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What a difference


Life is good. It could've been awful.

It is the simple difference between victory and defeat for the Jaguars. They won a game Sunday that earned them two days off and the promise of a pleasurable bye week. Had they lost, the situation would've been completely different.

Sunday's 23-16 win over the Chiefs left the Jaguars at 1-1 and with home games against the Jets and Eagles on the immediate horizon. All of a sudden, the Jaguars could consider the high life; a 3-1 start. Had they lost, we'd be wondering when this team would win its first game.

Winning changes everything.

"It was a big win. I don't know if our young players know what this means. For us to be a young team and come in here and get a victory is big," quarterback Mark Brunell said following a star performance that included two touchdown passes that changed the game.

"I feel good about everything," running back Fred Taylor said, following a 63-yard touchdown run that clinched victory with 3:09 to play. "I guarantee nobody expected us to come out here and win. But we're going to play our (butt) off every week."

They were playing in one of the NFL's most unfriendly stadiums. You don't expect to win in Arrowhead Stadium, unless you're the Chiefs. That fact left the Jaguars to doubly enjoy their first win of the season. It only served to increase the confidence they gained.

"Just believe in each other. We don't need anyone else. All we need is us," Taylor said.

But it wasn't that easy. The Jaguars had to walk the walk before they could talk the talk. And they did.

• Taylor's 114 yards rushing marked the first time he hit the 100-yard mark in a game since the next to last game of the 2000 season.

• Brunell erased a 6-0 Chiefs lead with a fourth-and-five pass to Jimmy Smith that Smith turned into a 37-yard touchdown play with 2:42 to play in the first half. Then, with six minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, Brunell found Patrick Johnson for a team-record 79-yard touchdown pass that broke a 9-9 tie.

"Outstanding effort, more than anything else. The ability to withstand the barrage in the early going was critical. We pointed toward the fourth quarter. We had to make a couple of big plays," coach Tom Coughlin said.

The Chiefs pushed the ball up and down the field in the first quarter, but had to settle for field goals. On the Chiefs' opening possession, they marched from their five-yard line to the Jaguars' eight, but on first down the Chiefs were guilty of holding. It may have been the most important penalty of the game.

Coughlin and his coaching staff were no less stars for the preparation they provided their players. Against the NFL's worst pass-defense, Coughlin devised a perfect game plan that mixed run and pass and left the Chiefs defense unsure of what it could do schematically. The Jaguars' nearly perfect run/pass mix caused the Chiefs to cancel any blitz plans they had and Brunell went unsacked.

"We thought on occasion we could catch them in single-high (safety). We went to a scheme with Jimmy (Smith) on the inside and Patrick (Johnson) on the outside," Coughlin said.

That was the adjustment that won the game for the Jaguars.

"I had a five-yard hitch if he played off," Johnson said of the coverage he expected from Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield on the second-and-four play that produced the go-ahead touchdown. "But he pressed and I beat him. It's basic stuff," Johnson added.

It was the exact play for which the Jaguars had acquired Johnson in the offseason. They signed him to be their deep threat; it produced a win.

Meanwhile, Smith provided heroics to which Jaguars fans have become accustomed. He remains the Jaguars' most consistent play-maker.

"That play was just designed to get the first down; quick curl," Smith said of the fourth-and-five touchdown pass, which followed a time out. "We've got a pretty good football team. All the guys came together as a team," he added.

How good a football team?

"It's still too early to say. We know we can put together a 12-play drive. It's just a matter of putting the ball into the end zone. We've got to score. We've got to come away with something," Smith said.

Kicking failures could've cost the Jaguars the game. A botched extra-point snap exchange between snapper Joe Zelenka and holder Chris Hanson cost the Jaguars a point following Smith's touchdown, then rookie kicker Hayden Epstein missed from 43 yards with the Jaguars leading 9-6 in the third quarter.

The Jaguars offensive line was no less a hero in the win. Zach Wiegert and company dominated the line of scrimmage.

"Better attitude; guys are getting more confident," Wiegert said of the improvement over a year ago, when Brunell was sacked 57 times. Brunell has been sacked only once in two games this year.

"Last year, if we had fumbled everybody would've been worried about the fumble. We don't have guys hurt like we did. We don't worry that Tony (Boselli) is hurt or Fred (Taylor) is hurt," Wiegert added.

A year ago the Jaguars were 2-0 at the same juncture, but that would be followed by five straight losses. At 1-1 this year, there's reason to believe the Jaguars' future is considerably brighter.

That's what this win did for the Jaguars. It significantly improved their state of mind.

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