When Jack Del Rio saw the TV replay at home, he thought Byron Leftwich might've been over the line of scrimmage when he completed his seven-yard touchdown pass to Matt Jones. Monday morning, Del Rio got a look at the play on the coaches' tape and that changed Del Rio's mind.
"I looked at it on the coaches tape and it does not look like a violation," Del Rio told reporters at Monday afternoon's press conference.
The play in question occurred with 9:21 to play in the game. It resulted in a 28-21 lead for the Jaguars, who held off the Titans for a 31-28 victory.
On second-and-goal at the Titans seven-yard line, Leftwich scrambled forward out of the pocket and was near the line of scrimmage when he released his pass for Jones in the end zone. TV replay made it appear as though Leftwich was past the line of scrimmage when he released the pass but no flag was thrown and Titans coach Jeff Fisher didn't challenge the play.
Del Rio wouldn't elaborate on what the coaches' tape revealed but it would seem Leftwich's back foot is at issue. The rule requires that the ball and the passer's entire body must have passed the line of scrimmage before releasing the pass for it to have been an illegal forward pass. Leftwich's right foot appeared to be on or near the line of scrimmage when he released the pass, which may have left officials without the conclusive evidence they would've needed to overrule the touchdown.
Meanwhile, Titans players peppered reporters with postgame comments that called out the Jaguars for the January 1, regular-season finale between the two teams at Alltel Stadium.
"They might have gotten a little giggle today, but that's OK. We'll remember this," offensive tackle Brad Hopkins said.
"I hope to God that game is for them to go to the playoffs," linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "That is fine if they are enjoying it. They need to get their enjoyment right now because when we come back and, if I'm on this team, I am putting my foot to their throat and I am choking everybody out."
Del Rio limited his response to those comments to: "We'll see them in January. For now, we'll get ready for the Cardinals."
Some things never change. The Jaguars and the Titans can still add spice to a Sunday afternoon.
Del Rio quickly turned his attention forward on Monday to his team's next game, against the Cardinals in Tempe, AZ, this Sunday. At 7-3, the Jaguars can take another step toward a playoff berth with a win over 3-7 Arizona.
"Indy is making it very difficult to catch them. We're going to do the best we can to win all we can. That's the big picture and I don't shy away from the big picture but I turn quickly to the task at hand," Del Rio said of what remains of his team's season.
They are six games that include one team with a 10-0 record and five teams with a combined 12-38 record. It's a schedule that makes the Jaguars a favorite to earn one of the AFC's two wild cards, but it's also costing the team a degree of respect in the national media.
Del Rio referred to the team's rugged opening six games of the season. "We didn't get any bonus points from any of those games," he said. "We want to be a better football team down the stretch."
Since training camp began, making the playoffs has been the Jaguars' goal. "There's no reason not to continue to expect that," Del Rio said.
Quarterback Byron Leftwich is driving the Jaguars toward realizing that expectation. Leftwich's 89.1 passer rating is ninth-best in the league and he completed three touchdown passes in a game for the first time in his career in Nashville on Sunday.
"We'd like to start better and play with a lead, but what I did like is when things didn't go our way our team and our quarterback played with poise. The poise I'm referring to with Byron is the decision-making; keeping his eyes downfield and not getting flustered," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars started the game by failing to convert on five consecutive third-down tries, then converting 10 of their next 12.
"One of the differences between our team this year from last year is we're converting third downs and getting into the end zone when we're in the red zone," Del Rio said.
Special teams coverage star Nick Sorensen underwent surgery on Monday for the fractured ankle he sustained in Sunday's game. Del Rio singled out rookie Scott Starks for three coverage tackles.