PHILADELPHIA—The Jaguars got an assist from someone to whom Jack Del Rio referred as "Mr. Eagle." Maybe the Jaguars should give him a game ball.
"Guys are real happy right now and they should be. They felt challenged by comments that were made this week and they responded," Del Rio said of his team following the Jaguars' 13-6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at "The Linc."
What comments, Del Rio was asked?
"I was talking about (comments) by 'Mr. Eagle.' They're not the type of comments I take lightly," Del Rio said.
"Mr. Eagle" is former Eagles quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who criticized the Jaguars for being "mentally weak" following the Jaguars' loss in Houston the previous week. Jaworski's comments stung the Jaguars and Del Rio used them to motivate his team.
"As a coach, you'll latch onto anything you can to motivate your guys. Late in the week, it was a nice little thing about the way somebody saw them," Del Rio said.
Whether it was Jaworski's remark or the Jaguars' own embarrassment for the way they played in Houston, the result on Sunday was stunning. They held the number one offense in the league to two harmless field goals. The Jaguars defense was so dominant that it held the league's second-ranked passer to 161 yards and a meager 65.9 rating. Donovan McNabb began the day with 500 yards passing more than Peyton Manning and a thousand yards more than Tom Brady but, at halftime, McNabb was sitting on a big, fat 48.
At 3-3, the Jaguars were at a crossroads they didn't want to admit. Maybe Del Rio was even tipping his hand when he told reporters after the game: "I told a couple of coaches on the other side, regardless of how this game goes – I wasn't conceding anything – you have a heckuva football team."
This was crunch time. The Jaguars were playing to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since 2003. They were playing to stay alive in the playoff race. That's right, it was that simple. They were playing to remain a playoff contender.
"From a perception outside our room, maybe so," Del Rio confessed. "From our end, we talked about 2006 being a book that's being written. Today, chapter seven was written. We got a win in Philly. People are so quick to want to write the whole book."
The season that is the Jaguars' "book" now turns to a three-game home stretch of schedule. If the Jaguars are going to make a move on a second consecutive playoff berth, they have to do it now. Sunday's win in Philly set the stage.
David Garrard's mistake-free performance, a dominant running game and stifling defense provided the ingredients for the win. Garrard replaced injured Byron Leftwich at quarterback and Garrard won his fifth game in his last six starts. He did so by completing 10 of 17 passes for 87 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 72.4 passer rating.
Fred Taylor went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the second time in the last three games, gaining 103 yards on just 15 carries. Maurice Jones-Drew chipped in with 77 yards and the one-two punch of Taylor and Jones-Drew allowed the Jaguars to hold the ball nearly 14 minutes longer than the Eagles.
"Whenever you run the ball the way we did today, it's going to make it easy on the quarterback," said Garrard, who contributed 36 scramble yards to the Jaguars' rushing total.
"David did a nice job," Del Rio said. "He made plays with his feet. He showed poise. I thought he handled himself very well."
Del Rio and his staff designed a conservative game plan that fit the weather conditions.
"We were playing not the starting quarterback. The winds were gusting. We knew we had to run the ball," Del Rio said.
"To be able to move like I can definitely gave us an edge. It was a good day for mobile quarterbacks," Garrard said.
His offensive line allowed him to be sacked only once. McNabb was sacked four times.
"The defense played great. They were able to control the front," said Marcus Stroud, who missed his third consecutive game with an ankle injury. "We just had a mishap last week (in Houston). That's not the norm for us. What we did this week is the type of play we're used to."
"We really, really deserve this," Taylor said.