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Journeyman QB to the rescue against Giants


Steve Matthews knew only a handful of plays and formations, but he knew enough to lead the Jaguars to what was then the highest points production in their history, in a 40-13 win over the New York Giants in week two (Sept. 7) of the 1997 NFL season.

Matthews, had had been signed a week earlier after he was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, threw for 252 yards in leading the Jaguars to the win. It left the Jaguars at 2-0 and in first place in the AFC Central Division, with a bye week separating the Jags and a Monday Night Football showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Starting quarterback Mark Brunell had been out of action with a knee injury that was immediately feared to be season-ending. Brunell injured the knee in the second preseason game, and had been replaced by Rob Johnson, who led the Jags to a season-opening win in Baltimore. However, Johnson suffered a high-ankle sprain, forcing the Jags to cast their lot with Matthews, who had never previously played in a regular-season game.

Most impressively, Matthews led the Jags on an 82-yard touchdown drive when the Jags held a slim, 10-7 lead in the second quarter.

"To be 2-0 right now is an outstanding way to go into the bye week. Steve Matthews did an outstanding job. The running game came around. We played hard. We played our way through some troubled times at the beginning," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We asked for physical play and we got it." Sept. 19, 1999

The Jaguars capped one of the zaniest weeks in their history with a 22-20 win at expansion rival Carolina.

It was a week that saw the Jags and their families, which in some cases included pets, hole up in Alltel Stadium as Hurricane Floyd bore down on the Jacksonville coast line. Floyd didn't make landfall in the Jacksonville area, but the early days of the week were filled with tension.

Several Jags players and their families evacuated Jacksonville, and by the time coach Tom Coughlin had gathered his team back in Jacksonville, much of the preparation time for the Panthers game had been lost.

However, the Jags turned in a dominant performance that included 27 first downs, 414 total net yards and more than 16 minutes of time of possession advantage. Jaguars red-zone failures kept the Panthers in the game and, with 31 seconds to play, linebacker Lonnie Marts had to knock away a Steve Beuerlein pass for tight end Wesley Walls, to keep the game from going into overtime.

Sept. 13, 1998

A new-found running game led the Jaguars to victory for the second consecutive week, this time in a 21-16 verdict over the Kansas City Chiefs in the season's Jacksonville home-opener.

James Stewart broke the 100-yard mark for the second consecutive week, and the Jags' rushing attack was never more impressive than in the final minutes of the game, when it churned out two first downs to kill the final 3:39 of the contest.

Sept. 8, 1996

Then, they were the Houston Oilers, and they were every bit the Jags' nemesis at Alltel Stadium as they are now as the Tennessee Titans.

Following a rousing, season-opening win over the Steelers, the Jags fell at home to the Oilers, 34-27. It was a game that marked rookie running back Eddie George's debut in what would become one of the NFL's hot rivalries. George rushed for 143 yards in leading the Oilers to the win, but not before a furious Jags rally. A Marcus Robertson interception ended that rally, after the Jags had recovered an onside kick.

Sept. 10, 1995

Running back Randy Jordan scored the Jaguars' first-ever touchdown on a short pass from quarterback Steve Beuerlein that Jordan turned into a 71-yard play and the Jaguars' first-ever lead in a game, 7-3. However, the Bengals pass combination of quarterback Jeff Blake to Carl Pickens was too much for the Jags to overcome.

Mark Brunell replaced Beuerlein in the second quarter, after Beuerlein suffered a sprained knee. Brunell rallied the Jags late in the game, which would become a trademark of the Jags' inaugural season.

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