They were in a similar position a year ago; not in first place in the division, but in the lead for a playoff spot. Then, their record was 7-5. Now, it's 6-4, which is good for a share of the AFC South lead with the Colts.
Are the Jaguars better-equipped to deal with success in this year's stretch drive?
"We're getting ready to find out. We start with an opportunity in New York. We're going to have to be better," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio told reporters on Monday, 24 hours after his team scored an improbable, come-from-behind, 24-20 win over the Cleveland Browns.
It was improbable because the Jaguars had to overcome six turnovers and a minus-five turnover differential to win the game.
"You can't count on playing those odds very often," Del Rio said in beginning his press conference.
He credited the win to his defense's ability to "hold the line" on four consecutive series in the second half, after the Jaguars offense had turned the ball and a short field over to the Browns.
"They gave us a chance by not allowing them to avalanche us right there. A team is capable of wilting in that situation," Del Rio said.
Defensive tackles Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu combined for a dominant performance inside, holding running back Peyton Hillis to 48 yards rushing. It was the play of defensive end Jeremy Mincey, however, that earned a game ball, for his "two sacks and relentless effort all day," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars have come to depend on strong performances from Knighton and Alualu, but Mincey's effort, which included two tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries, was the shot in the arm the Jaguars needed in their effort to overcome the loss of star pass-rusher Aaron Kampman.
Sean Considine got the special teams' game ball – he also contributed a game-clinching interception – and running back Maurice Jones-Drew got the offense's game ball for his 132 yards rushing and game-winning 75-yard screen-pass catch and run to the one-foot line. Three plays later, he was in the end zone.
"We didn't allow them to run it and we were able to run it ourselves. We were able to run it well all day and they were not able to run it all day," Del Rio said of another critical determinant in the outcome.
The coach also cited improved play from his defensive ends.
Quarterback David Garrard, however, did not enjoy one of his better days, despite coming off two consecutively strong outings. Garrard was intercepted three times.
"He didn't play very well yesterday. We need him to play a whole lot better. His decision-making was not very good. We need him to play better, he has played better and he will play better," Del Rio said of Garrard.
Garrard's play late in the game, as he rallied the team to a game-tying touchdown drive that he capped with a 14-yard strike to tight end Marcedes Lewis, was strong.
"He did get it done for us at crunch time," Del Rio said.
So the Jaguars find themselves in Thanksgiving week with a realistic chance of winning the division title that Del Rio said early last spring would be the team's goal. Few regarded that statement seriously. Now, there's no denying the Jaguars' opportunity to get it done.
"I don't know what kind of leader I'd be if I couldn't provide a vision. We talked about winning the division. I feel the same way as when we started. There's been a vision, a commitment and a roadmap laid out," Del Rio said.
The Colts are coming off a disheartening loss in New England, the Texans have lost four in a row and five of their last six, and the Titans have a major issue at quarterback. Del Rio was asked if he's considered the possibility that Todd Bouman could be at quarterback for the Titans when the Jaguars play in Nashville in two weeks.
"We're aware of what's taking place in the division, but that's not where our focus is," Del Rio said.