Damon Gibson stood in front of reporters today and spoke of the worst day in his football life. Shortly after that, Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin gave Gibson a veiled vote of confidence.
"It's a tough pill to swallow. My play, I feel, cost us the game," Gibson said of his fumble of a third-quarter punt, with the Jaguars ahead 17-14 and hoping to seize control of the game.
Colts punter Hunter Smith's boot was low into the wind and sailed over Gibson's head. Gibson retreated and appeared to have time to pick up the ball and begin a return, but he bobbled it then lost it to the Colts' Clifton Crosby at the Jaguars 19-yard line. Three plays later, Peyton Manning's 12-yard touchdown pass to Qadry Ismail gave the Colts the lead for good.
Coughlin appeared to scold Gibson as he came off the field, but Gibson was engrossed in his own harsh review. "Once it happened, I already knew (what I had done wrong). But that's coach; he wants to win, just like I want to win," said Gibson, who faulted himself for "trying to do too many things at one time."
At his noon press conference today, Coughlin was asked if Gibson was still his number one punt-returner. "Right now, he is," Coughlin said.
Would he be the Jaguars' punt-returner in this Sunday's game in Kansas City?
"It's noon on Monday," Coughlin answered.
Gibson, a journeyman wide receiver who had been a very reliable punt-returner for the Jaguars last season, admitted to worry he might be released by the Jaguars this week. "Make a mistake like that, which I feel cost us the game, and, yeah, anything is a possibility," Gibson said.
Coughlin said he would "think about that whole situation today and tomorrow.
"Two things happened that didn't have to happen," Coughlin added, referring to Gibson's fumble and an interception quarterback Mark Brunell threw that was returned 40 yards for a touchdown with just 30 seconds to play in the first half. It gave the Colts a 14-7 lead at halftime.
"It cost us the game," Coughlin said of the blunders. "I'm upset about it."
The loss left the Jaguars as the only winless team in the AFC South. Tennessee rallied to beat Philadelphia and expansion Houston scored a shocking upset of intrastate rival Dallas. Coughlin spoke of how much it would've meant to the young Jaguars to have come away with a win in their season-opener, but he didn't dismiss the possible gains in defeat.
"The real positive today is I don't think there's anyone in (that locker room) with their dauber on the floor or thinking they can't win," Coughlin said.
Gibson may have been the exception.