Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Leftwich quiets wolves


Oh, how the wolves would've howled. The kid was on his way to the worst week of his life. He was two minutes and seven seconds from hell.

Think about it. What would it be like this week had Byron Leftwich not rallied the Jaguars to victory in Buffalo? How long would it have taken fans to begin booing this Sunday at the Jaguars' home-opener?

Instead, the wolves have been kept at bay because Leftwich produced one of the most heroic fourth-quarter touchdown drives in Jaguars history. He is the reason the Jaguars beat the Bills; the reason the Jaguars are 1-0, which marks the first time since 2001 this team has been able to make that claim.

Now, be honest, when they trotted onto the field with 2:07 to play and 80 yards away from a win, did you give them any chance of pulling it off? Come on, be honest.

Of course you didn't. You were already blaming the kid, weren't you? Cursing him for the two interceptions he threw and moaning about how the Jaguars wasted a great defensive performance on a young quarterback who isn't developing fast enough to suit your tastes. You wanted Mark Brunell back, didn't you? Be honest.

So, how do you feel now? Winning makes it all better, doesn't it?

That's how fragile life is in the game of professional football. This will be a very good week for Leftwich, but only after it appeared as though it would be the worst kind of seven days.

"I was proud of the way our offense functioned; Byron in particular. That's a loud crowd, now. We did not allow the crowd to affect us," coach Jack Del Rio said in praise that, realistically, could not have been made prior to the Jaguars' final, game-winning drive.

"He's doing all of the things he needs to do to be a good player for us. He has the explosive quality we all want, but right now he's managing the game well for us," Del Rio added.

The coach was taking liberties in celebration. Frankly, Leftwich was not all that good against the Bills. He turned the ball over twice. He was not on top of his game.

At crunch time, however, he showed up in the biggest of ways, and that's what you want from your starting quarterback. Leftwich completed a fourth-and-14 to Jimmy Smith, then a fourth-and-two to Troy Edwards, then, finally, a fourth-and-goal to Ernest Wilford for the game-winner on the final play of the game.

Yeah, the wolves were ready to howl, but now they must wait another week.

"That don't bother me," Leftwich said of the almost certain bashing he would've gotten from fans had he not rallied the Jaguars to the win. "I'm satisfied because we won the football game."

Doesn't bother him? Not likely. The kid's human; real human. He has a great heart. He's very social; shows a soft side you wouldn't expect from someone who's been the target of so much ill will. You expect that he'd already be showing signs of bitterness, but he hasn't. He remains positive in the face of adversity, and maybe that's the quality that makes him a crunch-time player.

"I felt like I was at Marshall. I knew we were going to score a touchdown," Leftwich said of that final drive on Sunday.

"Us going through so many games like that last year, we're better in those situations," he added.

The kid has a glaze over him. He's galvanized against pressure. There are quarterbacks who throw a better-looking ball, and there are certainly quarterbacks who are more mobile. But he has a rare star quality about him. He has a knack for making plays at the right time. It's what Jaguars personnel boss James Harris liked most about Leftwich when Harris made the kid the first draft choice of the Jack Del Rio era.

"It's do or die time," Del Rio said of the feeling along the Jaguars sideline as Leftwich led his offense onto the field with 2:07 to play and the Jaguars trailing by four points.

Oh, yeah, it was do or die time. It would've been a very bad week.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content