Jack Del Rio isn't quitting on the idea of making a playoff run.
"We still have an opportunity to make our mark on this season," Del Rio told reporters at Monday afternoon's press conference.
Fifteen hours earlier, Josh Scobee's 60-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game slid off to the right and left the Pittsburgh Steelers with a dramatic 17-16 win at Alltel Stadium, in a game that is being hailed today as the finest of the NFL season. Del Rio, however, was not comforted.
"It was a tough loss. We went in expecting to win. We're not looking to take any moral victories. I've said many times that good football teams find ways to win close games. It comes down to making plays. We have to coach a little better, we have to play a little better. We've found out one thing about the Jaguars: We're going to be in every game," Del Rio offered in his opening remarks to reporters.
Immediately following Sunday night's game, Del Rio was visibly shaken by the defeat. Several players said it was the toughest defeat they had ever experienced. Clearly, it was a game the Jaguars had targeted.
"You could feel it, you could taste it, smell it. It was a big-game atmosphere. We're going to have lots of big games here," Del Rio said.
Del Rio mixed the present with the future in his remarks on Monday. He acknowledged the team's continued failures in the red zone and in short yardage, but he also turned an eye toward what the team is building for the future.
"We believe we're building something here. There's a foundation being set; a physical mentality. Last night you saw a classic confrontation between two young quarterbacks who are going to be around for a long time," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars are dead-last in the league in red-zone efficiency; 14 touchdowns in 35 possessions, 40 percent. A one-for-five batting average against the Steelers was the difference in the game.
"We're down there a bunch and that's a good thing, but not being able to get points is becoming too much to overcome," Del Rio said. "Another area that's become an Achilles heel is third-and-short. Those two areas we have to focus on getting better."
If the Jaguars can focus quickly they may even have a chance to get back into the wild-card chase. They trail Baltimore and Denver by a game for the second wild-card spot, and Baltimore has a stiff finishing schedule while the Jaguars would hold a head-to-head tie-breaker advantage over Denver.
Having a chance at a wild-card berth would probably require the Jaguars to win all four of their remaining games and Del Rio said, "You can't win-out unless you win the next one. Who knows how it's ultimately going to play out? I still think it's a good thing to be in the hunt."
Del Rio was quizzed on a couple of popular topics: the play-calling and claims Byron Leftwich has not been granted the ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
"As a staff we put together a plan we think will give us the best chance to win," Del Rio said of play-calling criticism.
"Byron has some opportunity," the coach added of Leftwich's freedom to audible. "He doesn't have carte blanche. We've built on that as he has become a more experienced player. As we grow as an offense, he will continue to have that ability."