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Leftwich seeking OK


The Jaguars went back to basics, their special teams went to sleep, and quarterback Byron Leftwich went back to Birmingham, Ala., to seek medical clearance to play in Sunday's game against the Titans.

"We expect to get new news on Byron. He's trying like crazy to get cleared for (Sunday's game)," coach Jack Del Rio told reporters at Monday's press conference. Leftwich was being re-examined on Monday by renowned knee surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Leftwich was on the sideline Sunday with a knee injury that resulted in David Garrard getting his second pro start. Garrard responded by directing the Jaguars impressively to a 17-0 lead through three quarters of Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, but Garrard had to summon his reserves for a game-winning touchdown drive in overtime.

"I'm very proud to have a team that has found a way to capitalize and win games. I think it shows some character and I'm proud of that," Del Rio said.

Finding a way to beat the Lions meant having to rally from a fourth-quarter collapse that was the result of Lions punt-returner Eddie Drummond taking two Chris Hanson punts back for touchdowns. The second touchdown, an 83-yarder with 46 seconds to play in regulation, followed a punt Hanson mistakenly directed toward the center of the field.

Del Rio told reporters the punt was supposed to be directed toward the left sideline. When asked why the Jaguars just didn't punt the ball out of bounds, Del Rio said, "Good question. It looks like it would've been a real good idea."

As a result of Drummond's 257 yards in returns, Del Rio made no game-ball awards to special teams. "There is no game ball for special teams this week. We won on offense and defense. We did not win on special teams. It's a team game. We found a way to pick them up," he said.

The Jaguars offensive line got the game ball for offense, while defensive tackle John Henderson and cornerback Rashean Mathis were the game-ball winners for defense.

"Probably his best game since we've been here," Del Rio said of Henderson, who recorded three tackles, a sack and two passes-defensed. When it was suggested Mathis may have also played his best game, Del Rio agreed.

Mathis had three tackles, an interception and five passes-defensed. Instead of playing in the slot as the Jaguars' "nickel back," he was allowed to stay at left corner and Kiwaukee Thomas was used as the team's "nickel back."

The offensive line was singled out for having produced the Jaguars' best rushing performance of the season, 239 net rushing yards on 50 rushing attempts.

"We set out to play more physical on both sides of the ball and I think we did that," Del Rio said. "Defensively, I like our aggressive nature all day; more of the mentality I'm looking for."

The Jaguars held Joey Harrington to 121 yards passing and an embarrassingly-low 32.5 passer rating. It was a major accomplishment by a Jaguars pass-defense that had been torched throughout October.

"There had been questions about passer ratings and they were appropriate," Del Rio said of his pass-defense. "Running the football and being more competitive in our pass-defense; those two areas showed up."

Del Rio also singled out the play of Tommy Hendricks, who replaced Daryl Smith (knee injury) at outside linebacker. "I'm pleased that we have that kind of quality depth that we can call on at this time of the season," Del Rio said.

Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee sprain, but all indications are the injury is minor and it's possible he'll not miss a game. "They don't feel like there's any need for him to get an MRI," Del Rio said.

One of the big issues from Sunday's game was the play-calling. Despite Del Rio's pronouncement last week of an emphasis on the running game, the Jaguars turned to the pass on a third-and-goal from the one-yard line near the end of the first half, and to the pass again on multiple occasions late in the game when the Jaguars were attempting to run out the clock.

Del Rio was asked if his run-the-ball philosophy agrees with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's "west coast" personality.

"We're on the same page. We put out a product on Sunday. Is it perfect? No. But I like the way we go about our business and we'll continue to work on it," Del Rio answered.

Leftwich immediately becomes the major story for this week. Information on his status for Sunday's game against the Titans will be provided on Wednesday when the Jaguars issue their official injury report.

"This guy is a true warrior. This guy wants to play. What we have to guard against is him coming back before he should," Del Rio said of Leftwich. "Until I get that green light (from the doctors), he's not going to return."

What grade did Del Rio assign Garrard for his performance against the Lions?

"I give him an 'A.' I give the team an 'A.' We won. It's a bottom line business," Del Rio said.

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