NEXT WEEK:The Jaguars will host the Tennessee Oilers at 1:00 p.m. EST in ALLTEL Stadium. It will be the second meeting of the year between the two teams. On September 27, the Jaguars defeated the Oilers 27-22 in Nashville for their fourth straight victory to start the season, as well as their fourth consecutive win over the Oilers. However, the Oilers have won two of the three games between the two teams in Jacksonville. After this season, the Oilers will be renamed the Tennessee Titans, and they will begin play in their new stadium next year.
LAST WEEK:Mark Brunell threw a career-high four touchdown passes in leading the Jaguars to a 34-17 victory over the Bengals in Cincinnati. With OT Tony Boselli and RB Fred Taylor getting injured on the same play in the first quarter, the Jaguars switched to mostly a passing mode and scored their most points in a month and second-most for the season. It was Brunell's 30th victory as the Jaguars' quarterback. He threw two TD passes to Keenan McCardell and one each to Jimmy Smith and Damon Jones. Following Taylor's injury, the Jaguars had trouble running the ball, and they gained only 79 yards on the ground all day. However, Brunell passed for 244 yards, his fourth most of the season, and he was not intercepted. The Jaguars had four takeaways and no turnovers, improving to plus-10 in 1998. The victory gives Jacksonville a 5-1 record in AFC Central games this season and a mark of 20-10 all time (they are 11-3 at home and 9-7 on the road). It was also their first win ever in Cincinnati, their third victory in four divisional road games this year (a team best), as well as their fourth victory away from home for the second straight season.
NOTES FROM THE BENGALS GAME:With the victory, the Jaguars are 2-2 this season on artificial turf after going 3-11 in their first three seasons (and never getting more than one turf win a year). They have one game remaining on artificial turf, December 20 at Minnesota. … The Jaguars gained 322 yards to Cincinnati's 355. The Jaguars also had fewer first downs (16 to 20) and less time of possession (29:25 to 30:35). … The Jaguars did fare better on third-downs, converting 7 of 17 (41 percent), while the Bengals were 5 of 15 (33 percent). … The Jaguars' 79 yards rushing was their second-fewest of the season (66 at Denver) … Mark Brunell completed 19 of 35 passes for 244 yards. His passer rating of 114.5 was his fourth highest of the season. Brunell's personal-best four TD passes gave him 20 for the year, breaking his single-season team record of 19 set in 1996. … Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell each had seven receptions, and Smith's 110 yards led the team and marked his third 100-yard game of the year and 13th of his career. Smith's TD reception was his seventh of the season, tying his own team record that he set in 1996. McCardell's two scores marked the sixth two-TD game of his career and gave him five TD receptions for the season, tying his personal high set last year. … Reggie Barlow had three punt returns for 69 yards (long of 32) to break his own team record for single-season punt return yards with 438 (the previous mark was 412 in 1997).
THE TAYLOR REPORT:Fred Taylor left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder contusion after rushing six times for 16 yards (2.7-yard average). It was his lowest output since the season opener. … Taylor has rushed for 822 yards for the season and is one yard short of Natrone Means' team record of 823 yards set last year. … With 16 total yards in the game, Taylor is 182 shy of Jimmy Smith's team record of 1,324 total yards set in 1997.
Corey Dillon's 61-yard run in the third quarter was the longest of the season against Jacksonville. He also had the third 100-yard rushing game against the team this year. … The Jaguars had one sack in the game, putting them at 20 for the season. They gave up just one sack for the second straight week. … Bryan Barker punted six times for a 45.5-yard average, with no touchbacks and three inside the 20. He had five punts returned for 49 yards. … Mike Hollis, who kicked a season-best 47-yard field goal, scored 10 points, tied for his second-best output of the season. He has been successful on his last seven field goal attempts and 11 of his last 12. … Chris Hudson made his team-leading third interception of the year, giving him eight for his career, tops in franchise history. Kevin Hardy got his second interception of the season and fourth of his career. … Dave Thomas forced his fourth fumble of the season on a kickoff. That is tied for third most in a season in team history. Kevin Hardy also recovered a fumble, his first of the year. … MLB Tom McManus led the team with 10 tackles (3 solo), followed by WLB Kevin Hardy, S Travis Davis and CB Aaron Beasley with 7 tackles each. … The only player who dressed but did not play was QB Jamie Martin. … OL John Wade, TE/LS Troy Sadowski and LB Reggie Lowe played for the first time since joining the Jaguars. … Friday's inactives were: RB Tavian Banks, CB Cordell Taylor, LB Brant Boyer and G/OT Jeff Novak; Sunday's inactives were: QB Jonathan Quinn (third QB), CB Kevin Devine, DE Lamanzer Williams and G/OT Todd Fordham … Jaguars captains were OT Tony Boselli, WR Keenan McCardell, LB Bryce Paup and CB Dave Thomas.
FROM COACH TOM COUGHLIN ON THE BENGALS GAME:"On the road, you must win in your division. We're 9-3, and we're happy about that. We've got a couple of guys nicked today (OT Tony Boselli and RB Fred Taylor), but hopefully we're going to get them back. Hopefully, this victory is a sign of momentum and we'll play a little bit better football. We still haven't played our best ball in a while, and I think we're capable of improving and doing even more.
(on the getting four takeaways) "We made some adjustments on both sides of the ball and we got some turnovers again, which was critical. We're plus-4 today, and we did not turn it over. That is the quest.
(on the impact of the injuries to Fred Taylor and Tony Boselli) "On one play we lost both Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor. Fred could have come back late in the game if we needed him, but I chose to keep him on the sideline. We didn't rush the ball well, and that is a problem. Not being able to rush the ball against a team that was ranked 30th in the league against the run is certainly nothing to speak about. We decided that the strongest part of our offense was going to be the quarterback and the throwing game, so we put the ball up, and we did so effectively. And we really needed to do that. We needed to bring some confidence back. I think we had a pretty good day in the pass area.
(on challenging the offensive playmakers) "Mark (Brunell) was very serious about his week of preparation. His time was very serious at practice. He was up-tempo. He did a nice job from day to day during the week in terms of his percentage. It was a challenge and he took it. He's a competitor and he took the challenge, and the other guys did as well. Keenan (McCardell) was a nice spark for us. He's starting to get healthier. It was a nice spark for us this week, but it wasn't just that aspect of it. I just felt we weren't achieving. We weren't doing the job that we were capable of doing. And that was disappointing to me, and I still think we have a ways to go. But I will say this: At this time in the season, it appears that we do have nicks and we do have to make adjustments, but I thought the response to the adjustments was very solid."
FROM QB MARK BRUNELL:"I think the offense, as a whole, responded. I felt that to get things going we've been challenged all week and we had our worst outing in a long time last week. So it was important for us to get the ball moving. I certainly was bothered after the last game - three interceptions, two defensive scores, basically giving Pittsburgh 14 points. But I didn't approach anything different this week - I just needed to work hard, study and watch a lot of film, and approach it just like any other week. There are going to be days like that, unfortunately. But, what's important is that you bounce back, you come back strong, and that's what you've got to do for your team. One of the best things about the NFL is that there is a new Sunday just a week away, and that's important.
(on the importance of winning on the road and getting on a roll as December approaches) "This is the time you've got to play your best football. Last week that was not the case. And coach Coughlin challenged us all week in a way only he can do, and we knew we had to get things going. Hopefully, we can use this game as a motivation, and I think we'll do that. We're home for the next two weeks, so that will be nice. Still, there's a lot of football to be played. Anything could happen in these last four games. I think the important thing for us is to worry about ourselves and not be concerned about what other teams are doing."
FROM C QUENTIN NEUJAHR :""Coach Coughlin was much more intense than everybody else this week. He said that this is the team that we need to beat because we had never won in Cincinnati before. It gets the monkey off our back, and it's also a conference game, and we're still in the race.
(on Coughlin challenging the offense) "He calls us out every day, and he might do it again this week since we were 3-and-out the first two series we had the ball."
FROM LB KEVIN HARDY: (on creating points off turnovers) "That's something we've got to get back to, and we got 17 points that way today. Last week we lost the game the same way, by giving up 14 points. We had four takeaways and we didn't give away any on offense. In our scheme we know that passing turnovers will come. That's our best chance. We try to get back to our game with stealing the ball and get the ball back to the offense. Hopefully we're back on track and we need to take what we did today into next week."
MILLER LITE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:The Jaguars' nominee for the Miller Lite Player of the Week Award is QB Mark Brunell, who threw a career-high four touchdowns passes in the Jaguars' 34-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Brunell completed 19 of 34 passes for 244 yards and was not intercepted in leading the Jaguars to their ninth victory of the season.
THE TEAL IS REAL . . .Since November 24, 1996, when the Jaguars began their run to the '96 playoffs, their record is the fourth best in the NFL behind Denver, Green Bay and San Francisco. The Jaguars have won 25 of their last 33 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 5-0 this year, which gives them a 19-2 record, which is tied for the third-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 20 of their last 22 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 FOURTH-BEST RECORD ON THE ROAD . . .The Jaguars are one of only five NFL teams with a better than .500 record on the road dating back to November 24, 1996. The Jaguars' 9-7 record away from home during that time is tied for the fourth-best mark in the NFL with Denver, behind only Green Bay, San Francisco and Minnesota. Here are the only teams in the league with a .500 or better record on the road since November 24, 1996:
TAYLOR MADE FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?Jaguars rookie RB Fred Taylor is not only a strong contender for Rookie of the Year, but he has quickly turned into one of the top big-play performers in the NFL. Although Taylor did not play much until James Stewart was injured in the season's third game and has missed one full game and most of two others with injuries, he already has accomplished the following:
- Has the three longest runs in Jaguars history (77, 70 and 52 yards, as well as a 49-yarder)
- Has the longest pass reception in Jaguars history (78 yards)
- Has four 100-yard games this season, already the team single-season record
- Has the top four rushing performances in Jaguars history (128, 128, 118 and 116 yards)
- Is the only player in the NFL with TDs of more than 75 yards both running and receiving so far this year
- Has 12 touchdowns, already the team's single-season record
- Has 10 rushing touchdowns, already the team's single-season record
- Has scored touchdowns in each of the last eight games in which he played
- Is tied for the second-most TDs in the NFL (behind Denver's Terrell Davis)
- Is 11th in the AFC in rushing with 822 yards and leads all rookie rushers
- Has already broken the Jaguars' single-season rookie rushing record
- Needs just 2 rushing yards to break the team's single-season record (823, by Natrone Means in 1997)
- Is sixth in the AFC with 1,142 total yards from scrimmage
- Has a 4.9-yard rushing average, which trails only Denver's Terrell Davis
Minnesota WR Randy Moss is another Rookie of the Year contender, but Moss has only 47 receptions for 1,014 yards and 11 touchdowns, one less than Taylor. Taylor also has 124 more total yards and four 100-yard rushing games, as compared o Moss' three 100-yard receiving games.
In his first three games as the main ballcarrier, Taylor had runs of 52, 49 and 77 yards, making him only the 11th player in the NFL since 1950 to have runs of 40 or more yards in three consecutive games. 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 Stewart was rushing for 100 yards in back-to-back games; he did not play on October 18 at Buffalo because of a shoulder injury; he missed more than a quarter of the October 25 game at Denver with a mild concussion; and he missed three quarters of last Sunday's game after reaggravating his shoulder injury. Taylor was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in September and he was the Miller Lite NFL Player of the Week for his November 15 performance vs. Tampa Bay.
As All-Pro offensive tackle Tony Boselli put it, "We all know he can go all the way at any time. 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 52 consecutive games, and McCardell in the last 43 that he has played. McCardell missed the November 8 game against Cincinnati with a sprained shoulder. He was on pace for a 1,000-yard season before his injury.
JAGUARS KICK RETURN TEAMS ARE REALLY SPECIAL:After 12 games, the Jaguars' Reggie Barlow leads the AFC in punt returns and is sixth on kickoff returns (after dropping three spots this week). Here's a look at Barlow's statistics for both punt returns and kickoff returns so far this year:
Six 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.
Also, in the last five weeks, Mike Logan has been on a tear. He had a 96-yard return for a touchdown called back because of a penalty at Baltimore, and he has returns of 51 and 53 yards the last month. For the season, Logan has returned 14 kickoffs for 328 yards, a 23.4-yard average that would rank ninth in the AFC if he had one more return needed to qualify among the leaders. In addition, 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.
As a team, the Jaguars are 13th in the NFL in kickoff returns with a 22.8-yard average (dropping six spots this week), and they are tied for third in punt returns with a 13.8-yard average. The Jaguars' average start after kickoffs is the 28.8-yard line, fourth in the AFC and fifth 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 33 victories in three-plus seasons, compared to 28 for Carolina and 25 for Seattle (in four full seasons). Here's how NFL expansion teams fared in their first four seasons:
The only expansion teams to make the playoffs in their first four seasons are Jacksonville (1996 and '97), Carolina (1996), Cincinnati (1970) and Tampa Bay (1979)
THE COMEBACK CAT: Since the Jaguars' inaugural season of 1995, QB Mark Brunell has led the Jaguars to 11 come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter, including four times this year. Here's a recap: