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Rainy days and Mondays hurt when you lose

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The following is Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell's diary for Sept. 6-11, 2000.

Wednesday, September 6, 2000

This was a big game for us, but it was only week two and we didn't want to throw all of our emotions into the pre-game hype. We were going to let the media and everybody else hype it up. We just needed to stay focused on preparing for Baltimore and not try to put pressure on ourselves. Let all the pressure fall on Baltimore. On Wednesday, we had a rainy day. It was sloppy here in Jacksonville. Thunderstorms, lighting, so we ended up having to go inside the coliseum to practice, which was pretty good for us. It was bad for us not to be outside, but it turned out good because we got to the mental aspect of the game a lot more. We got to think about the game; think about our assignments and see the defensive formations and coverages up close. We had the chance to run some extra plays inside, so we could really see their coverages. We thought it was going to turn about bad, but actually it turned out pretty good.

Thursday, September 7, 2000

We need to get outside! We came into meetings and we were, like, it's still raining. Are we going to be able to go outside? We went through meetings and they went well. We had the chance to see more and more of Baltimore on tape and when we came out for practice it was raining. We were like, hey, man, we need to get out here anyway, regardless of what the weather's like. It was raining, no lighting, so it was a chance for us to get outside. We went outside and went through practice very well. There were distractions with the rain, but it made me concentrate more. It made me concentrate on the little things, with the weather being so bad. For example, making sure I'm stepping right so I don't slip and fall. We said, you never know, it could be raining in Baltimore on Sunday. We went and practiced in the rain and we had a great, great Thursday. I think people felt confident after Thursday's practice and went home and relaxed. I felt pretty good about Thursday's practice. I thought everybody was pretty focused and I thought we were going to make some plays. We were getting ready and the week was building up and we were just easing into Sunday. On Thursday night, I relaxed and stayed home with my little girl. We were actually practicing writing letters. She usually likes to go out and ride her bike. We stayed in and played some board games, watched a couple of movies and got ready for Friday's practice. The week started to go by so fast. I was sitting on the bed and I told my wife, it's almost week three.

Friday, September 8, 2000

On Friday, you know you have to get ready for a good, sharp, crisp, practice. We went through Friday's practice really good. We felt real good about ourselves. We were, like, we have one more road game before we come home. We were chanting, let's take care of our business on the road and when we come back, let's come back 2-0 and ready for the excitement of our home crowd. Friday was a short day. I had a chance to go home early and prepare for the road trip. You know you're going to a hotel, so you have to go home and pack. You have to go home and get a suit ready for the road and all of the stuff that's not usual for a home game. It's a part of our business. It's a road game and you know you're going there for business. Pack your bag and get ready to go on Saturday morning. I pick out what suit I'll wear according to the city, but it's a little more to it than that. When you dress well, you play well, and when you feel good, you play good.

Saturday, September 9, 2000

You realize the game is tomorrow and it's a big divisional game. The media has stated that these guys are the new team of the AFC Central. They're so good, they're defense is so good and it gets at you. We're looking at each other, like, they haven't stopped us yet, so what's the big deal? It gets you a little fired up on Saturday, but you have to try and hold that emotion in until gameday. On Saturday, I try to take in a lot of water to keep myself hydrated, because you can get dehydrated on the plane ride. When you get to the hotel, it's all business. I go to the hotel and it's, like, this is a big game, and we're going to show them what a big game is all about. My wife came for the game and she stayed with some friends. I didn't even see her. I was just so focused. I stayed in the hotel and ordered room service. She called me a couple of times and asked if I wanted to have dinner and I said, no, I have something on my mind. She realizes that I get in a zone and what's good about that is she leaves me alone. I was just in the room thinking about making a play here, making a play there, making a big play to help us win. Those things come in handy, especially on a Saturday, and it gets you focused. I just sit in my room and visualize what's going to happen on Sunday.

Sunday, September 10, 2000

When I woke up on Sunday, I was feeling great. We've always played well, I've always played well against these guys, and it was, like, let's go. The electricity was going through me even before I went to the pregame meal. I ate the pregame meal, had my cup of coffee and came back to the room. I got dressed and I had a little gitty-up in my step going down to the bus. I had a little bounce, bouncing to the tunes. On the bus I was thinking it's time to make something happen. Once I got off the bus, I could feel the electricity from their fans and it got me even more pumped up. Hearing them talking trash made me feel, like, we have something for y'all. The best thing about being on the road is when you can silence the crowd, and we silenced the crowd early. It was quiet. It made me feel good and that's what you have to do on the road. You have to go in and cut the jugular vein on the crowd; just put your finger to your lips and say quiet. We came out fired up and ready to play. You have to give them credit; they turned it around in the second half. The crowd got back into it, they made a couple of plays here and there, but we made our plays and when we got back on top they were quiet. However, they made a play at the end of the game and it was just like the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. the Baltimore Ravens of old. A game that came down to the wire. I want to score 100 points! That's just my nature. That's just being an offensive-minded person. I've always been around a lot of offensive-minded coaches and they want to put as many points on you as quickly as possible. My attitude at halftime was we need more points. That's what I was trying to stress to our offense. We need more than 23 points. Our defense is playing great right now, but our job is to score every time we touch the ball. If they have to play catch-up, then they can't catch-up. That's a hard thing to do in the NFL. We ended up scoring 36 points, which is a lot of points, but it wasn't enough. That's the thing about the NFL, you might think 36 points is a lot, but it just wasn't enough this week. We have to come back and put up a lot more points. Our goal on offense is to lead the league in offense and scoring.

Monday, September 11, 2000

It was gut-wrenching. It still hurts. People were quiet and didn't want to say much. That's part of the NFL. That's why we'll play next Sunday. I think this one is going to hurt a little bit until Sunday. It's supposed to hurt. If you love the game the way you're supposed to love the game, it hurts. The good thing about it is you get to play on Sunday and take all of your hurting out on somebody else. This thing is about what have you done for me lately. Lately will be Sunday. We have a good team coming in Cincinnati. They lost their home opener, but they have a lot of young talent that can play. We have to take advantage of that and we're playing in front of our home crowd. It's our home-opener and it's going to be a lot of electricity here. The fans are going to have the place jumping and I want to come out jumping for the home-opener ready to play.

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