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Jaguars-Steelers thriller three years ago


Week four of the 2000 NFL season finds the Jaguars in Indianapolis to play the Colts on Monday Night Football. Here's what happened in past year's week-four games. They're ranked in the order of their prominence in Jaguars history.

Jaguars 30, Steelers 21 (9-22-97)

Monday Night Football made its debut in Jacksonville, and the Jaguars and Steelers gave ABC-TV one of the most memorable games and fantastic finishes in the history of the 27-year-old show.

In front of what was then an Alltel Stadium-record 73,016 fans, and millions who were glued to their TV sets across the country, quarterback Mark Brunell, defensive end Clyde Simmons and safety Chris Hudson provided intense dramatics.

Brunell made his triumphant return from what was first believed to be a season-ending knee injury. Hobbling on his still-sore knee, Brunell threw for 306 yards.

Simmons blocked a Norm Johnson field goal attempt on the final play of the game, and Hudson picked up the ball and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown that was nothing more than a "victory lap." As he ran down the Steelers sideline, coach Bill Cowher made a mock motion as though he was going to tackle Hudson.

All of these dramatics are indelibly etched in the minds of Jaguars fans, in a year in which the Jaguars-Steelers rivalry reached its peak. The Jaguars (3-0) took a two-game lead over the Steelers (1-2) in this week-four game, which followed a bye week for the AFC Central.

In a game that is loaded with memorable plays, one forgotten penalty played as big a part in the Jaguars' win as Simmons' kick-block. Leading 21-20 late in the game, the Steelers had stopped a Jaguars drive, but defensive end Nolan Harrison was penalized for a dead-ball personal foul that gave the Jaguars new life. The Jags went on to take a 23-21 lead on a 27-yard Mike Hollis field goal.

Patriots 28, Jaguars 25, OT (9-22-96)

Down 23-0 with one play left in the first half, Brunell's 51-yard "Hail Mary" pass for Jimmy Smith was tipped by two Patriots before falling into Smith's arms for a touchdown. To a degree, the "Cinderella" team the Jaguars would later become that season was born on that play.

The Jaguars would lose their first-ever overtime game, but not before Brunell threw for a team-record 432 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Andre Rison. Brunell's final "Hail Mary" almost won the game in regulation. Willie Jackson hauled in Brunell's 58-yard heave and stretched out the ball to within inches of the goal line.

In the overtime period, the Patriots got first possession and drove 49 yards in six plays, as Adam Vinatieri kicked a 40-yard game-winner.

The Jaguars (1-3) rushed for just 29 yards, and the Patriots had the ball 12-and-a-half minutes longer than the Jaguars.

It was a harbinger of things to come for the "Cinderella Jags." They would return to Foxboro Stadium later in the season; much later in the season.

Jaguars 17, Steelers 3 (10-3-99)

The Jaguars were clearly a team on the rise and the Steelers were a team in decline when these two teams met for the first time last season. However, the Jaguars had never won in Pittsburgh, and they knew they had to beat the Steelers to earn respect nationally as a serious Super Bowl contender, especially coming off a disheartening loss at home to Tennessee the previous week.

Defense starred for the Jaguars on this beautiful football afternoon in Three Rivers Stadium. Defensive end Tony Brackens made big play after big play, recording two-and-a-half sacks, forcing three fumbles, recovering one and stopping quarterback Kordell Stewart on a big fourth-down play.

Brunell was held to 85 yards passing, and the Jaguars won. Who would've ever thought that possible?

At 3-1, the Jaguars moved into a first-place tie with the Titans, who lost at San Francisco later in the afternoon. The Jaguars would remain in first place the remainder of the season.

Jaguars 27, Oilers 22 (9-27-98)

The Jaguars were playing the Oilers in the third different stadium in as many years. This time, Vanderbilt Stadium was the venue, and the Jaguars found themselves trailing, 19-7, late in the first half on a hot day on the Vanderbilt artificial turf.

Brunell completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell just before halftime, then rookie Fred Taylor put the Jags in the lead by spearheading an 80-yard drive to begin the second half. Taylor went 49 yards on one run, then one yard for a touchdown that gave the Jaguars a 21-19 lead.

Al DelGreco and Mike Hollis traded field goals, then Hollis added one for insurance and the defense took over, forcing Steve McNair out of the game and sacking his replacement, Dave Krieg, into submission.

The Jaguars took a 4-0 record and a one-game lead in the AFC Central into the bye week.

Packers 24, Jaguars 14 (9-24-95)

Jacksonville got a look at the hot-new quarterback in the NFL, Brett Favre, as Sunday Night Football came to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

Favre got the Packers out to a 17-0 lead in the third quarter, in what was something less than a spectacular performance. He would throw for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

If there is one memory of this game, it's that it was Tony Boselli's debut. Boselli, who injured his knee the first week of training camp and required surgery, took over at left tackle in the second quarter. He was working against veteran defensive end Sean Jones, who was held sackless.

Brunell made his second professional start at quarterback, as Steve Beuerlein continued to rehab a knee he injured two weeks previously.

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