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Here's the explanation


Fred Taylor put his finger on the question but he couldn't provide the answer.

"How do you explain it?" he said. "We lost the game. They just outplayed us. I don't want to make excuses. They just beat us."

Those words aren't going to satisfy Jaguars fans. How do you lose to a team that was without six starters, including the starting quarterback and his two star wide receivers? How do you lose to that team on a day when you rush for 221 yards and a 7.9 yards-per-carry average?

This was a game, a 24-21 loss to the depleted and embattled St. Louis Rams, for which the questions just keep coming.

How do you play like this coming off two big wins and a bye week? How do you give up 179 yards rushing to Steven Jackson after just having stonewalled the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Yeah, you want answers and you deserve them, but they were difficult to find. Jack Del Rio couldn't explain how the Rams turned a punt-block play for which the Jaguars had intensely prepared into a touchdown that gave the Rams the lead and early momentum.

"We had the exact block repped in practice. We actually repped that exact block at that exact spot on the field," Del Rio said.

The night before Sunday's game, Del Rio asked his players to give him a three-phases effort. The coach said they had yet to put together a three-phases effort this season and it was time to do it.

So what did Del Rio get? How about a no-phases effort?

The offense posted a lot of yards but didn't get it done on short yardage in a critical first-half possession, and didn't move the ball into scoring position on its final possession of the day.

"It was a wasted effort," Del Rio said of Taylor's 165 yards rushing, 95 of which came on his first four carries of the game, and this from a man who was a game-time decision as to whether or not he'd even play. Oh, yeah, he played.

How do you lose on a day when your star running back lays down a buck sixty-five and your number four wide receiver catches six balls for 145 yards and a touchdown?

Then there was special teams, which allowed seven points and failed to score any. Josh Scobee missed to the right on field-goal tries of 49 and 44 yards. Wind in the Edward Jones Dome, of course, was not a factor.

"We lost by three points and we missed two field goals," Del Rio said.

Lastly, there was the defense; the Jaguars' calling card. Rested, ready and coming off an exulted performance in Pittsburgh, it turned in its worst performance of the season.

Yeah, the defense intercepted Jamie Martin three times, but it gave up runs of 51, 36 and 17 yards to Jackson, and that is not Jaguars football.

"You can't play run-defense like that and expect to win. You can't have punts blocked and expect to win. We didn't play run-defense today worth a darn; didn't tackle, didn't fit. I'm embarrassed by it," Del Rio said following the loss.

As they prepared for this game last week, the Jaguars talked about being a mature team; a more mature team than the one that went flat against Houston on the day after Christmas last December, with the playoffs on the line. Taylor made a point of thanking Houston for giving the Jaguars a lesson in maturity.

So, if we are to believe the Jaguars actually did learn their lesson a year ago, then to what are we to attribute the loss in St. Louis? At a time when everyone was making a point of the Jaguars' weak finishing schedule, did the Jaguars take the bait and go soft?

"No, no, not at all," linebacker Mike Peterson said emphatically.

Then what was it?

"I don't want to say it has anything to do with maturity. Maturity is an escape route. That's an excuse. I don't want to use no excuse. We lost the game. We shouldn't have lost it," Peterson said.

That's not an explanation, however, that's an observation. Maybe that's all we need.

We want to believe this team is ready to go to the next level. We want to believe the Jaguars are on the verge of becoming one of the league's elite teams. What we want, however, and what we have are very different.

"If you're good enough, you win. We need to be better. When we get good enough to earn it, we'll earn it. We'll find a way to win," Del Rio said.

"This team is not elite," he added. "We have to play well or we can be beaten. There are only a few elite teams that can overcome bad play. We're not that team, yet."

That's how you explain it.

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