JACKSONVILLE – They were unforgettable times, and Pete Prisco remembers them well.
Among the notable things the longtime NFL analyst recalls about the late 1990s Jaguars is that when they first began emerging as a perennial playoff team during a remarkable 1996 season, no one expected it. Not even those covering the team.
"We thought they'd be better, but we didn't think they'd be that team," Prisco said on this week's O-Zone podcast.
Prisco, senior NFL writer for CBS Sports, covered the Jaguars for the Florida Times-Union from their 1993 inception until leaving the newspaper for CBS in 2000 – and he remains one of the nation's most knowledgeable voices on the Jaguars. He recently joined senior writer John Oehser for a two-part edition of the O-Zone podcast, the first of which can be heard HERE and the second of which can be heard HERE.
In Part II, Prisco and Oehser discussed in detail Jaguars and players from the 1990s. They also discussed covering perhaps most memorable game in franchise history – the Jaguars' 30-27 victory over the top-seeded Denver Broncos in an AFC Divisional Playoff following the 1996 season.
"That's considered one of the biggest upsets in the NFL – and it was from a point-spread standpoint, but they (the Jaguars) dominated them (the Broncos) after the first quarter … dominated them," Prisco said.
The Jaguars followed that 9-7 1996 season with three more playoff appearances in succession, including AFC Central titles in 1998 and 1999.
"They were the first expansion team to make the playoffs three of the first four years," Prisco said. "Think about that."
The era culminated with the 1999 team, which went 14-2 in the regular season before losing to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game in Jacksonville.
"That team had personality, too," Prisco said. "[Then-Jaguars Head Coach Tom] Coughlin let them show it a little more – and they played looser other than when they played the Tennessee Titans."
Prisco discussed, too, multiple Jaguars players from that era in detail, including quarterback Mark Brunell, wide receiver Jimmy Smith and running back Fred Taylor.
"One of the truly special runners the league has ever seen," Prisco said of Taylor. "When you think of it, he was 232 pounds and ran away from people. He was strong and tough and could catch. He lined up one day against [Hall-of-Fame defensive back] Ron Woodson and ran by him for a 78-yard touchdown reception. … Fred was remarkable."
For the entire second episode of the O-Zone podcast with Prisco, click HERE.