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'Hail Mary' is lifesaver

Join jaguars.com Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Walter from Orange Park, FL:
Two years in a row it looks as though we will have relevant games at the end of the year. This team once again has exceeded expectations and I believe it's a clear sign that things are pointing up for this organization. Why do you think we are still struggling on the attendance issue and do you think it can be fixed at this point?

Vic: Mike Thomas' "Hail Mary" catch is a lifesaver for this team and this town. I really mean that. I could feel the air going out of this season, in terms of fan enthusiasm, but now I see a rush of interest and it's just in time for a game that had a lot of unsold tickets before Thomas caught that pass. All we can do is hope.

Jon from Washington, DC:
In 30 years, will the next-generation Jaguars fan walk into EverBank Field and ask, "Which side of the field was it?"

Vic: You're playing off something I wrote a few years ago about Lambeau Field: "Which end zone was it?" Yeah, it could happen here. You never know.

Jim from Jacksonville:
What happens during a busted coverage? Does someone forget what he's supposed to do? If so, why does it happen so often?

Vic: You're a video game player, aren't you? I mean no disrespect, but I just get that feeling because I can't imagine why else you wouldn't know the answer to your question: Some players are better than others and they don't play the same in every game. These guys aren't blips on a screen. They're not programmed. Some of them play above their talent level, some play beneath it. Some of them rise to the occasion at crunch time, some shrink in the face of it. Why does a guy bat the ball into the hands of an onrushing receiver, instead of catching it or batting it out of bounds? As Jack Del Rio said at his press conference on Monday, Rod Woodson would've never batted that ball, he would've caught it, and that's why he's in the Hall of Fame, because he had the ability to make that kind of play. Obviously, the Texans defender didn't have faith in his ability to make the catch and that's the difference between him and Woodson. Why do some players blow coverages and others don't? Because they're not as good as the ones that don't blow the coverages. They're not as smart or as instinctive and, eventually, they'll be replaced. Please, try to get a feel for the human quality that's involved in this game. Try to understand what this week is like for Glover Quin and why it happened to him. Players, not plays.

Brian from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Why does the bad snap that rolled behind Schaub, which he fell on, later to be touched down by Larry Hart, not count as a sack?

Vic: It's because it was an aborted play.

Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
The 1972 AFC Championship Game was blacked out in Pittsburgh because, prior to the 1973 season, all home games were blacked out in the home city, sellout or not.

Vic: You're absolutely correct. When I tell that to young and some not-so-young fans, they're dumbfounded. They don't believe me, but that's exactly how it was back then. All games, regardless of whether they were sold out or not, were blacked out in the cities in which they were played. Super Bowl I was blacked out in Los Angeles. The '72 AFC title game was blacked out in Pittsburgh and so was the "Immaculate Reception" game the previous week. I remember how fans were frantically making reservations at motels in towns just outside the blackout radius. Guys piled into cars and drove out of town with a trunk full of beer. It's just the way it was back then and nobody complained, until Christmas weekend, 1972. The one o'clock game was the "Immaculate Reception" and the four o'clock game was Dallas' fourth-quarter rally in San Francisco and the games were blacked out in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The next day, Washington's game was blacked out and that's when Congress decided enough was enough. The following summer, they instituted the 1973 Act of Congress by which the NFL continues to abide, voluntarily, I might add, since it expired more than 30 years ago.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
What if the "Hail Mary" or the 59-yard field goal won the AFC Championship or the Super Bowl? Would you show some cheerful emotion then?

Vic: I'll stand and wet my pants just for you.

Al from Fruit Cove, FL:
We got the asterisk! That's even better than an up-pointing arrow, right?

Vic: You know you've made it when you get the asterisk in my all-important power rankings.

John from Jacksonville:
A conversation with a co-worker may explain why so many folks were filing out of the stadium near the end of regulation play. Perhaps, like him, they were going for a quick smoke and a bathroom break before the anticipated overtime play.

Vic: Blame it on cigarettes?

Joe from Orlando, FL:
In your "Quick Hits" a few weeks back you wrote about now being our "good old days." I was skeptical but now I see. I never want to forget the awe and surprise I felt on Sunday when that ball fell into Thomas' hands. What football moment do you never want to forget?

Vic: It was a July day in 1972 when I was a college intern at a newspaper and the sports editor told me he was going to send me to Steelers training camp. I remember being filled with anxiety as I went there, and I remember standing next to a running back/linebackers Oklahoma drill, and I remember going to the dormitory room of a journeyman guard to interview him for a story, and I remember feeling as though this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Thirty-nine seasons later, I'm still doing it.

C. J. Shah from Jacksonville:
This win makes up for the loss to the Cleveland Browns and Tim Couch. That "Hail Mary" may have cost Tom Coughlin his job.

Vic: It was, in my opinion, the second of consecutive hits that cost Tom his job. The Jaguars hosted the Steelers the previous week and I think the large crowd of Steelers fans in attendance that day alerted Wayne Weaver to the realization that his team was losing its fan base. A week later, the Browns won on the "Hail Mary" pass, which should not have been ruled a completion, and that was the clincher.

Greg from Jacksonville:
What do you think of the power outage at Giants Stadium?

Vic: What do I think of the power outage at Giants Stadium? The (bleep) lights go out and you wanna know what the (bleep) I think of the (bleep) power outage at Giants (bleep) Stadium? Are you (bleep) kidding? Everybody had to sit in the (bleep) dark for five (bleep) seconds and wonder what the (bleep) was going on, and you wanna know what the (bleep) I think of the (bleep) power outage at Giants Stadium?

Tyler from New London, CT:
You are really not delusional enough to think we could be a legitimate playoff contender with the worst secondary in the league?

Vic: I'm not delusional, I'm just hopeful. I live for the December playoffs race. I love watching the scoreboard and I love tiebreakers. I love slate-gray days and dark descending early as snowflakes begin to swirl. In 2007, the Jaguars played in Pittsburgh in a late-season game with major playoff implications and snow was in the forecast. We were doing pregame radio and Brian Sexton was turned toward me during an exchange. His back was turned toward the field when, all of a sudden, the skies opened up and we were in a white-out. I said, "Brian, the snow has arrived." He turned to look at the field and his reaction was one of pure joy. It turned out to be one of the most memorable games in Jaguars history. My only regret this year is that the Jaguars don't have a game like that on their December schedule. They play at home twice and in domes twice. The only shot for one of those cold, gray days is in Tennessee on Dec. 5. It's the game to which I look forward the most.

Tim from Jacksonville:
I heard on the news some people left because of the fair.

Vic: Blame it on the fair? Are you kidding me? People left one of the most exciting games of their lives so they could walk on dried cotton candy puke?

Keith from Summerville, SC:
I always thought I'd like to watch a game with you in the press booth. After your comments yesterday to Edward, I've changed my mind. Sounds kind of boring.

Vic: Years ago, Arrowhead Stadium had little TVs at the seats in the press box and I saw a reporter watching "The Three Stooges" during a game.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
One of the most infamous incidents in Jaguars history was the beer-bottle game in Cleveland. Do you remember it? I can't remember why the fans were so angry and behaved as such. Would you please remind me of the events that led to the riot-like atmosphere?

Vic: It was replay review. The fans were angry at replay review. They thought the Browns had gotten the snap off before the replay official buzzed for replay. Replay review has brought out the worst in us. I really mean that.

Kerry from Virginia Beach, VA:
I hope you write that book. I enjoy your perspective in general. I even share it with my brother in Australia who was a sportswriter before moving abroad and is now with SBS Radio. He developed a disdain for football after covering UT and seeing how corrupt SEC football was at that time.

Vic: Fortunately, it's not like that anymore.

Severus from Orlando, FL:
You once said Vick wouldn't be worth the distraction he would cause. Do you still believe that?

Vic: He wasn't worth the distraction last year. The distraction potential has since passed and he's having an MVP-type year this season. He's a great athlete. I never questioned that, but he never played quarterback as he's playing the position now. Andy Reid has done wonders with him.

Justin from Jacksonville:
With how the league has been cracking down on helmet-to-helmet contact in the previous weeks, why was the hit to Hines Ward not penalized?

Vic: They missed it. It happens. It's a tough game for tough guys. Sometimes you have to live with the mistakes. I'm kind of surprised the Steelers haven't complained about it, especially since the league has made such an example of James Harrison. What bothers me is that the officiating crew that missed the hit on Ward is the same crew that flagged the love tap to the head of Peyton Manning in the Colts-Eagles game. Isn't it funny how they never miss the hits on Manning?

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