ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
THIS WEEK: Coming off a thrilling 24-23 last-minute victory over the Chicago Bears, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Kansas City Chiefs in their home opener at 1:00 p.m. EDT Sunday in ALLTEL Stadium.
The Jaguars are 2-1 in home openers in their first three seasons, with victories against Pittsburgh in 1996 and the New York Giants last season. The Chiefs have won five of their last six road openers, with the only road loss coming last year at Denver.
In their 1998 season openers last Sunday, the Jaguars defeated the Chicago Bears when Mark Brunell threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Smith with 29 seconds left in the game. The Chiefs beat the Oakland Raiders 28-8 at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Jaguars' victory was their their third straight on opening day, giving them a record of 3-1 in four seasons, which is the second-best opening-game record in the NFL after the Dallas Cowboys (29-9-1, .756). It was also Jacksonville's third consecutive road victory in the regular season (they closed 1997 with back-to-back wins at Buffalo and Oakland) and their first win on the road vs. an NFC team. And it gave them a 25-24 record in regular-season play over four seasons, the first time the Jaguars have been over .500 in franchise history.
TICKET INFORMATION: A limited number of tickets are available. Call (904) 633-2000 for ticket information.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The game will be televised regionally by CBS and locally by WJXT Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will call the play-by-play and Phil Simms will add analysis. Armen Keteyian will report from the sidelines.
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 Chiefs were an original member of the American Football League, beginning play in 1960 as the Dallas Texans. Owned by Lamar Hunt, the founder of the AFL, the team won the 1962 AFL Championship, then moved to Kansas City in 1963. They won the 1966 AFL title and played in the first Super Bowl, and they won their first Super Bowl in 1969, defeating Minnesota. The Chiefs finished out of the playoffs for 14 straight seasons from 1972 to '85, but they qualified for postseason play every year from 1990 to '95. In 1996, the Chiefs finished 9-7 and lost out on a playoff tiebreaker to the Jaguars. Last season the Chiefs finished 13-3 and won the AFC Western Division but were defeated in the divisional playoffs by eventual Super Bowl champion Denver (the same team that knocked Jacksonville out of the playoffs). One of Kansas City's three regular-season losses in 1997 was to Jacksonville. The Chiefs' 55-25 record from 1993 to '97 is the best mark in the AFC. They are coached by Marty Schottenheimer, who ranks second among active coaches and 12th all-time in victories.
THE SERIES: The Jaguars and Chiefs have played only once in the regular season, with Jacksonville winning 24-10 on November 9, 1997 at ALLTEL Stadium. The two teams played three weeks ago during the preseason, with Kansas City winning at home 22-21.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars defeated Kansas City 24-10 on November 9, 1997 at ALLTEL Stadium for their 11th straight victory at home. Mark Brunell threw a touchdown pass to Pete Mitchell, and Natrone Means and James Stewart combined for 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead the Jacksonville win. The Jaguars led 24-3 at halftime and then forced five Kansas City turnovers in the second half. Even though the Chiefs won the statistical battles (424 to 332 in yards, 23 to 16 in first downs and 36:14 to 23:46 in time of possession), they got their only score on a fumble return by Danan Hughes after Jacksonville's Chris Hudson made an interception and then fumbled the ball. The Jaguars sacked Chiefs quarterback Rich Gannon six times to set a team record (since tied).
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE CHIEFS WOULD: Mark their second straight season with victories in their first two games and be their 18th victory in their last 23 regular-season games dating back to 1996. It would also be their 16th win in their last 17 home games.
INJURY UPDATE: DE Jeff Lageman suffered a torn right bicep in the Chicago game and will be out indefinitely. Still recovering from injuries are: LB James Hamilton (ankle) and DE Tony Brackens (ankle). 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 25-24 during the regular season and 2-2 in the postseason.
In 13 full seasons as a head coach (nine with Kansas City), Marty Schottenheimer has never had a losing season. Last season he directed the Chiefs to an NFL-best 13-3 mark and their third AFC West title in the last five seasons. During that span, he won two AFC Western Division titles with Kansas City and three AFC Central Division titles with Cleveland. After leading the Browns to a 12-4 record and second consecutive division crown, Schottenheimer earned AFC Coach of the Year honors in 1986. He joined the Browns in 1980 as defensive coordinator and was named head coach midway through the 1984 season. He was linebackers coach (1975-76) and defensive coordinator (1977) for the Giants. He coached Lions linebackers in 1978-79. He was an assistant with the Portland Storm of the WFL (1974). Schottenheimer has a record of 139-76-1 in the regular season and 5-11 in postseason.
COACHING DIVISION VICTORIES: One game into the 1998 season, the Jaguars' Tom Coughlin is tied for fifth among all current NFL coaches with a .625 winning percentage (15-9) in division games. The leaders are Bill Cowher (31-12, .721 with Pittsburgh), Marty Schottenheimer (71-30, .645 with Cleveland and Kansas City), Mike Holmgren (34-15, .694 with Green Bay), Mike Ditka (60-32, .652 with Chicago and New Orleans) and Ray Rhodes (15-9, .625 with Philadelphia).
JACKSONVILLE-KANSAS CITY CONNECTIONS: Jaguars partner Deron Cherry is one of the most celebrated and popular players in Chiefs history. From 1981 to
91 he was known as the finest free safety in the AFC. Cherry entered the pro ranks as a rookie free agent punter and was inducted into the Chiefs' Hall of Fame in 1995 … Jaguars P Bryan Barker was the Chiefs' punter from 1990 to93 … Chiefs WR Andre Rison played 10 games for the Jaguars in 1996, catching 34 passes for 458 yards and two touchdowns … Chiefs CB Bucky Brooks played in a total of nine regular-season and three postseason contests for the Jaguars in 1996 and `97. In '96, he returned 17 kickoffs for 412 yards to lead the club with a 24.2-yard average. … Chiefs strength and conditioning coach Jeff Hurd was the Jaguars' assistant strength and conditioning coach from 1995 to '97 … One Jaguar is from the state of Missouri: FB Ron Janes (Clarence, South Shelby High and University of Missouri) … Four Chiefs are from the state of Florida: FB Donnell Bennett (Ft. Lauderdale, University of Miami), DE John Browning (Miami), WR Tamarick Vanover (Tallahassee and Florida State, where he played with Jaguars G/OT Todd Fordham), LB Derrick Thomas (Miami) … Jaguars special teams coordinator Larry Pasquale coached with Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer and RB coach Jimmy Raye in 1979 with the Detroit Lions … Jaguars defensive line coach John Pease was a coach for the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars when Chiefs president Carl Peterson was the Stars' president/general manager and Chiefs tight ends/offensive assistant coach Jim Erkenbeck was also on the staff. Erkenbeck was on the staff in Montreal in 1978 with Pasquale … Chiefs defensive line coach Bob Karmelowicz was the defensive line coach at the University of Miami from 1989 to '91… Chiefs quality control coach Brian Schottenheimer backed up former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel at the University of Florida … Chiefs defensive backs coach Kurt Schottenheimer was a two-year starting defensive back at the University of Miami from 1970 and '71 … Jaguars DE Jeff Lageman was a teammate of Chiefs P Louie Aquiar and CB James Hasty with the New York Jets … Jaguars CB Kevin Devine and TE Tony Gonzalez were teammates at the University of California … Jaguars OT Leon Searcy played at the University of Miami with Chiefs FB Donnell Bennett … Jaguars CB Aaron Beasley and DB Mike Logan were teammates at the University of West Virginia with Chiefs DE John Browning … Jaguars RB James Stewart and CB Dave Thomas played at the University of Tennessee with Chiefs CB Dale Carter, and Stewart also played at Tennessee with Chiefs C Jeff Smith … Jaguars P Bryan Barker played in Philadelphia with Chiefs CB Mark McMillian … Jaguars LB Jeff Kopp and LB Brant Boyer played for the Miami Dolphins with Chiefs PK Pete Stoyanovich … Jaguars TE Rich Griffith and LB Brant Boyer played with Chiefs DT Ty Parten at the University of Arizona. Griffith also played with Chiefs OT Glenn Parker in 1989 … Chiefs DT Darius Holland played with Jaguars DBs Deon Figures and Chris Hudson at the University of Colorado … Jaguars C Quentin Neujahr was a teammate of Chiefs WR Kevin Lockett at Kansas State … Jaguars LB James Hamilton played with Chiefs CBs Robert Williams and former Jaguar Bucky Brooks at the University of North Carolina.
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will host the Baltimore Ravens at 4:15 p.m. EDT Sunday, September 20 at ALLTEL Stadium. It will be the fifth game between the two teams, and the Jaguars have won the previous four games (as well as two over the Cleveland Browns in 1995). In 1997, the Jaguars defeated the Ravens 28-27 in the season opener on August 31 at Baltimore, and they won the season's second matchup 29-27 on November 27 in Jacksonville. The two teams will play in Baltimore's new stadium on November 1.
LAST WEEK: The Jaguars won their 1998 season opener 24-23 over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field when Mark Brunell passed four yards to Jimmy Smith for the winning touchdown with 29 seconds remaining. The victory gave the Jaguars three straight opening-game victories and was their first come-from-behind victory since defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 22, 1997. The Jaguars trailed by six points with 4:08 remaining and drove 87 yards in 12 plays for the winning score, and Brunell called the drive "the greatest drive in franchise history."
James Stewart set a franchise record for rushing yards in a game (115) and scored two touchdowns. But three Jacksonville turnovers and a miscue on a kickoff return helped Chicago to all 13 of its first-half points. Chicago had only two drives of more than 35 yards in the game, and they led to a touchdown and a field goal in the second half. The Jaguars did take advantage of two Chicago turnovers in the second half, scoring 10 points after recovering fumbles on successive drives.
NOTES FROM THE BEARS GAME: The 88 degree temperature at kickoff was the hottest ever for a Jaguars' game, surpassing the previous high of 87 degrees on September 8, 1996 vs. Houston in Jacksonville. … The win gave the Jaguars a record of 1-4 vs. NFC Central teams and 5-8 vs. NFC teams in four seasons … It was their first-ever road win vs. an NFC team … The Jaguars' win marked only the second time the team won despite a negative turnover ratio (now 2-15). … Despite outgaining the Bears 197 yards to 68 in the first half, the Jaguars trailed 13-7 … For the game, the Jaguars had more first downs (21 to 16), yards (367 to 321) rushing yards (160 to 132) and passing yards (207 to 189). The Bears held the time of possession advantage (30:10 to 29:50), but the Jaguars converted 7 of their 14 third down attempts and held the Bears to 5 of 13 (38%). … Mark Brunell completed 22 of 35 passes for 207 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. He also ran six times for 43 yards, the most he's gained since the 1996 playoffs at Denver. Brunell went over 10,000 yards passing for his career. He entered the game with 9,911 yards. … James Stewart rushed 26 times for 115 yards, setting a regular-season single-game record for yardage (previous: 112 yards by Stewart on Oct. 20, 1996 at St. Louis). His 137 combined yards were his second best ever (his high is 143 on 11/2/97 at Tennessee), and he had a 30-yard run that tied for the third-longest of his career. Stewart scored a touchdown both rushing and receiving, giving him 24 touchdowns for his career. … The team's 160 yards rushing tied for the third most in franchise history; the record is 179. … Jimmy Smith caught a game-high nine passes for 90 yards and one TD, which was his first since last November 19 at Dallas. His nine receptions is the second most in his career. … Keenan McCardell had seven receptions for 72 yards. … Bryan Barker punted five times for a 43.0-yard average, no touchbacks, two inside the 20 and a long of 54. Chicago had just four yards on one punt return. … MLB Bryan Schwartz led the team with 16 tackles (4 solo), and CB Aaron Beasley and SLB Bryce Paup each had 9 tackles. … Game balls went to RB James Stewart (offense) and CB Dave Thomas and DT John Jurkovic (defense). … Rookie Donovin Darius made his first NFL start, becoming the fifth Jaguars rookie to start on opening day. He joined TE Pete Mitchell, OT Brian DeMarco and RB James Stewart (1995) and LB Kevin Hardy (1996). … The Jaguars had three turnovers and two takeaways. … The only players who dressed but did not play were QB Jamie Martin, C John Wade and OT Jeff Novak … Friday's inactives were: LB James Hamilton, G Rich Tylski, DE Tony Brackens and DT Kelvin Pritchett; Sunday's inactives were: QB Jonathan Quinn (third QB), CB Kevin Devine, FB Ron Janes and G/OT Todd Fordham. … Jaguars captains were DE Jeff Lageman, DT John Jurkovic and OTs Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy.
THE WINNING DRIVE:Jaguars QB Mark Brunell called the team's winning drive vs. Chicago "the greatest drive in franchise history."
The Jaguars drove 87 yards in 12 plays. Brunell completed 8 of 9 passes for 73 yards, hitting his first seven passes on the drive. He also ran twice for 12 yards (James Stewart had two yards on a rush to total 87). The first seven plays were called by the coaching staff. After the 2:00 minute warning with the ball on the 25-yard line, Brunell took over calling the plays until a timeout was called prior to the winning play.
"Mark did what he had to do when he had to do it," said McCardell. "And that's what the great ones do."
FROM COACH TOM COUGHLIN ON THE BEARS GAME:"We lacked consistency today. We're happy to win, because wins are hard to come by in this league, but we have a lot of things to work on. it was a hard-fought win. We played hard, but we didn't do a lot of things well and the turnovers were terrible. But I think you have to give credit to the Chicago Bears. They came to play. I am pleased to win the game, but we have a lot of things to be corrected before we can expect to win consistently in this league.
(on the winning drive) "The 87-yard drive at the end consumed all of the time and left them with not enough to do anything about it, so I'm pleased with the win and I'm excited about the way we came back. The drive was the best one we've had in a long time, including practice. We didn't have the pressure of it being exclusively two minutes and that helped us a lot. We only had one timeout, so if it were only two minutes then it would have been much more difficult. We did get a chance and everybody was sharp and we knew exactly what needed to be accomplished and I was pleased with that.
(on Mark Brunell) "There were times when he looked really good and there were times when he wasn't as accurate as he should have been. But he kept fighting away, and the key thing is to keep battling and we got him back in the offense a little bit when he was not having a real good day. No doubt about it that it wasn't his best day and it wasn't our prettiest performance, but the courage and toughness was there.
FROM PK MIKE HOLLIS: (on the Bears' returning a kickoff for a touchdown, even though replays showed the runner was down) "I can't believe -- how many refs are on the field? Seven? I was the only guy left and he tried to jump over me and I just got enough of his leg to get him down. I don't know how many tackles I've had like that. When he got up and ran, I had no idea what was going on. I tried to say something to the official, but he ignored me. I showed him my arms. I have scratches and the dirt to prove that I tackled him. But that's part of the game."
FROM QB MARK BRUNELL: "We're very fortunate; the guys rallied. At that time of the game, it's time to really step up, and we made some plays. We had four minutes left on the clock, one time out, so we had to be smart with the plays that were called. But the guys made the catches, the protection was there and we were able to get a touchdown, which was critical. I think that was one of our best drives in franchise history. We can take a lot from this game and we will.
"You have to have all of the confidence in the world that you are going to take your team downfield, and fortunately we did that. But all of the guys were confident. If any team knows about adversity, it's our team. We've been behind and in the doghouse many times and we've bounced back, and that's traditionally been the character of this football team to never give up. We continued that today, fortunately.
"I think we may have been a little tight, kind of feeling our way into this game and we can't do that. I think this was a big wake up call for us we need to start fast; we've done that in the past and we need to do that again. Regardless of what people say about the opponent, it's a tough to win in this league. You have to give a lot of credit to Chicago. This is a fine football team, and they're going to be a lot better then people think. That's the way games go sometimes. We're not the Gators; we're not going to blow people out by six touchdowns every time."
MILLER LITE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The Jaguars' nominee for the Miller Lite Player of the Week Award is RB James Stewart, who rushed for a team-record 115 yards on 26 carries and scored two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving). Stewart caught 3 passes for 22 yards.
THE TEAL IS REAL . . .Since November 24, 1996, when the Jaguars began their run to the '96 playoffs, their record is the third best in the NFL. The Jaguars have won 16 of their last 21 regular-season games. Here's a look at the league's best records since November 24, 1996:
Team Reg. Season Reg. Season Total
Green Bay Packers 5-0 13-3 18-3
San Francisco 49ers 4-1 13-3 17-4
Jacksonville Jaguars 5-0 11-5 16-5
Denver Broncos 3-2 12-4 15-6
Kansas City Chiefs 1-4 13-3 14-7
New England Patriots 4-1 10-6 14-7
Pittsburgh Steelers 2-3 11-5 13-8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-2 10-6 13-8
. . . WITH THE THIRD-BEST RECORD AT HOME . . .The Jaguars have gone 7-1 at ALLTEL Stadium each of the last two seasons, which is tied for the third-best record at home in 1996 and '97. The Jaguars' 13-game home winning streak was snapped on December 7, 1997 when they were defeated by the New England Patriots. That was their first home loss since September 10, 1996, when they lost to the Houston Oilers. The Jaguars are 14-2 at home in the last two years and have won 15 of their last 17 home games dating back to December 24, 1995, in their inaugural season. Here are the best home records in the NFL in 1996 and '97:
Rk. Team 1996 1997 Total
- Green Bay Packers 8-0 8-0 16-0
Denver Broncos 8-0 8-0 16-0
- Jacksonville Jaguars 7-1 7-1 14-2
Pittsburgh Steelers 7-1 7-1 14-2
- San Francisco 49ers 6-2 8-0 14-2
- Kansas City Chiefs 5-3 8-0 13-3
New England Patriots 6-2 6-2 12-4
. . . AND FOURTH-BEST RECORD ON THE ROAD . . . The Jaguars are one of only six NFL teams with a better than .500 record on the road (including postseason) dating back to November 24, 1996. The Jaguars' 8-6 record away from home during that time is the fourth-best mark in the NFL, and their eight victories is tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the most road wins in that time. Here are the only teams in the league with a better-than-.500 record on the road since November 24, 1996:
Team W-L-T Pct.
Green Bay Packers 7-3 .700
San Francisco 49ers 8-4 .667
Carolina Panthers 7-4 .636
Jacksonville Jaguars 8-6 .571
New York Giants 5-4-1 .550
Kansas City Chiefs 6-5 .545
THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS: Here's how NFL expansion teams fared in their first four seasons:
Team 1ST SEASON 2ND SEASON 3RD SEASON 4TH SEASON
Dallas 1960 0-11-1 1961 4-9-1 1962 5-8-1 1963 4-10
Minnesota 1961 3-11 1962 2-12-1 1963 5-8-1 1964 8-5-1
Atlanta 1966 3-11 1967 1-12-1 1968 2-12 1969 6-8
Miami 1966 3-11 1967 4-10 1968 5-8-1 1969 3-10-1
New Orleans 1967 3-11 1968 4-9-1 1969 5-9 1970 2-11-1
Cincinnati 1968 3-11 1969 4-9-1 1970 8-7 1971 4-10
Seattle 1976 2-12 1977 5-9 1978 9-7 1979 9-7
Tampa Bay 1976 0-14 1977 2-12 1978 5-11 1979 11-7
Jacksonville 1995 4-12 1996 11-8 1997 11-6 1998 ?
Carolina 1995 7-9 1996 13-5 1997 7-9 1998 ?
Records include postseason games. 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).
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 seasons, and they can extend their record to five in 1998. Following is a chart comparing the receiving yards of the two terrific tandems:
Player 1994 1995 1996 1997
Cris Carter 1,256 1,371 1,163 1,069
Jake Reed 1,175 1,167 1,320 1,138
Keenan McCardell - - 1,129 1,164
Jimmy Smith - - 1,244 1,324