They are a win away from their first playoff berth in six years. They are two wins away from the second-best record in franchise history. These are clearly the best of times in a long time for the Jaguars, but there were no pats on the back following their 10-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Jack Del Rio knew it would be that way. He strode into the room with a playful mood that sort of beat reporters to the punch. He knew the question that was on everyone's lips: Jack, how could you only beat the 49ers by a point and have to rally to do it?
"Big favorite doesn't guarantee that you'll win big," Del Rio said.
Yeah, that's the way it is in the NFL. Parity, right? But parity hasn't really applied to the 49ers, who had surrendered 381 points heading into Sunday's game. In this case, the question was fair and Del Rio knew he had to address the matter of an offense that is struggling to score points and struggling to do so at an alarming rate with the playoffs just ahead.
"It was not a thing of beauty but it was (win) number 10, which is a thing of beauty. We gutted it through. It was an accomplishment," Del Rio said. "I told the team you don't have to apologize for winning."
There will be no apologies. Pro football isn't that kind of business. It didn't help, however, that San Diego waltzed into Indianapolis and hung an "L" on the previously unbeatable Colts, and it's possible the Chargers may not qualify for the playoffs.
We all know what that'll produce in the way of media commentary. Del Rio knows, too. A high-quality team, maybe two, won't make it into the AFC playoffs this year, and that could cause eyes to turn suspiciously in the Jaguars' direction. It has become the curse of the easy schedule, and if anything is putting pressure on the Jaguars to perform, it's the need to defend the quality of their record. That, of course, is for the playoffs.
Until then, the Jaguars can only continue their pursuit of improvement. They need to upgrade their offense. They need to score points. It's not as though they're playing against the "Seven Blocks of Granite." The Jaguars need to get on a roll, which they couldn't do against the 49ers.
The Jaguars gained 336 yards, 21 first downs, rushed for 134 and held the ball more than 11 minutes longer than the 49ers. The Jaguars couldn't, however, score more than one touchdown.
"Third-and-one, fourth-and-one early in the game, we have to be able to get a yard; the two-minute drill at the end of the half, not very good; end of the game, not very good," Del Rio said.
"We're going to have to throw it better than that," he added of the passing game, which produced 216 yards and didn't turn the ball over, but also didn't score any points. "It's not all bad, but if we function at a higher level we're going to be a whole lot better off and we're going to need to against those top teams (in the playoffs)," Del Rio added.
You bet it's not all bad. The record, 10-4, is great. The coach is delivering on what he said last spring when, on draft day, he walked into the same interview room and told some of the same reporters it was time for the Jaguars to "go to the next level," which is footballese for "make the playoffs."
The Jaguars are going to make the playoffs. Bank on it. Hold me to it. But is a one-point win at home against the 49ers good enough?
Don't apologize, just score, baby, score.