EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—They won a game that allowed them to keep pace with the Colts. The Jaguars are 2-1 and looking at consecutive home games against Denver and Cincinnati. Their position and place allowed the Jaguars to return to Jacksonville Sunday night feeling pretty good about themselves. That's what their 26-20 overtime win over the Jets accomplished.
"These kinds of games do wonders for the confidence and the guys believing and understanding that it always doesn't go the way you want it to go but you have to find a way to scratch out a win," coach Jack Del Rio said following his team's win.
No one was calling it a rousing victory. No one was suggesting the Jaguars had played their best football. Some might say they didn't win as much as they avoided losing. Sometimes that's the challenge.
Their win over the Jets produced a sigh of relief. After all, this was a game that, had they lost, would've haunted them. Had they lost, they would've had to talk about a sack and a subsequent fumble return that accounted for one of the Jets' touchdowns, and a fumble return that allowed the Jets to send the game into overtime, just when it appeared the Jaguars were in the process of running out the clock in regulation.
Had they lost, this one would've qualified as a give-away. Consider the dark side of life; 1-2, two games behind the Colts and having lost a game to a potential AFC wild-card competitor. The dark side would've been real, real dark. That's why avoiding it was such a relief.
"With Indy in front of us, we needed to keep pace with them, and it was an AFC game," Del Rio agreed. "I don't think you can get too caught up in the big picture. You can be aware of it but you have to stay in the moment," Del Rio added.
The moment looks pretty good, doesn't it?
"It's great to get the win," quarterback Byron Leftwich said. "I never lost confidence in myself. Last week we just lost to a good team. The world didn't come to an end."
Some might've said the end of the world was at least in sight when Leftwich was sacked by John Abraham in the third quarter. At the time, the Jaguars led, 10-7, but Abraham jarred the ball loose and teammate James Reed picked it up and rambled 33 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.
The Jaguars returned the favor by recovering Justin Miller's fumble of a punt at the Jets 16-yard line late in the third quarter. Fred Taylor scored on a three-yard run and the Jaguars had a 20-14 lead.
"I scored a touchdown? I was thinking I couldn't do it anymore," Taylor joked.
Leftwich and Jimmy Smith were the heroes of this game, having connected on a game-winning, 36-yard touchdown pass with 8:55 to play in the overtime period. Taylor, however, got the iron man award for 37 rushing attempts, a Jaguars record. It left Taylor to smile with pride.
"We got a lot of football left. We want to go, at the worst, 3-1 in each quarter (of the schedule). That'll put us at 12-4," Taylor said.
"A very gritty performance by our football team," Del Rio said. "We ran the ball, played defense and gave ourselves a chance at the end. We hung in there and beat a good football team at their place.
"We wanted to give him the ball more and we did," Del Rio added of Taylor. "He's our workhorse. The more you give him the ball the better it is for us."
The win brightened the Jaguars' spirits following a 10-3 loss in Indianapolis that left the Jaguars with a bitter taste in their mouths.
"We won a good game. Did it take the sting out of the Indy loss? I don't think so. The only thing that's going to take the sting out of the Indy loss is beating Indy," Smith said.