He said it. The media was sitting right there when Jack Del Rio called out his special teams on Wednesday of last week.
"I challenged our football team this week, special teams-wise, to be really good. I thought our special teams were special today. It started with Kassim (Osgood) holding his poise when they were giving him the business, a great example of a guy holding his poise. It's really easy to lash back and fight and get yourself ejected," Del Rio said proudly of his mid-week challenge to his special teams.
It was, yet, another example of a coach who is pushing all the right buttons having pushed another button that resulted in victory.>
If you don't mind, let's briefly acknowledge the Jaguars' 234 yards rushing and Maurice Jones-Drew's sixth consecutive 100-yard game. Good job, guys.
Congratulations, Rashad Jennings, on your first-ever 100-yard game, and way to go, David Garrard, on tying Mark Brunell for the franchise's single-season touchdown passes record, 20. Hey, you're the best.
OK, now, let's turn to the real stars of the Jaguars' 38-31 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday: Osgood, Montell Owens, Deji Karim and the best special teams units in the whole league. They are the stars of this game. They produced the turning point in this game and they delivered the knockout punch.
Let's start with Osgood, who the Raiders had clearly targeted to rough up and, hopefully, fluster into doing something stupid. They picked on him. They bullied him. They roughed him up.
Why Osgood? Because the Raiders knew from his days in San Diego that Osgood is a game-changer on special teams. Oh, how right they are.
With the Raiders leading 24-21 in the third quarter, Osgood made the turning point play of the game when he jarred the ball loose from Jacoby Ford on a kickoff return. Owens made the recovery and five plays later Garrard threw a touchdown pass that staked the Jaguars to a 28-24 lead.
It marked a 14-point surge in a three-minute period that erased a 24-14 Oakland lead and the feeling among the EverBank Field faithful that they were witnessing the end of the Jaguars' magical run. No way. The Jaguars had more magic left in them. How much more? We'll find out in Indianapolis next Sunday.
Jaguars special teams were sensational on Sunday. They had been sensational most of the season but, in recent weeks, they had lost some of their suddenness, especially Karim who appeared to have lost some of his burst on kickoff returns. Yeah.
After the defense allowed a seven-play, 83-yard Raiders drive that tied the game at 31-31 with 1:53 to play, which gave the faithful another one of those sinking feelings, Karim was in the spotlight on the ensuing kickoff. OK, rookie, let's see what you got.
"It was blocked the way we planned it. Montell sealed it and I hit it up in there," Karim said of a return that burst through a hole on the left side and dashed up the sideline to the Raiders' 30-yard line. Already, Josh Scobee was in field goal range and he would've been kicking downwind.
The combination of all of that raised the suspicion that Oakland coach Tom Cable may have ordered his team to allow Jones-Drew to race 30 yards untouched on the next play. Hmmm. Hey, it beats a walk-off field goal, huh?
Did they let Jones-Drew score, Del Rio was asked?
"I'm not sure. It's a thought. They may have. You'd have to ask them."
Cable said no. Coaches have been known to lie.
It is, however, no lie and no exaggeration to say the Jaguars' special teams were every bit the star of this game, as was Jones-Drew, Jennings, Garrard, etc. The coach pushed their button. The coach is pushing all the right buttons.
One more button to push, coach.