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Garrard finishes on fire


Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is playing the best football of his life. He completed 14 consecutive passes at the conclusion of Sunday's game, and he even bounced the 14th of those completions off the hands of Texans cornerback Glover Quin and into the hands of Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas, completing a 50-yard, game-winning "Hail Mary" play. Final score: Jaguars 31, Texans 24.

Now that's what you call a red-hot quarterback, huh?

"I'm the jumper," Quin said of his role on the play. "I saw the ball and jumped up to knock the ball down. It fell right into the Jaguars player's arms. I wasn't thinking about catching it. I was just thinking about knocking it down, getting to overtime and going to win the game. This really happened and we lost the game."

Yeah, it really happened. What a pass. A perfect way for Garrard to cap a 24 of 31 for 342 yards, two touchdowns and a 134.1 passer rating day. In a shootout with Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, Garrard was the better "Hail Mary" quarterback.

As a result, the Jaguars are 5-4 and tied with the Titans for second place in the AFC South, each a game behind the division-leading Colts. The Texans fell to 4-5. Forget about them. Their hopes died the moment Quin's folly nestled into Thomas' hands.

It was the most improbable of victories.

  • Coach Jack "Gamblin' Jack" Del Rio played it safe on fourth and one, which was followed by kicker Josh Scobee's first miss of the season.
  • Del Rio astutely drained the Texans of their times out and turned over a down-the-middle, 43-yard attempt to Scobee for the win, which was followed by an ugly-looking duck-hook of a kick that was Scobee's second miss of the season.
  • Houston was marching for a try at a potential game-winning field goal when tight end Joel Dreessen inexplicably lost his grasp on the football as he was completing what should've been a 15-yard reception that should've left kicker Neil Rackers with a reasonable try for the win.

At the least, this was a game that should've gone to overtime. After all, these are the world's greatest football players; you don't expect something as wild as Quin's folly to occur.

"When it works like that, it's beyond words," Garrard said when asked to provide the name of the play.

All joking aside, Garrard did play a sensational game, his second such effort since a concussion caused him to miss a game in Kansas City. In the Jaguars' five wins, Garrard has thrown 14 touchdown passes and just one interception, which is good for a 143.0 passer rating.

Garrard was at his best at crunch time. After the Jaguars defense blew a 14-point lead at halftime and allowed the Texans to tie the game on consecutive 80-yard touchdown drives to start the second half, and after Scobee sailed a chip-shot kick wide to the right, Garrard responded with an 87-yard touchdown drive to take the lead on a 52-yard, pass-and-run play to tight end Zach Miller.

Then, after the Jaguars defense allowed Schaub and company to go 80 yards for a third time in the second half, Garrard came back with the "Hail Mary" game-winner.

Garrard has never played as well as he has in the last two games. He's the scourge of Texas, beating the Dallas Cowboys and causing coach Wade Phillips to be fired, and now beating the Texans, which isn't likely to cool the glowing embers under coach Gary Kubiak's seat.

"We did some things extremely well. In the first half, we were really solid on defense. We talked at halftime about the need to keep the pedal down," Del Rio said. "There were mistakes and they capitalized on them."

The Jaguars' old bugaboo, bad play at safety, bit them hard in the second half. A safety didn't play the middle of the field on a long pass completion to Andre Johnson that kick-started the second-half rally, and then failure of a safety to cover Johnson on a goal-line play allowed a tying touchdown pass.

"Busted coverages," cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "We have to eliminate that to beat good teams. If we stop making mistakes, we can be good."

The Jaguars found out on Friday that they had lost star pass-rusher Aaron Kampman for the season to a knee injury. Kampman's absence was felt in the lack of a pass-rush, as Schaub went unsacked.

"We missed him today. We didn't knock the quarterback down near enough," Del Rio said.

"This is a morale booster. Some of these things don't normally go our way. We won this game and got a fresh start to a new half (of the season)," Mathis added.

"There were two things I asked of our guys: Let's play with passion and let's play with poise," Del Rio said. "You have to start stringing wins together."

The Jaguars will host 3-6 Cleveland next Sunday.

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