DENVER—The hat is back.
No, not the purple one David Garrard sported following the playoff win in Pittsburgh last season. This one is a bit more sedate.
"What color do you call that?" Garrard was asked.
"Charcoal gray. I just felt it was time to bring one out," Garrard said.
Oh, baby, it was time. The Jaguars needed the hat in the worst sort of way, the hat being symbolic of victory and Garrard delivering just that at Invesco Field on Sunday, a 24-17 win over the Denver Broncos.
Just as he was a year ago when he upset the Broncos at Invesco, Garrard was in rare form in this most recent matchup. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 276 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 107.0 passer rating.
"David was sharp and made good decisions all day," coach Jack Del Rio said of his quarterback. "David's a fine football player. Today was a strong performance and there will be many more."
The Jaguars offense was everything it had been trying to be all season. It rediscovered its power running game. It ran and passed with equal aplomb and displayed an explosiveness that had previously been missing.
"We know what we are. We're a power running game. We know who we are," Del Rio said.
Jones-Drew took over for Fred Taylor when Taylor was knocked woozy early in the game on a play that resulted in a lost fumble. At the time, the Broncos led, 7-0, following an all-too-easy march down the field on their opening possession.
"A balanced offense is the worst offense to face. The chemistry is starting to come back," Jones-Drew said.
The Jaguars were able to run the ball successfully against a Broncos defense that loaded the line of scrimmage to stop the run. The overload against the run allowed Garrard to take his pick of open receivers. Eight Jaguars caught passes.
"When you want to load the box, we can make plays downfield. Look at my man," Jones-Drew said as Garrard strolled into the postgame interview room, wearing his charcoal gray fedora at a fashionable tilt.
"This game today looked exactly like Jaguars football and it felt really good. It was a great day coming into someone else's house and knowing they wanted our blood," Garrard said, referring to the Broncos' intent to avenge their loss to the Jaguars last season.
The Jaguars took a 17-7 lead when Jones-Drew burst through a hole on the right side of the line and went 46 yards untouched early in the third quarter. It was a simple dive play but it was symbolic of the return of the Jaguars' power running game.
"We call it God's play because if He played football that's a play he'd want to run. It's a smash-mouth football play. You have to be real physical to run it," Jones-Drew said.
Garrard's 30-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis later in the third quarter gave the Jaguars a 14-point cushion and the only question left to be answered was: Would the Jaguars defense finally protect a late-game lead? They would, but not without some tense moments.
The controversial call of the game occurred with 4:30 to play, when the Broncos were called for pass interference on a long sideline pass intended for tight end Greg Estandia. Contact on the play was minimal but the effect of the call was fatal for the Broncos. They never got the ball back.
At 3-3, the Jaguars trail the division-leading Titans, 5-0 and in their bye week. The Colts are in second place at 3-2. The greatest significance of the win over the Broncos, however, could be felt at wild-card tiebreaker time. The Jaguars desperately needed an AFC win after losing three games to AFC opponents.
"We've been playing the best teams in the AFC. We feel there's a chance we can get better as we go on," Del Rio said.
The immediate schedule is favorable, as the Jaguars' next three opponents – Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit – have a combined one victory. After surviving a demanding start, the Jaguars may be on the verge of getting on a roll. First, they'll use their bye week for a well-deserved rest.