Mark Brunell dismissed the notion of a grudge game, but there was no denying the edge in Brunell's voice as he met with reporters today.
"It's more than a game," Brunell said in agreeing with a reporter's observation. "It's important for us to finish strong," Brunell added.
Several of Brunell's comments to reporters today seemed to have an edge to them, but Brunell made sure not to say anything that would begin a war of words.
"Samari's very good. Samari's been very fortunate. He's been in the right place at the right time," Brunell said of Titans cornerback Samari Rolle, who has tormented Brunell more than any other player in the league.
Seven of Rolle's 15 career interceptions have come at Brunell's expense, and as though that wasn't painful enough, Rolle caught Brunell in a helmet-to-helmet hit along the Jaguars sideline in the Oct. 13 meeting between the two teams, causing Brunell a concussion that forced him out of the game on the Jags' first possession. Even more costly was the lingering effects of that concussion, which caused Brunell to play his worst football of the season over the next three weeks.
It was a hit that changed the Titans' and the Jaguars' seasons. At 1-4, the Titans won that game and seven of the next eight. The Jaguars were 3-1 but have lost seven of their last 10.
Coughlin and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver complained bitterly to the NFL that Rolle's hit on Brunell was deserving of a suspension. The NFL declined, settling for a $7,500 fine on Rolle.
Brunell initially referred to Rolle's hit as "borderline" cheap, and it would seem he maintains that belief, but he attempted to avoid making any terse comments today.
"I don't have time to get ticked off. At the forefront of my mind is to win this football game," Brunell said. "Though I'm bigger than him, it wouldn't be smart to get kicked out of the game for getting in a fight with a (defensive back)," he added, jokingly.
A reporter asked Brunell if he thought the Jaguars should retaliate against Titans quarterback Steve McNair.
"Our job is to be aggressive and physical, but within the rules," Brunell said.
The quarterback added he had "no doubt" the Jaguars would be ready to play this Sunday. "We want to be 8-8," he added.
"I'd like to see a lot of fans coming out and being loud. Is that going to happen? That's a big question," he said.
The Jaguars have to sell about 7,000 tickets in the next 24 hours for the game not to be blacked out to the Jacksonville TV market. Clearly, the game is destined to become the fourth regular season game (Cleveland, Buffalo and Kansas City in 2001) in Jaguars history to be blacked out.
Coach Tom Coughlin was asked if he believes Sunday's attendance will have importance on his future as Jaguars coach. "I don't know about the future, but I know about the game. The crowd will be real important. I would expect the same help here at home at causing them problems," Coughlin said, referring to the crowd-noise problems the Jaguars experienced in Nashville on Oct. 13.
"This is a key game," he said, though his team has no realistic hope of making it into the postseason.
Coughlin and Brunell were each asked to comment about their futures with the Jaguars. Coughlin was specifically asked if he would agree to relinquish his general manager's title, if it meant retaining his position as head coach.
"I'm not going to talk about anything about my future until the season is over," Coughlin said.
When asked if he was aware of the rush of fan support he's received this week, he added: "Sure; absolutely. I'm not on an island."
Brunell continues to openly campaign to remain the Jaguars quarterback.
"I think this team has the potential to be very good in the future. I'm confident the future is bright for the Jaguars and I want to be a part of it. We're going to win one with this group of guys. Six wins? Yeah, we'd like to have more, but this team has the goods," Brunell said.