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Historically speaking, Jaguars-Commanders

historically-speaking

JACKSONVILLE – Tom Coughlin was still the head coach in 2002, but the Jaguars were entering a new era.

Tony Boselli was in Houston, Keenan McCardell in Tampa, Kevin Hardy in Dallas and even kicker Mike Hollis had moved on to Buffalo as the Jaguars purged their salary cap and rearranged their roster with a new cast of characters.

Washington rolled into Jacksonville in November with local favorite Steve Spurrier in his first season as the head coach with Shane Matthews the starting quarterback, Danny Wuerffel on the roster and even Chris Doering in the lineup.

The 3-5 Jaguars were in the midst of a four-game losing streak while Washington was a game better at 4-4. But you better believe Coughlin was wound up after some in North Florida were disappointed that Spurrier wasn't their coach.

The comparisons raged on talk radio and in the media all week leading to kickoff.

Washington's Fun & Gun got off to a nice start. The offense didn't face third down until it reached the Jaguars' 20-yard line. On third-and-15, Matthews found wide receiver Rod Gardner for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

The crowd murmured in disapproval and kept at it as the Jaguars started and stopped offensively, hindering themselves with dropped passes, missed blocks and plenty of penalties.

It was punter Chris Hanson who finally got the Jaguars' engines firing. Coughlin didn't quite trust the second of four kickers he would employ that season, Tim Seder, with a 52-yard field goal attempt. He sent Hanson on to punt and when his 30-yard pooch punt rolled dead at the Redskins 5-yard line early in the second quarter, the Jaguars felt a surge of momentum. Washington went backwards and when former Jaguars punter Bryan Barker managed just a 12-yard kick, the home team went to work on the cusp of the red zone.

Running back Stacey Mack's two-yard touchdown run tied the game and injected some much-needed confidence on the field and in the stands.

The teams went back and forth the rest of the first half until Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud sacked Matthews to set up a manageable Seder field goal for a 10-7 lead.

The game never got much better as both teams seemed mired in the mud despite it being a beautiful early November day in Jacksonville. Brunell was missing McCardell and wide receiver Jimmy Smith seemingly had the entire Washington secondary on his back all afternoon long. Meanwhile, Spurrier began rotating Matthews with first-round selection Patrick Ramsey.

Seder kicked a pair of field goals in the third quarter as Ramsey stumbled in Washington's backfield. Coughlin knew he could play it safe and smart and find a way to end the losing streak.

The Jaguars ended any doubt about that strategy when Brunell threw a beautiful rainbow to Shaw, who was mismatched with linebacker LaVarr Arrington and hauled it in for a 48-yard strike. On first and 10 from the Washington 12, running back Fred Taylor took it right up the middle for a 23-7 lead.

Seder added a fourth-quarter field goal, his fourth of the day, and the Jaguars won 26-7 – their first and only win in seven games against Washington Football Team.

They moved to 4-5 on the season and would win only twice more in what became Coughlin's final season in Jacksonville. Spurrier would find only three more wins in 2002 and ended his first NFL season at 7-9.

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