The Jaguars left Sunday's 28-25 loss to the Colts with a definite edge. It's the kind of attitude that can renew a team's spirit for the stretch run and beyond, but only if, of course, they fix the failures in a secondary that allowed 288 yards, four touchdowns and an uncommon third-down conversion percentage.
What's the edge? It's a feeling of regret and anger and the combination was written on the face of the Jaguars' head coach, Jack Del Rio.
In his postgame interview, Del Rio's mood was as obvious as the set of his jaw. You could see how deeply the loss hurt. You could see that he was angry. As much as he tried to camouflage it in his remarks, it was obvious.
"Good ballgame," Del Rio said in a tense kind of staccato that let reporters know this was not a good time to spar with the coach.
"It seemed like every questionable situation went their way," he said, and it was obvious he was talking about officials' calls that seemed to favor the Colts at every turn.
What about the officiating, coach?
"Guys in my position get fined for saying what they think. I'll let you say what you saw," Del Rio said.
All right, we saw a field day for replay review, and every review seemed to go Colts coach Tony Dungy's way. Dungy used so many "challenges" that he was unable to use one he certainly would've won; he only had one "challenge" left and it was too early in the first half to use it. So, you could say, that's a "challenge" the Jaguars won. It was the only one.
Del Rio wanted to "challenge" the spot of the ball following a Dennis Northcutt catch at the goal line. At first, it appeared Northcutt may have broken the plane. By the time the Colts got done pinballing Northcutt, however, the ball had been moved back to the three. With the "challenge" flag in his hand, Del Rio was told to stick it back in his pocket because it was a judgment call and replay wouldn't change the judgment. Hmmm.
It was one of those days for Del Rio and the Jaguars. It was the kind of day when you just can't win for losing.
The RCA Dome is a tough place to play. It may be the toughest place in the league to play. The noise is deafening and the Jaguars' first play of the game was, appropriately, a false start. They accumulated three of them very quickly.
Crowd noise, huh? No, it was defensive line noise.
"I think John Teerlinck does a great job with his guys," Del Rio said of the Colts defensive line coach, for whom Del Rio played while with the Vikings. "He does a great job of getting his guys to bark. We tried to talk to the officials about it. The crowd noise was excellent," Del Rio added, no doubt flippantly.
"They were barking a little bit and giving false movements. I felt like I was hearing a whistle at times. I almost pulled up a couple of times," quarterback David Garrard said.
Del Rio's mood tightened with each question. His edge was sharp.
"We've been a very infrequently penalized team this year. It seemed every time there was a chance for a penalty to go against us, it did," Del Rio added.
None of this will be noted, of course, when the Colts are awarded another AFC South Division trophy, their fifth in a row. They remain the king of the division and the Jaguars remain their pursuer.
It is a pursuit, however, that could continue into the postseason and that's where the edge the Jaguars took home with them Sunday night could be useful. The mood with which they returned to Jacksonville will help them focus on the task at hand, which is to win and clinch a playoff berth that would allow them to take their edge back to Indianapolis in January for another chance to overtake the Colts.