The Jaguars left the practice field today intact for Monday night's showdown in Indianapolis. Fred Taylor's knee is ready, Steve Lindsey's psyche is ready, and Jimmy Smith wants to foil the NFL's attempt to include the Jaguars in the league's concept of parity.
"We don't feel we get national respect down here. We won 15 games last year and we don't even have a home Monday night game," Smith said.
"They want parity in the league and they want to make it hard on us to get a Monday night win. They don't want us to be 6-0," Smith added.
The Jaguars are 5-0 in Monday Night Football games. Their first one was on Sept. 22, 1997, in a thrilling 30-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Today, of course, is the three-year anniversary of that game.
Monday night in Indianapolis is expected to be a thriller; an offensive shootout between two teams with star offensive trios. For the Jaguars, it's Smith, Taylor and Mark Brunell. The Colts will counter with wide receiver Marvin Harrison, running back Edgerrin James and quarterback Peyton Manning.
"Our first goal is to win the game, then, after the game, the trios will be looking at the stats to see who out-performed each other," Smith said.
What about a fourth offensive star? What about Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who is second in the league to Smith in pass receptions, and fourth in the league to Smith and St. Louis' Isaac Bruce and Torey Holt in yards receiving.
Has McCardell been overlooked?
"Do I care?" McCardell said. "No, I don't care. It's all about who makes plays. I'm going to make a couple Monday night. I'll just quietly keep making my plays."
Both trios, and McCardell, are expected to make their usual impacts. If they merely offset each other, the game could hinge on the right leg of kicker Lindsey, who is replacing Mike Hollis as Hollis recovers from back surgery he underwent this past Monday.
"I don't think about it being a big game. If I do, it's added pressure. My whole thought process is to kick field goals in the game like I do in practice," Lindsey said.
Not the way he kicked in practice today. "I was horrible," he said. "Wednesday and Thursday, I was awesome, and after practice today I kicked six, all done the middle. With team today I went too fast. My mental thought is to stay the same speed," Lindsey added.
He can fool himself into believing this is not a big game, but everyone else knows differently.
"It's a very big game for us, mainly because it's against a playoff-caliber team on a national stage," Smith said.