with a 52-yarder that culminated in a four-yard touchdown pass to Wayne.

When Fred Taylor fumbled the ball away at the Jaguars' 25-yard line (he reached the 5,000-yard mark for his career on that play), the Jaguars had run only seven plays in the quarter, which ended with the Colts having had the ball for 12:23.

"We had a chance to do more with our success early and came away with three points," Del Rio said, referring to his offense's inability to capitalize on a strong rushing performance by Taylor and an efficient passing display by Brunell.

But rookie kicker Seth Marler missed field-goal attempts from 46 and 41 yards in the first half, the first miss having been the result of a high snap from center that broke Marler's kicking rhythm. Had Marler converted from 41 yards on the next-to-last play of the first half, his kick would've been nullified by a holding penalty against wingman Paul Spicer.

Brunell, who suffered an injury in the first quarter when he jammed his left elbow into the rock-hard RCA Dome turf, was victimized by a dropped pass by tight end Kyle Brady on a third-down play prior to Marler's first miss.

Taylor was at 68 yards rushing on 13 tries in the first half, and finished the game with 126 yards on just 17 rushing attempts. He clearly outplayed the Colts' Edgerrin James, who was held to 76 yards on 27 carries.

"We knew giving them a dose of Fred was good because it would be good for our offense and it would keep theirs on the sideline," Del Rio said.

Unfortunately, the Colts' points explosion in the third quarter forced the Jaguars away from the run, causing Taylor to get only four carries in the second half, though one of those went for 42 yards.

"We didn't make enough plays to win. Our approach is to go back to work and correct those things that are keeping us from winning," Del Rio said. "I'd like to see more (pass-rush). I'd like to see less offsides and more sacks and more tackles for loss."

These are emotionally-exhausting times for Del Rio, who is still seeking his first win as a head coach. His next opportunity will come next Sunday in Houston.

"There are always emotions you have to deal with. It's imperative I keep my emotions in check and lead this team," Del Rio said. "We will go back, look at the film and coach the heck out of these guys, and we will get this thing turned around."

Though he was disappointed, he refused to be disheartened. "0-3 is probably a little deceiving. I think we're probably a better team than that," he added.

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