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Taylor leaves no doubt


In all of his 7,981 career rushing yards, there may be no yards more important or personally satisfying to Fred Taylor than the 132 he gained against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night.

There were whispers that he had lost it. On the heels of a 14-yard game against the Broncos that was the worst full-game performance of his career, Taylor's legion of doubters were growing.

These weren't people reveling in Taylor's demise. These were people who were afraid of what they were seeing. They were preparing themselves for the worst.

What they saw the previous week was a once-great running back made to look timid. There was no explosion; no burst. At times, he appeared to be able to do little more than paw at the ground with the leg that underwent major knee surgery last winter.

Were we seeing the end of Taylor, the greatest running back in Jaguars history?

"I still got it," Taylor answered following his stunning performance against the Bengals. "I'm going to be here for a long time. I'm going to stop when I'm ready to stop."

All of a sudden, the legion of doubters have reason to become believers again. Did you see him cutting back against the grain? Yeah, that's the old Fred Taylor, the one who would cut back on a pack of nuns if they showed the slightest signs of over-running the play.

Taylor hates that cutback stuff. So what? It's what he does best and it's what Jaguars fans most needed to see. They needed to know he could still do it. They needed to know the surgery hadn't left him with a knee full of mush.

Maybe the Bengals watched the tape of the Broncos game and thought to themselves, yeah, he's done. Maybe that's why they didn't respect the old man's legendary cutback skills.

"The cutbacks are something God blessed Fred with the ability to do," Jack Del Rio said. "We had to go in with determination to run the ball."

Taylor was especially determined. He's a proud player and he is not about 14 yards rushing. The Taylor we had seen the previous week was an impostor.

"I was motivated to help them out," Taylor said of his maligned offensive line. "I ran a little harder, made some decent cuts and things happened. The offensive line deserves all of the credit.

"We knew they had some guys at linebacker who could get undisciplined at times," he added. "You take what the defensive gives you. Early on in my career they labeled me a cutback runner. I'm not. I call it vision."

Yeah, he always had those great eyes. In any picture, his eyes were always wide open, surveying the field as though he was looking down on the play. But what about the legs? Could the legs still survey the field?

"You have to be a running back to understand how the position is played. If you get a hole, you're going to look like a star. It's all about opportunities. If I hadn't gotten big holes in my career, I wouldn't be here today," Taylor said.

"That just shows Fred still got it," offensive tackle Maurice Williams said of Taylor's performance. "He can break it at any time."

It's how we had always described him, as a guy who could break it at any time. It was that way again on Sunday night.

Fred's back.

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