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Last chance for recovery?


Through their four-game losing streak, each week has offered a new chance for recovery. This week, the opportunity is accompanied by desperation. Silently, the Jaguars know any hope they have of clawing their way back into the playoff picture rests with a win in Tennessee.

Say hello to November. Do you hear the alarm? Do it now or forget about it.

October has been very unkind to the Jaguars. Maybe it began on the final day of September, when the Jaguars had an opportunity to push their record to 3-0. Then, everything seemed rosy, but their upset loss to Cleveland and Gerard Warren's vicious hit on Mark Brunell signaled the start of bad times.

A week later, the Jaguars had a chance to right the ship in Seattle, but they returned to Jacksonville 2-2 and having compromised their fast start to the season.

Winless Buffalo gave the listing Jaguars a chance to get back over .500, but they seemed to hit rock bottom in a loss to the Bills.

Most recently, they blew a 17-6 fourth-quarter lead in Baltimore.

So it is that the 2-4 Jaguars cling to hope of a win in Tennessee that would give the Jags a chance to get back to .500 by the midway point in the season.

"There's an awful lot of football left," coach Tom Coughlin reminded reporters.

"I'm not worried about getting to 4-4. I'm worried about getting to 3-4. Let me get to 3-4 first, then ask me that question," Keenan McCardell said.

The Jaguars' hopes for a win in Tennessee are bolstered by the Titans' demise, which is very similar to what the Jaguars experienced last season. Some think the Titans are experiencing a hangover from their home playoff loss to the Ravens last January, much as the Jaguars failed to recover from their home loss to the Titans in the previous season's AFC title game.

"It means there are two teams that are devastated by injuries right now and are in a funk," McCardell said of the flip-flop nature of the AFC Central Division standings, which are nearly a complete reversal of the division order in 1999.

"Just talk to me at the end of the year. Then we'll see if they're still flip-flopped. When you win in November and December, that's when it counts. It's the start of November, so we better go at it. I've been in this 11 years. Whoever's playing well late in the season tends to be one of the teams playing late in the season, too," McCardell said, referring to the playoffs.

McCardell clings to hope the Jaguars can do what they did in 1996, when they came out of nowhere late in the season to win seven straight and reach the AFC title game. Then, the Jaguars' low point was 4-7. Most believe they can't sink lower than they are right now and have any chance of making the playoffs.

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