ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
THIS WEEK: The Jacksonville Jaguars return home for the first time in a month and head into the second half of the 1998 season with a 6-2 record, the best ever in franchise history. The Jaguars will host the Cincinnati Bengals at 1:00 p.m. EST Sunday at ALLTEL Stadium. The Bengals are the only team in the AFC Central with a winning record against the Jaguars, having won four of six games from 1995 to '97. The Jaguars are 18-9 against their AFC Central rivals, including 10-3 at home and 8-6 on the road.
The Jaguars are coming off a 45-19 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the most points they have ever scored in a game, as they finished a three-game road swing with a 1-2 record. They return to ALLTEL Stadium, where they are 3-0 this year and have won 18 of their last 20 games. The Jaguars remain in first place in the AFC Central, with a one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers. This marks the first time they have been alone in first place this late in the season. The game is the Jaguars' last of eight straight against AFC teams, and they have won 18 of their last 23 regular-season games against AFC foes dating back to late 1996.
The Bengals are 2-6 after losing 33-26 to the Denver Broncos last Sunday in a game they led much of the way. The game will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams. They will play again on November 29 at Cincinnati's Cinergy Field.
The Jaguars have the fourth-best record in the NFL over the last 29 regular-season games dating back to November 24, 1996, when they began their late-season streak to the playoffs. The 22-7 record of the Jaguars in that time trails only Green Bay (24-5), San Francisco (23-6) and Denver (23-6). The Jaguars also have the third-best road record since late in the 1996 season, with a 9-6 mark in that time, trailing only San Francisco and Green Bay (and tied with Minnesota).
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The game will be televised regionally by CBS and locally by WJXT Channel 4. Don Criqui will call the play-by-play and Beasley Reece will add analysis.
RADIO BROADCAST: All of the Jaguars' games are broadcast on WOKV (690 AM), WBWL (600 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network. Brian Sexton calls the play-by-play and former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis. Sexton and Robinson are in their fourth season together. Robinson, Jennifer Kumik, Vic Ketchman, and Cole Pepper handle the pre-game show, and Pepper and ex-Oakland Raider Pete Banaszak do the post-game show. A total of 21 affiliates in four states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game.
THE OPPONENT: The Bengals were the second expansion team in the American Football League, starting play in 1968, when they finished 3-11 under Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown. They made the playoffs in their third season, the quickest ever for an expansion team until Jacksonville and Carolina did so in their second seasons in 1996. In 1982, the Bengals finished 12-4 under Forrest Gregg and advanced to Super Bowl XVI, where they lost to the San Francisco 49ers. After six seasons out of the playoffs, the Bengals again went 12-4 in 1988, appearing in Super Bowl XXIII, where they again lost to the 49ers with Sam Wyche as head coach. Their last playoff appearance was in 1990. In 1997, the Bengals finished 7-9 in Bruce Coslet's first full season as head coach, going 6-2 in the second half of the season. This year, they are 2-6, beating only Detroit on the road in overtime and Pittsburgh at home.
THE SERIES: The Bengals are the only AFC Central Division team with a series lead over the Jaguars, having won four of the six games between the two teams dating back to 1995, winning both games in 1995 and splitting the two games in each of 1996 and '97. All six games, however, have been decided by eight points or fewer. In 1995, the Bengals won 24-17 in Cincinnati and 17-13 in Jacksonville. In 1996, Cincinnati won at home 28-21 and Jacksonville won its home game 30-27. The Jaguars won last year's first matchup 21-13 in Jacksonville, then lost in Cincinnati 31-26.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars lost 31-26 to the Cincinnati Bengals at Cinergy Field on November 23, 1997. Led by Boomer Esiason, who had regained the team's quarterbacking role, the Bengals took a 28-7 lead in the second quarter and fought off a second-half rally by the Jaguars, who fell to 8-4 for the season, while the Bengals improved to 4-8. The Jaguars closed the gap to 31-23 heading into the fourth quarter, but they had just 67 yards, two turnovers and a field goal in four drives in the final period. Though the Jaguars gained a season-high 415 yards, they turned the ball over three times for the first time all season and had just one sack and no takeaways. The Jaguars were in the red zone six times and came away with just one touchdown and four field goals, while the Bengals scored four TDs and a field goal in their five trips inside the 20-yard line. Mark Brunell passed for 286 yards, Natrone Means ran for 96 yards and Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell each had 100-yard receiving games. But the defense allowed its most points in 27 games dating back to the second game of the 1996 season and let Cincinnati control the ball for 35:54 and converted seven third downs and a fourth down.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE BENGALS WOULD: Give them a 7-2 record and their best mark ever after nine games. It would also be their 23rd victory in their last 30 regular-season games dating back to 1996. A win would also give the Jaguars a 4-0 division record this season, 19-9 all time.
INJURY UPDATE: The only player injured in the Baltimore game was WR Keenan McCardell (sprained shoulder). Missing the game with injuries were: CB Dave Thomas (sprained ankle), S Chris Hudson (sprained ankle), RB Tavian Banks (sprained foot), RB Chris Howard (sprained ankle) and DT Seth Payne (shoulder). The status of all injured players will be updated during the week.
THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin has led the Jaguars to the playoffs each of the last two seasons, a first for an NFL expansion team. In 1997, the Jaguars finished 11-5 and lost the AFC Central Division championship on the fifth tiebreaker to Pittsburgh. The Jaguars were defeated by Denver in the Wild-Card playoffs. In their second season in 1996, the Jaguars advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game, finishing the regular season in second place in the division with a 9-7 record. In the playoffs, the Jaguars upset the Bills and Broncos on the road before losing at New England. In 1995, Coughlin's Jaguars finished with four victories in their inaugural season. He became head coach of the Jaguars on February 21, 1994 following three successful seasons as head coach at Boston College. Coughlin compiled a record of 21-13-1 from 1991 to '93 at Boston College, and had two appearances in bowl games and a ranking of 13th in the final AP poll of 1993. A veteran of 27 years of coaching, he was previously an NFL assistant coach with the New York Giants (wide receivers, 1988-90), Green Bay Packers (wide receivers and passing game coordinator 1986-87) and Philadelphia Eagles (wide receivers, 1984-85). He has a record of 30-26 during the regular season and 2-2 in the postseason.
Bruce Coslet entered his second full season in Cincinnati with a 14-11 record and the highest winning percentage of any coach in team history (.560), although the team is now 2-6 and his record has slipped to 16-17. Last year, the Bengals rebounded from a 1-7 start to finish the season 7-9. Coslet replaced Dave Shula in 1996, after Cincinnati started 1-6. Under Coslet, the Bengals responded by posting a 7-2 record. He joined the Bengals as offensive coordinator in 1994, taking over an offense that finished 27th in 1993 and improved to 18th. Coslet was head coach of the New York Jets (1990-93), compiling a 26-39 record, including a Wild-Card playoff appearance in 1991. Coslet's previous tour on the Bengals' staff lasted nine years (1981-89), and included a stint as offensive coordinator (1986-89). In 1988, Coslet was a key factor in the Bengals' trip to Super Bowl XXIII when his offense led the NFL in yards per game (378.6). During his first stay as offensive coordinator, the Bengals had the NFL's top-ranked offense twice (1986 and 1988) and led the NFL in rushing twice (1988-89). He began his coaching career with the San Francisco 49ers in 1980 as an assistant coach under Bill Walsh.
COUGHLIN FOURTH IN DIVISION VICTORIES: Nine weeks into the 1998 season, the Jaguars' Tom Coughlin is fourth among all current NFL coaches with a .667 winning percentage (18-9) in division games. The leaders are Marty Schottenheimer (73-30, .709 with Cleveland and Kansas City), Bill Cowher (32-14, .696 with Pittsburgh) and Mike Holmgren (35-17, .673 with Green Bay). Mike Ditka is fifth (61-35, .635 with Chicago and New Orleans).
JACKSONVILLE-CINCINNATI CONNECTIONS:Three Bengals previously played for the Jaguars: WR Willie Jackson (1995 to '97), DE Clyde Simmons (1996 and '97), and DT Mike Thompson (an original draft pick who played in 1995) … The Jaguars have two players from the state of Ohio: G/OT Brian DeMarco (Lorain) and DE Jabbar Threats (Springfield) … Seven Bengals are from the state of Florida: QB Jeff Blake (Sanford, born in Daytona Beach), WR Willie Jackson (Gainesville, University of Florida), FS Greg Myers (Tampa), C Rod Payne (Miami), CB Corey Sawyer (Key West, Florida State), C Greg Truitt (Sarasota) and LB Reinard Wilson (Lake City, Florida State). In addition, S Tremain Mack attended the University of Miami … Jaguars assistant strength and conditioning coach Greg Finnegan was born in Toledo … Jaguars defensive coordinator Dick Jauron was a Bengals defensive back from 1978 to '80 … Jaguars tight ends coach Fred Hoaglin was born in Alliance and he was also a sixth-round draft choice in 1966 by the Cleveland Browns … Jaguars running backs coach Jerald Ingram was born in Dayton … Jaguars inside linebackers coach Steve Szabo coached at Ohio State from 1979 to '81 … Jaguars LB James Hamilton was teammates with Bengals NT Andre Purvis and LB Brian Simmons at the University of North Carolina … Jaguars FB Zack Crockett and G/OT Todd Fordham played with Bengals DB Corey Sawyer and LB Reinard Wilson at Florida State … Jaguars CB Deon Figures and FS Chris Hudson were teammates at the University of Colorado with Bengals RB Eric Bieniemy … Jaguars G/OT Brian DeMarco and DE Jabbar Threats played with Bengals DB Myron Bell at Michigan State … Jaguars C Quentin Neujahr was a teammate of Bengals DB Thomas Randolph at Kansas State … Jaguars RB Tavian Banks was teammates with Bengals WR Damon Gibson and G Mike Goff at the University of Iowa … Jaguars DE Eric Curry played with Bengals DB Sam Shade at the University of Alabama … Jaguars RB Chris Howard was a teammate of Bengals C Rod Payne and DT Glen Steele at the University of Michigan … Jaguars RB James Stewart and CB Dave Thomas played at the University of Tennessee with Bengals WR Carl Pickens … Jaguars LB Kevin Hardy and Bengals G Ken Blackman played together at the University of Illinois … When Bengals head coach Bruce Coslet was head coach of the New York Jets, Jaguars DE Jeff Lageman and Bengals QB Jeff Blake were teammates … Jaguars CB Aaron Beasley and DB Mike Logan were teammates of Bengals C Rich Braham at West Virginia University … Jaguars CB Deon Figures and OT Leon Searcy were teammates of Bengals QB Neil O'Donnell with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bengals defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was on that Steelers coaching staff … Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith played in and won a Super Bowl with Bengals DB coach Ray Horton in Dallas in 1992.
JAGUARS VS. BENGALS:In five games between the two teams, Jaguars QB Mark Brunell (four starts, 2-2), has completed 81 of 143 passes for 1,102 yards, seven TDs and four interceptions. He has also run for two touchdowns and has one 300-yard passing game. … WR Jimmy Smith has 23 catches for 427 yards and two TDs, with two 100-yard games; and WR Keenan McCardell has 20 catches for 278 yards and one TD and one 100-yard game. TE Pete Mitchell has 17 receptions for 149 yards and one score. PK Mike Hollis has kicked 12 field goals in 15 attempts and nine extra points for 45 total points. … Bengals QB Neil O'Donnell has played three games against the Jaguars, two of them when he was with the Steelers and last year when he was a Jet. He has completed 36 of 60 passes for 460 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. Backup Jeff Blake started five games against Jacksonville, hitting 97 of 165 passes for 966 yards , eight TDs and five interceptions. In two 1997 games, RB Corey Dillon rushed 33 times for 123 yards and one TD. WR Carl Pickens does the most damage against the Jaguars. In the six games, he has 27 receptions for 369 yards and seven touchdowns (though he did not each the end zone in '97). WR Darnay Scott has 14 catches for 216 yards and one TD. TE Tony McGee has 15 receptions for 221 yards and one TD. PK Doug Pelfrey has kicked five fields goals in seven attempts and 17 of 18 extra points for 32 total points.
DAILY SCHEDULE:Interview times and practice for the next week are as follows:
|Tuesday||Players off||No availability||Players off|
|Wednesday||11:45 - 12:15 p.m.||12:15 p.m.||1:30 p.m.|
|Thursday||11:45 - 12:15 p.m.||12:15 p.m.||1:30 p.m.|
|Friday||1:15 - 1:30 p.m.||No availability||11:30 a.m.|
|Saturday||No availability||No availability||Walk through|
|Sunday||Jaguars vs. Bengals,||1:00 p.m.,||ALLTEL Stadium|
NEXT WEEK:The Jaguars host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4:15 p.m. Sunday, November 15 in ALLTEL Stadium. It will be Tampa Bay's first trip to Jacksonville and only the second game between the two teams. In 1995, the Jaguars' inaugural season, the Buccaneers won 17-16 at Tampa Stadium. The Buccaneers are 4-4 so far this season after beating the previously undefeated Minnesota Vikings 27-24 last Sunday. The Buccaneers have won three of their last four games, and they play four of their final eight games against AFC Central teams.
LAST WEEK:The Jaguars defeated the Baltimore Ravens 45-19 at Camden Yards, scoring their most points ever in a game after jumping out to a 42-7 lead. The Jaguars converted six takeaways into 24 points, scoring four different ways for the first time ever. Mark Brunell threw two touchdowns passes, Fred Taylor had TDs both on the ground and through the air, and the Jaguars scored on a blocked punt and on a fumble return. Taylor had 165 total yards from scrimmage, 87 rushing and 78 on a pass reception, and Brunell passed for 237 yards on only 20 attempts.
RECORD FIRST HALF:Not only was the Jaguars' 42 points in the first half against Baltimore a team record, but it is also the seventh most ever scored in the first half in NFL history. Green Bay owns the record, scoring 49 points against the Buccaneers in a 1983 game. Also ahead of the Jaguars are: 48, Buffalo vs. Miami in 1966; 45, Green Bay vs. Cleveland in 1967, Indianapolis vs. Denver in 1988, and Houston vs. Cleveland in 1990; 44, L.A. Rams vs. Green Bay in 1990.
The Jaguars' previous record for most points in a half was 27 on two occasions: 10/12/95 vs. Seattle (first half) and 11/10/96 vs. Baltimore (second half).
NOTES FROM THE RAVENS GAME:The Jaguars scored on their first four possessions for the first time ever, and they had six touchdowns in that time. … The Jaguars' 45 points set a team record, breaking the previous mark of 40 points on 9/6/97 vs. the New York Giants. The 26-point margin was the second most in Jaguars history, one point shy of the 27-point margin of the 40-13 win over the Giants. … Three players scored their first NFL touchdowns: Daimon Shelton (on a 2-yard run), Alvis Whitted (on a 24-yard return of a blocked punt), and Donovin Darius (on an 83-yard fumble return). … Fred Taylor's 78-yard reception for a touchdown marked the longest play from scrimmage in Jaguars history, breaking his record 77-yard run three weeks earlier vs. Miami. It also broke the team record for longest pass reception, which had been Jimmy Smith's 75-yarder last November 9 vs. Kansas City. It was also the longest pass ever allowed by the Ravens. Taylor now has the two longest runs and the longest reception in Jaguars history. … Whitted's blocked punt for a touchdown was the second in Jaguars' history. On November 3, 1995, Jimmy Smith turned the trick at Denver (and Travis Davis also did it at Denver in last year's playoffs). … Darius' 83-yard return of a fumble was the longest defensive score in team history, breaking Mickey Washington's record with a 48-yard interception return on 10/22/95. It was the Jaguars' first defensive TD since Chris Hudson's 32-yard fumble return on 11/2/97 at Tennessee. … Also making fumble recoveries were Bryan Schwartz, Travis Davis and Joel Smeenge, while Deon Figures had the team's lone interception. … The Jaguars had one turnover and five takeaways, making them plus-six for the season. … The Ravens failed on two attempts at two-point conversions, leaving Jaguars opponents 2 of 11 in four seasons. … The Jaguars' five takeaways and four fumble recoveries are both team records. … Taylor's 165 total yards is the third most in team history, behind Keenan McCardell's 232 on 10/20/96 at St. Louis and Taylor's 213 on 9/20/98 vs. Baltimore. … The Jaguars outgained the Ravens (364 to 357), but had fewer first downs (20 to 22) and less time of possession (28:04 to 31:56). … Both teams were 5 of 10 on third-down attempts (50 percent). … The Jaguars' 111 yards rushing marked their seventh time over 100 yards this season (in eight games). The team record is 10 times in 1997. … Mark Brunell completed 13 of 20 passes for 237 yards, two TDs and one interception. Brunell's 11.85 average gain per pass bettered his previous best of 11.08 on 9/22/96 at New England (432 yards on 39 attempts). The team record is 12.25 by Rob Johnson on 8/31/97 at Baltimore (294 yards on 24 attempts). … Jimmy Smith and Pete Mitchell both led the team with four catches, and Taylor's 78 yards paced the club. … The Jaguars had two sacks, by Bryce Paup and Joel Smeenge, giving them 13 for the year. … Bryan Barker punted three times for a 45.0-yard average, with one touchback. … LB Kevin Hardy led the team with 20 tackles (16 solo), which is the second-highest single-game total in Jaguars history (the record 21 by Bryan Schwartz on 12/17/95 at Detroit). S Donovin Darius had 10 tackles (4 solo). … Every player who dressed played for the first time all season, as QB Jamie Martin played most of the fourth quarter. … Friday's inactives were: RB Tavian Banks, S Chris Hudson, DE Lamanzer Williams and DT Seth Payne; Sunday's inactives were: QB Jonathan Quinn (third QB), RB Chris Howard, CB Dave Thomas and C John Wade. … Jaguars captains were OT Tony Boselli, WR Keenan McCardell, DT Renaldo Wynn and LB Brant Boyer.
FROM COACH TOM COUGHLIN ON THE RAVENS GAME:"There were a lot of big plays and great effort in the first half. You saw the magic of turnovers. We got two offensive scores off turnovers, a defensive score off a turnover and a score on a blocked punt. It was a real nice first half. A lot of good things were happening out there, a lot of people having fun playing, enjoying themselves and making plays. That is what it is all about. We did not do much offensively in the second half, but it is definitely a very good win for us. It is not every day that you can score 45 points. A lot of people contributed, a lot of people played well and took advantage of opportunities this time for us rather than squandering away points. Obviously the Ravens had their opportunities. They moved the ball, but being in the circumstance they were in, being behind, we were able to keep them out of the end zone."
(on being 6-2 and going a game up on Pittsburgh)"We are 6-2 at the halfway point of the season. It could be better, obviously, but it could be worse as well. We are happy to be here at 6-2 and proud of these players with the way that they came back today after losing to Denver a week ago. We did finish the three-game road trip with a win, and that was big. This was the essence of the NFL for us: We came on the road, a lot of people have jumped off the bandwagon, it was a game where we had to create our own excitement. What we talked about is getting our people to start fast, play hard, make some things happen, have fun and raise the level of our play to a championship-quality level."
FROM QB MARK BRUNELL:"This game was what we were looking for. We talked about it all week: getting a fast start and putting some points on the board early, and we were able to do that and it really helped us. We have had a rough couple of weeks and we needed to get back on track and end this three-game road swing on a positive note. Fortunately, the guys played well. It is a big bonus when your defense can come up with points and special teams comes up with a big touchdown - that really helps your football team. Hopefully this game will be a boost for us going into the second half of the season. We need to make sure that it happens.
(on the six wins over the Ravens)"Weird things do happen, but if you look at the history, aside from this year, the games have been very close and they have always come down to the end. Fortunately, in the first six games we have found ways to win games. We have beaten them, but I don't think you look at the past and say we've got their number. Next year is a new year. We have to play them again, they have a good team and hopefully they will be strong for the rest of the season.
(on Pittsburgh losing to Cincinnati)"That really helps us. We are only halfway through the season, there is a lot of football left to be played and Pittsburgh is not going to just lay down - none of the teams in the AFC Central are going to lay down. It will go down to the end.
(on Fred Taylor)"Fred is a great running back. He does a fine job. He can run the ball, he can catch, he is smart and he has got to be healthy. Fortunately he was healthy today and it showed. He played a nice game."
FROM OT LEON SEARCY:"We gave up 10 sacks in our last two two games which is very untypical of this offensive line. Today we just closed in a little bit tighter and got back to the fundamental basic things that make us a good football team. We were not the type of team that we wanted to be the past two weeks and we got back to the basics, which is important. We are 6-2 and the Steelers lost, so we are on top of the division. Our goal is to win the division, so this is where we want to be."
MILLER LITE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:The Jaguars' nominee for the Miller Lite Player of the Week Award is RB Fred Taylor, who had 165 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in the Jaguars' 45-19 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Taylor rushed 22 times for 87 yards and a score and caught a 78-yard pass for a touchdown, which is the longest play from scrimmage in Jaguars history.
THE TEAL IS REAL . . .Since November 24, 1996, when the Jaguars began their run to the '96 playoffs, their record is fourth best in the NFL behind Green Bay, San Francisco and Denver. The Jaguars have won 22 of their last 29 regular-season games. Here's a look at the league's best records since November 24, 1996:
. . . WITH THE THIRD-BEST RECORD AT HOME . . .The Jaguars have gone 7-1 at ALLTEL Stadium each of the last two seasons and are 3-0 this year, which gives them a 17-2 record, which is the fourth-best mark at home over the last three seasons. The Jaguars have lost only one home game since the second week of the 1996 season and have won 18 of their last 20 home games dating back to December 24, 1995, in their inaugural season. Here are the best home records in the NFL since the start of the 1996 season:
. . . AND THE THIRD-BEST RECORD ON THE ROAD . . .The Jaguars are one of only nine NFL teams with a better than .500 record on the road dating back to November 24, 1996. The Jaguars' 9-6 record away from home during that time is tied for the third-best mark in the NFL with Minnesota, behind only San Francisco and Green Bay. Here are the only teams in the league with a .500 or better record on the road since November 24, 1996:
|1. San Francisco||10-5||.667|
|2. Green Bay Packers||9-4||.692|
|3. Jacksonville Jaguars||9-6||.600|
|5. Denver Broncos||8-7||.533|
|8. Carolina Panthers||7-7||.500|
|Kansas City Chiefs||7-7||.500|
TAYLOR MADE FOR BIG PLAYS:Jaguars rookie RB Fred Taylor has started only four games so far, but he has quickly turned into one of the top big-play performers in the NFL. Taylor already has the two longest runs and the longest pass reception in Jaguars history, the top two rushing performances, and he is the only player in the NFL with touchdowns of more than 75 yards both running and receiving so far this year. Taylor is currently tied for fourth in the NFL with seven TDs, and he ranks second to New England's Robert Edwards among all NFL rookies in rushing yards and total yards from scrimmage.
In the four complete games he has played this year, Taylor has broken a long play in each of them - 52-yard TD run on 9/20 vs. Baltimore, 49-yard run on 9/27 at Tennessee, 77-yard TD run on 10/12 vs. Miami and 78-yard TD reception on 11/1 at Baltimore. With his three runs of 40 or more yards in three consecutive games, Taylor became the 11th player in the NFL since 1950 to do so. The other 10 players were: Lenny Moore (1956), Jim Brown (1958), Clarence Peaks (1960), Curtis McClinton (1962), Gale Sayers (1965), Franco Harris (1972), O.J. Simpson (1976), Ottis Anderson (1980), Bo Jackson (1990) and Barry Sanders (1997)
Taylor did not start the season's first two games when James Stewart was rushing for 100 yards in back-to-back games, he did not play on 10/18 at Buffalo because of a shoulder injury, and he missed more than a quarter of the 10/25 game at Denver with a mild concussion. Taylor was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in September.
After eight games, Taylor ranks 13th in the AFC in rushing, although the 12 players ahead of him all have at least 45 more carries. Taylor's 5.2-yard average is second best in the NFL after Terrell Davis' 5.7 average. Taylor has also gained 208 yards on 18 receptions, an average of 11.6 yards. His 701 total yards from scrimmage ranks 10th in the AFC, and his seven touchdowns is tied for third in the AFC and tied for fourth in the NFL.
As All-Pro offensive tackle Tony Boselli put it, "We all know he can go all the way at anytime. If we sustain our blocks and give him a little crease, he's going to make something big happen. He has the speed to go the distance. He can make people miss, and he has power, too. It's fun to block for him."
TWO TERRIFIC TANDEMS:Jaguars wide receivers Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith have each had consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, and they seek to join Minnesota's Cris Carter and Jake Reed as the only duos in NFL history to reach the milestone for three straight seasons. Carter and Reed have each compiled 1,000-yard receiving seasons for four consecutive years, and they can extend their record to five in 1998. Following is a chart comparing the receiving yards of the two terrific tandems:
Smith has now caught passes in 48 consecutive games, and McCardell in the last 40. However, McCardell suffered a sprained shoulder last Sunday at Baltimore and his status will be updated on Wednesday.
JAGUARS KICK RETURN TEAMS ARE REALLY SPECIAL:Since the midway point of the 1997 season, Reggie Barlow has been on a tear on both punt and kickoff returns. Here's a look at his numbers in the last 16 regular-season games:
Two weeks ago at Denver, Barlow returned six kickoffs for a team-record 206 yards, including a 91-yarder that set up a touchdown and is the second longest in team history to his 92-yarder last season. Currently, Barlow is fourth in the AFC in punt returns (13.3) and second in kickoff returns (27.6). In addition, in last year's AFC playoffs, he also returned three kickoffs for 118 yards, with a 52-yarder. Rookie Tavian Banks returned a kickoff 65 yards in Week 2 against Kansas City and has a 26.6-yard average on five kickoff returns. And last week at Baltimore, Mike Logan had a 96-yard return for a touchdown called back because of a penalty.
As a team, the Jaguars rank eighth in kickoff returns with a 23.8-yard average, and they are seventh in punt returns with a 13.4-yard average. The Jaguars' average start after kickoffs is the 28.1-yard line, fourth in the AFC and sixth in the NFL.
THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS:Of the 10 expansion teams in NFL history, the Jaguars have the most victories through four seasons. The Jaguars have 30 victories in three-plus seasons, compared to 27 for Carolina and 25 for Seattle (in four full seasons). Here's how NFL expansion teams fared in their first four seasons:
THE COMEBACK CAT:Since the Jaguars' inaugural season of 1995, QB Mark Brunell has led the Jaguars to 10 come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter. Here's a recap:
|Oct. 12, 1998||vs. Miami||28-21||Down 21-14 early in the forth quarter, Brunell threw two TD passes to Keenan McCardell for the victory on "Monday Night Football." The first score was a 23-yarder with 11:55 remaining to tie the game, and the game-winner came on a 56-yard pass with 2:44 left on the first play after a missed Miami field goal.|
|Sept. 27, 1998||at Tennessee||27-22||Trailing 22-21 entering the forth quarter, Brunell led the Jaguars to field goals on back-to-back possessions on drives of 10 and 13 plays.|
|Sept. 6, 1998||at Chicago||24-23||Down 23-17 with 4:08 to play, Brunell drove the Jaguars 87 yards in 12 plays, throwing a four-yard TD pass to Jimmy Smith for the winning score.|
|Sept. 22, 1997||vs. Pittsburgh||30-21||Down 21-20 with 10:28 remaining in the game, Brunell drove the Jaguars 72 yards in 13 plays, culminating in a 27-yard field goal from Mike Hollis with 4:14 left that gave Jacksonville the lead. Pittsburgh then drove downfield and attempted a winning field goal, which was blocked and returned for a touchdown.|
|Dec. 28, 1996||at Buffalo||30-27||Tied 20-20 heading into the quarter, Brunell threw a pass that was (Wild-Card) tipped, then intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He then led the Jaguars to 10 unanswered points, including a 2-yard TD pass to Jimmy Smith on third down, for the team's first-ever playoff victory.|
|Dec. 15, 1996||vs. Seattle||20-13||Down 13-7 entering the fourth quarter, the Jaguars scored 13 unanswered points to win 20-13. First, Brunell threw a 39-yard TD pass to Jimmy Smith, then Mike Hollis kicked field goals of 19 and 39 yards.|
|Nov. 24, 1996||at Baltimore||28-25 (OT)||Down 25-10 entering the fourth quarter. Scored two touchdowns on Brunell TD passes to Pete Mitchell and Willie Jackson and a two-point conversion on a Brunell run. Brunell led Jacksonville 48 yards on 9 plays to set up Mike Hollis' game-winning 34-yard field goal.|
|Nov. 10, 1996||Baltimore||30-27||Down 27-16 with 6:23 to play. Scored on last two possessions, an 8-yard pass from Brunell to James Stewart and a 1-yard run by Brunell (with Brunell throwing a pass to Keenan McCardell for a two-point conversion).|
|Dec. 24, 1995||Cleveland||24-21||Down 14-13, Brunell ran 27 yards for a TD and threw a pass for a two-point conversion for a 21-14 lead. Cleveland tied the game 21-21 with 1:13 to play, then Brunell led the Jaguars 63 yards in 5 plays for a 34-yard field goal by Mike Hollis for the game-winner.|
|Oct. 1, 1995||at Houston||17-16||Down 16-10 with 2:27 remaining, Jeff Lageman forced a fumble. Brunell, in a relief role, drove the Jaguars 45 yards in five plays, leading to a 15-yard TD pass to Desmond Howard and the extra point by Mike Hollis. It was the franchise's first-ever victory.|
BRUNELL'S TOUCHDOWN TARGETS:Mark Brunell has thrown 66 TD passes in four seasons in Jacksonville. Here are the 14 players who have caught them: Jimmy Smith (14), Keenan McCardell (11), Willie Jackson (10), Pete Mitchell (7), James Stewart (5), Damon Jones (5), Ernest Givins (3), Cedric Tillman (3), Fred Taylor (2), Andre Rison (2), Derek Brown (1), Ty Hallock (1), Desmond Howard (1), Natrone Means (1).
JAGUARS AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS:Through nine weeks, the Jaguars rank 6th in the NFL in total offense (6th rushing, 12th passing), and they rank 27th in defense (13th rushing and 28th passing). … The Jaguars have scored 209 points, an average of 26.1 per game, second in the conference behind Denver (34.1) and sixth in the NFL. … The Jaguars' offense is 10th in the NFL in third down percentage (44 of 105, 41.9 percent) and the defense is the 19th in the NFL in opponent's third-down conversions (40 of 105, 38.1 percent). A year ago in third down percentage, the Jaguars ranked 12th on offense (39.2 percent) and last on defense (45.1 percent). … The Jaguars are second in the AFC (and fourth in the NFL) with an average of 6.09 yards on first downs. Denver leads the conference with 6.58 yards. … The Jaguars' plus-6 difference in turnovers-takeaways is fourth in the AFC and tied for fourth in the NFL. … RB Fred Taylor is tied for third in the AFC with seven touchdowns … Mike Hollis is ninth in the AFC in scoring with 53 points. … QB Mark Brunell is fifth in the AFC in passing with a 97.3 rating, which would be a career high. Brunell's 14 TD passes leads the AFC and is fourth in the NFL. He also is fourth in the conference with a 103.1 passer rating in the fourth quarter. … WR Keenan McCardell is tied for second in the AFC with 42 catches, and Jimmy Smith is tied for eighth in the AFC with 36 receptions. Smith's 588 yards is tied for fourth in the AFC, and McCardell's 524 yards is seventh … Despite just four starts, Fred Taylor is 13th in the AFC with 493 yards rushing with. … In AFC total yards from scrimmage, Taylor is 10th with 701 yards. Smith is 16th with 588 yards. … Reggie Barlow is fourth in the AFC in punt returns (13.3-yard average) and second in kickoff returns (27.6 yards). … P Bryan Barker is 12th in the AFC in gross punting (43.3) and tied for sixth in net punting (37.2), but numbers can be deceiving. Barker has the third-fewest punts returned in the AFC (14), and he has the fewest return yards (96) and the sixth-most inside-the-20 punts in the conference (12). Says coach Tom Coughlin, "A lot of it is the short field. It's all strategy. I'm not worried about that part of it (Barker's average)."
1998 STATS AND SUCH:In eight games, the Jaguars have 17 plays of 30 or more yards. They had 22 plays of 30-plus yards in 1997, 26 in 1996 and 12 in 1995. … The Jaguars have outscored their opponents in the first quarter (52-26) and third quarter (48-23), have been outscored in the second quarter (69-76) and are tied in fourth quarter (40-40). … The offense has used six different starting lineup combinations in the eight games, while the defense has had a different starting lineup in all eight games. … Of the Jaguars' 146 completed passes this season, 86 have been to wide receivers, 22 to tight ends and 38 to running backs. … Jaguars opponents have begun 21 possessions inside their own 20, and they have scored on only one of those drives (1 FG). The Jaguars have begun 15 possessions inside their own 20, and they have scored on 2 of them (2 TD). On 28 drives inside the opponent's 20, the Jaguars have scored 14 TDs and 9 FGs. Their opponents have scored 13 TDs and 11 FGs in 26 trips. … The Jaguars have used turnovers to score 44 points, while their opponents have scored 22 points off turnovers. … In four seasons, the Jaguars are 7 for 11 on two-point conversions, while their opponents are 2 for 11 (the Jaguars had one attempt and conversion this year, which was nullified by a penalty). … The Jaguars are 2 for 3 on fourth-down conversions; their opponents are 5 of 8 this season.
In four seasons, the Jaguars are 1-0 in August, 8-8 in September, 7-9 in October, 7-5 in November and 7-4 in December. … Mark Brunell is 27-21 as a starter in regular-season games, 29-23 overall. … The average age of the 53-man roster as of November 2 was 26.08 years old. There were 25 players 25 or younger, 22 players between 26 and 29 years old, and six players 30 or older. The youngest player is RB Fred Taylor (22 years, 10 months), and the oldest is P Bryan Barker (34). … Ten rookies are on the roster, including eight of the 11 draft choices (RB Fred Taylor, S Donovin Darius, CB Cordell Taylor, QB Jonathan Quinn, RB Tavian Banks, C/G John Wade, DE Lamanzer Williams and WR Alvis Whitted) … More than half of the players (36) have four years or less of NFL experience, and only 5 players are in their eighth season or more. … There are 17 players who are new to the team this year, and 36 who were with the team before this year. In addition to the eight draft choices, the other nine new players are C Quentin Neujahr (restricted free agent from Baltimore); LB Bryce Paup (unrestricted free agent from Buffalo); QB Jamie Martin, DEs Fernando Smith and Eric Curry and RB George Jones (veteran free agent); RB Chris Howard and S Tawambi Settles (rookie free agents); and FB Zack Crockett (claimed off waivers). … The Jaguars have 11 players who were first-round selections in the college draft, including six of their own picks: DE Jeff Lageman, who is on I.R. (1989, New York Jets), DT Kelvin Pritchett (1991, Dallas Cowboys, but traded to Detroit on Draft Day), OT Leon Searcy (1992, Pittsburgh Steelers), CB Deon Figures (1993, Pittsburgh Steelers), DE Eric Curry (1993, Tampa Bay), OT Tony Boselli (1995, Jaguars), RB James Stewart, who is on I.R. (1995, Jaguars), LB Kevin Hardy (1996, Jaguars), DT Renaldo Wynn (1997, Jaguars), RB Fred Taylor (1998, Jaguars) and S Donovin Darius (1998, Jaguars).
In three seasons, four Jaguars have played in all 60 games (regular season and postseason) in franchise history: WR Jimmy Smith, TE Pete Mitchell, PK Mike Hollis and P Bryan Barker. TE Rich Griffith missed his first game last week when he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury … OT Leon Searcy has started the most consecutive games, 88 dating back to 1993 when he was with the Steelers. Searcy has played in 102 straight games. … Five players have played in more than 100 games during their careers: P Bryan Barker (127), DE Joel Smeenge (121), LB Bryce Paup (115), DT Kelvin Pritchett (108) and OT Leon Searcy (103). … Paup has 91 career starts, followed by Searcy (88). … OT Tony Boselli and QB Mark Brunell have each started 48 games for the Jaguars, followed by Ben Coleman (45). The longest current string of consecutive starts is shared by Coleman (40) and Searcy (40) after S Chris Hudson missed last week's game with a sprained ankle. Hudson had been the only defensive player to start every game from 1996 to '98, with a streak of 39 straight starts.