DETROIT—The drama is set for a game that could define the Jaguars' season.
Remember the Titans? The team that dealt the Jaguars a season-opening loss? Well, they're still undefeated and they're coming to Jacksonville to face a 4-5 Jaguars team whose season will be on the line.
The Jaguars moved their record back to within a game of .500 with a 38-14 thrashing of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday. A win over the Titans would send a message throughout the league that the Jaguars are back and their playoff hopes are still alive.
"Good, solid effort. The team practiced well all week. We re-dedicated ourselves this week to things we believe in," coach Jack Del Rio said, obviously referring to events that included disciplinary measures that drew national attention.
"I like the way we were able to run the ball and give David (Garrard) time to do some things," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars ran the ball for 157 yards and Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for 150 yards, only the third time this season the two have combined for 100 yards rushing or more. Taylor's 80 yards rushing sent him over 11,000 yards rushing in his career.
"It's an honor. I've been scrapping my whole career. It's a tribute to my persistence, my will, my determination. It feels good to have done it in Barry's house. This is a good place," Taylor said.
Taylor was referring to all-time great running back Barry Sanders, who was at Ford Field to help the Lions celebrate presentation of their all-time team.
Jones-Drew chipped in with 70 yards rushing and the return of the Fred and Mo show was reminiscent of the Jaguars offense's late-season charge a year ago. Can they do it again?
"We all re-committed ourselves. Regardless of what people think, we're going to stick together and fight," Jones-Drew said.
There was little fight in the Lions, 0-9 and possibly headed to becoming the first team in NFL history to finish 0-16. Last season gave us the first-ever 16-0 team, and this year may give us the first-ever 0-16. Amazing!
"I thought we took a step forward. We gave ourselves some room to run. We basically shut it down after three quarters," said Del Rio, who notched the 50th win of his head coaching career.
The only tense moment in the game occurred when the Lions took a 7-3 lead following an 81-yard drive that was highlighted by a 51-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper to wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Jacksonville countered immediately with an 80-yard touchdown drive, pushed its lead to 17-7, then delivered the game-clincher with a kick-block by Gerald Sensabaugh and a subsequent 58-yard touchdown drive just before halftime.
"We really took control of the game right there," Del Rio said.
Can the Jaguars reclaim their playoff hopes?
"Yes, we can," Rashean Mathis said. "There's a great chance. The best team in football is coming to our home. We haven't played well at home so far so this would be a good time to do so."
"It was a good week. We had a very good week. Maybe it wasn't reported that way," Del Rio said. "We'll turn our attention to when the Titans come in."