THIS WEEK: The AFC Central Division champion Jacksonville Jaguars will play their first-ever postseason home game at ALLTEL Stadium when they host the New England Patriots in a Wild-Card playoff at 12:40 p.m. EST Sunday.
The Jaguars hope to have quarterback Mark Brunell return from a high ankle sprain that has sidelined him since the second play of the December 6 game against Detroit. Jacksonville is 2-2 in postseason play, including a 20-6 loss to the Patriots in the 1996 AFC Championship game. The Jaguars, fresh off a 21-3 Monday night victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers to finish the regular season, are one of only six NFL teams to have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons. They finished the 1998 season with an 11-5 record, tied for the best mark in franchise history with the 1997 Jaguars who lost a tiebreaker for the division championship. The Jaguars are the No. 3 seed in the AFC, while the Patriots, who finished the '98 season 9-7 and in fourth place in the AFC East, are the No. 6 seed.
The Jaguars have played their last 10 quarters with rookie Jonathan Quinn at quarterback after injuries sidelined Brunell and backup Jamie Martin. Still, they became the first team other than the Steelers to win the division since 1993, the year the Jaguars were awarded an expansion franchise and two years before they began play.
The Jaguars are 7-1 at home this year, and their 21-3 record at ALLTEL Stadium in the last three seasons is the fourth-best home record in the NFL in that time. The Jaguars have the fourth-best record in the NFL over the last 37 regular-season games dating back to November 24, 1996, when they began their late-season streak to the playoffs. The 27-10 record of the Jaguars in that time trails only Denver, San Francisco and Green Bay and is tied with Minnesota.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The Jaguars-Patriots game will be televised nationally by CBS and locally by WJXT Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will call the play-by-play and Phil Simms will add analysis, with Armen Keteyian serving as field reporter.
RADIO BROADCAST: The national broadcast of the game will be carried by CBS Radio, with Tony Roberts describing the action and Rick Walker providing analysis
All of the Jaguars' games are broadcast on WOKV (690 AM), WBWL (600 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network. Brian Sexton calls the play-by-play and former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis. Sexton and Robinson are in their fourth season together. Robinson, Jennifer Kumik, Vic Ketchman and Cole Pepper handle the pre-game show, and Pepper and ex-Oakland Raider Pete Banaszak do the post-game show. A total of 21 affiliates in four states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game.
TICKET INFORMATION: Nearly 9,000 tickets were still available as of Tuesday morning. The ticket office will be open 8:00 to 6:00 on Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:00 to 3:00 on Thursday, closed on Friday because of the Gator Bowl and open 8:00 to 6:00 on Saturday. Tickets are priced at $35, $45, $60 and $85. For information, call (904) 633-2000 or (800) 618-8005.
THE OPPONENT: The Patriots were charter members of the American Football League, beginning play in 1960 as the Boston Patriots. They failed to advance to the playoffs until their 16th season in 1975 under Chuck Fairbanks. In 1985, the Patriots finished the regular season 11-5 under Raymond Berry, then advanced as a Wild-Card team to Super Bowl XX, where they lost to the Chicago Bears 46-10. The Patriots finished out of the playoffs for the following seven seasons, then qualified for postseason in 1994 and '96 through '98. In 1996, they won the AFC East with an 11-5 record, defeated Jacksonville in the AFC Championship game and went on to Super Bowl XXXI, where they were defeated by the Green Bay Packers 35-21. This year they were 9-7, finishing in fourth place in the AFC East in their second season under head coach Pete Carroll.
THE SERIES: The Patriots have won all three games played between the two teams, twice in the regular season and once in the postseason. In 1996, the Patriots won 28-25 on September 25 in Foxboro, Mass., and they won the AFC Championship game at home that year 20-6. In 1997, the Patriots defeated Jacksonville 26-20 on December 7 at ALLTEL Stadium.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars saw their 13-game home winning streak end as they were defeated by the Patriots 26-20 at ALLTEL Stadium on December 7, 1997. The Jaguars fell behind 13-0 in the first quarter after allowing 10 points off two turnovers. Keenan McCardell caught 11 passes and scored two touchdowns, and Reggie Barlow's 92-yard kickoff return for a TD closed the gap to six points with 2:15 to play. The Patriots tried to run out the clock and missed a field goal with 28 seconds remaining. Four plays later Mark Brunell's Hail Mary pass to the end zone was batted down. Brunell completed 25 of 42 passes for 251 yards and two TDs, and McCardell was the recipient of 11 of those passes for 152 yards. New England's Drew Bledsoe was 26 of 35 for 234 yards and two TDs, but the Patriots ran for only 55 yards on 20 carries.
INJURY UPDATE: Injured in the Pittsburgh game were: S Chris Hudson (ankle), DE Tony Brackens (hip), OT Leon Searcy (knee), MLB Bryan Schwartz (concussion) and C Quentin Neujahr (neck). Missing the game with injuries were QB Mark Brunell (ankle), S Donovin Darius (hip), S Mike Logan (knee), LB Reggie Lowe (knee), DE Jose White (groin), G Todd Fordham (thumb), RB Tavian Banks (foot). The status of all injured players will be updated during the week.
THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin has led the Jaguars to the playoffs each of the last three seasons - a first for an NFL expansion team and one of only six teams in the NFL to do so - and the 1998 AFC Central Division championship. In 1997, the Jaguars finished 11-5 and lost the AFC Central Division championship on the fifth tiebreaker to Pittsburgh. The Jaguars were defeated by Denver in the Wild-Card playoffs. In their second season in 1996, the Jaguars advanced all the way! to the AFC Championship game, finishing the regular season in second place in the division with a 9-7 record. In the playoffs, the Jaguars upset the Bills and Broncos on the road before losing at New England. In 1995, Coughlin's Jaguars finished with four victories in their inaugural season. He became head coach of the Jaguars on February 21, 1994 following three successful seasons as head coach at Boston College. Coughlin compiled a record of 21-13-1 from 1991 to '93 at Boston College, and had two appearances in bowl games and a ranking of 13th in the final AP poll of 1993. A veteran of 27 years of coaching, he was previously an NFL assistant coach with the New York Giants (wide receivers, 1988-90), Green Bay Packers (wide receivers and passing game coordinator 1986-87) and Philadelphia Eagles (wide receivers, 1984-85). He has a record of 35-29 during the regular season and 2-2 in the postseason.
In his first season as the New England coach in 1997, Pete Carroll led the Patriots to a 10-6 record, the AFC Eastern Division title, and a win over the Miami Dolphins in an AFC Wild-Card Game. This season the Patriots went 9-7 and finished in fourth place in the AFC East. Carroll came to New England after serving two seasons as defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. In Carroll's first season with the 49ers, his defense ranked first in the NFL. Carroll served one season as head coach of the New York Jets in 1994, posting a 6-10 record. Prior to being named head coach, he served as the team's defensive coordinator for four seasons. Carroll began his coaching career in 1974 at the University of Pacific. In 1977, he moved to Arkansas, then to Iowa State (1978). The following year, Carroll moved to Ohio State for one season, then to North Carolina State (1980-82), before rejoining Pacific in 1983. Carroll landed his first NFL coaching job as secondary coach for the Buffalo Bills in 1984, serving in the same capacity for the Minnesota Vikings (1985-89). His Vikings' secondaries averaged 25 interceptions per season and ranked first in passing defense in 1989. He has a record of 25-23 in the regular season and 1-1 in the postseason.
COUGHLIN RANKED AMONG LEAGUE'S TOP COACHES: With every victory, Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin moves up on two lists when compared to other elite active NFL head coaches. In 1998, Coughlin had six victories in eight games vs. AFC Central teams and seven wins in eight home games. Coughlin has the fifth-best record of all current NFL coaches in division games and the fifth-best record in home games (minimum of 16 home games). Records include all teams coached by an individual.
RECORDS IN DIVISION GAMES
RECORDS IN HOME GAMES
DAILY SCHEDULE: Interview times and practice for the next week are as follows:
|Wednesday||11:45 - 12:15 p.m.||12:15 p.m.||1:30 p.m.|
|Thursday||11:45 - 12:15 p.m.||12:15 p.m.||1:30 p.m.|
|Friday||1:15 - 1:30 p.m.||No Availability||11:30 a.m.|
|Saturday||No Availability||No Availability||No Availability|
|Sunday||Jaguars vs. Patriots||12:35 p.m.||ALLTEL Stadium|
JAGUARS VS. PATRIOTS: In three games between the two teams (including the 1996 AFC Championship game), Jaguars QB Mark Brunell completed 68 of 119 passes (57.1 percent) for 873 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions (and a two-point conversion). WR Jimmy Smith has 14 catches for 191 yards and one TD, and WR Keenan McCardell has 19 receptions for 241 yards and two TDs, with one 100-yard game. TE Pete Mitchell caught 14 passes for 139 yards and no TDs. PK Mike Hollis has been successful on 3 of 5 field goal attempts and 4 of 4 extra points for 13 total points. ... For the Patriots, QB Drew Bledsoe has played all three games, completing 73 of 112 passes (65.2 percent) for 667 yards, three TDs and two INTs. WR Shawn Jefferson has 11 receptions for 157 yards and no TDs, and TE Ben Coates caught 11 passes for 86 yards and two TDs. PK Adam Vinatieri is 11 of 14 on field goals and 3 of 4 on extra points for 36 total points.
JACKSONVILLE-NEW ENGLAND CONNECTIONS: The Jaguars have two former Patriots on the 53-man roster: WR Will Moore (1995-96), G Rich Tylski (practice squad in 1994), and TE Rich Griffith, who is on injured reserve (fifth-round draft choice in 1993). ... The Patriots have one former Jaguar on the roster: DE Ferric Collons, who was one of the original 10 players to be signed by the Jaguars (12/15/94) and was released during minicamp in April. ... Jaguars offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was the quarterbacks coach for the AFC Champion Patriots in 1996 and the wide receivers coach from 1993 to '95. He also served as the head coach at Boston University in 1988 and '89 ... Jaguars tight ends coach Fred Hoaglin coached the Patriots' offensive line from 1993 to '96 ... Four Patriots are from the state of Florida: OT Bruce Armstrong (Miami), WR Shawn Jefferson (Jacksonville, Raines High and Central Florida), WR Anthony Ladd (Homestead) and DE Greg Spires (Cape Coral and Florida State). Also, LB Vernon Crawford played at Florida State ... Numerous Jaguars have a connection to Boston College: Tom Coughlin spent six seasons with the Golden Eagles, as head coach (1991-93) and offensive coordinator (1981-83). While head coach, he coached Jaguars TE Pete Mitchell, LB Tom McManus, G Mark Nori and LB Erik Storz and Patriots DE Chris Sullivan. In addition, five of Coughlin's current assistants were on his staff at Boston College: WR coach Pete Carmichael, RB coach Jerald Ingram, OL coach Mike Maser, strength and conditioning coach Jerry Palmieri and ILB coach Steve Szabo. Carmichael worked at Boston College from 1968-72, when he coached Patriots offensive line coach Paul Broudeau, who was a guard for the Golden Eagles. Carmichael returned to Boston College in 1981 and stayed until 1994. Jaguars director of pro scouting Fran Foley was also an assistant to Coughlin at Boston College ... Szabo worked with Patriots head coach Pete Carroll in 1978 at Iowa State and in 1979 at Ohio State ... Coughlin and Hoaglin were with the Giants with Patriots strength and conditioning coach Johnny Parker ... Jaguars special teams coordinator Larry Pasquale (1990-91) and Patriots defensive backs coach Ron Lynn (1986-91) were on the staff in San Diego at the same time WR Shawn Jefferson (1991-95) was a Charger... Jaguars CB Aaron Beasley and DB Mike Logan were teammates at West Virginia with Patriots TE Lovett Purnell ... Jaguars QB Mark Brunell was a senior at Washington when Patriots S Lawyer Milloy was a redshirt freshman ... Jaguars OT Tony Boselli played at Southern California with Patriots DE Willie McGinest ... Jaguars S Chris Hudson played at Colorado with Patriots G Heath Irwin and LB Ted Johnson. Johnson and Hudson were on the same team as Jaguars CB Deon Figures ... Jaguars DE Tony Brackens played at the University of Texas with Patriots S Chris Carter ... Jaguars TE Rich Griffith and LB Brant Boyer played at the University of Arizona with Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi ... Jaguars RB Tavian Banks and Patriots RB Sedrick Shaw were teammates at the University of Iowa ... Jaguars FB Zack Crockett and G Todd Fordham played with Patriots DE Greg Spires at Florida State. Patriots LB Vernon Crawford also played with Fordham ... Jaguars S Donovin Darius was teammates with Patriots CB Tebucky Jones and C Dave Wohlabaugh at Syracuse ... Jaguars CB Kevin Devine played with Patriots CB Kato Serwango at the University of California ... Jaguars RB Chris Howard was teammates with Patriots G Damon Denson, FB Chris Floyd, and CB Ty Law at the University of Michigan ... Jaguars C Quentin Neujahr played with Patriots CB Chris Canty at Kansas State ... Jaguars DE Jeff Lageman played for the New York Jets in 1994 when Carroll was the head coach ... Jaguars DE Joel Smeenge played for the New Orleans Saints (1990-94) when Jaguars DL coach John Pease (1986-94) was on the staff with Patriots coaches Paul Boudreau (1987-93), Steve Sidwell (1986-94), Carl Smith (1986-96) and Steve Walters (1986-96) ... Jaguars DT Kelvin Pritchett (1991-94) played for the Detroit Lions with Patriots S Willie Clay (1992-95) ... Jaguars WR Keenan McCardell (1992-95) played for the Cleveland Browns with Patriots P Tom Tupa (1993-95) ... Jaguars P Bryan Barker (1990-93) played for the Kansas City Chiefs with Patriots TE Mark Bartrum (1993) ... Jaguars DT John Jurkovic (1991-95) played for the Green Bay Packers with Bartrum (1995) ... Jaguars QB Jamie Martin (1993-94, 96) played for the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams with Patriots CB Steve Israel (1992-94) ... Jaguars DE Fernando Smith (1994-97) played for the Minnesota Vikings with Patriots DT Henry Thomas (1987-94) ... Jaguars DE Eric Curry played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-97) with Patriots DT Mark Wheeler (1992-95).
NEXT WEEK: If the Jaguars defeat the Patriots, they will travel to New Jersey to meet the New York Jets in an AFC divisional playoff game on Sunday, January 10. Kickoff will be at 12:35 p.m. at Giants Stadium. The Jaguars and Jets have played twice before, with each team winning one game. The Jets defeated the Jaguars 27-10 at Giants Stadium on September 17, 1995 in the Jaguars' third game in team history, and the Jaguars beat the Jets 21-17 on October 13, 1996 at ALLTEL Stadium.
LAST WEEK: The Jaguars concluded the 1998 regular season with a 21-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at ALLTEL Stadium with strong performances by rookie quarterback Jonathan Quinn and the defense. In getting his first NFL victory as a starter, Quinn completed 10 of 19 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown, and he also ran for his first NFL score. Fred Taylor scored twice to finish with 17 touchdowns, tied for second in the NFL. The defense had three takeaways and held the Steelers to one field goal, marking the fewest points every allowed by the Jaguars in a game. The game was played before a record crowd of 74,143.
NOTES FROM THE STEELERS GAME: The Jaguars won their regular-season finale for the fourth straight season. ... The three points allowed bettered the previous record of nine points allowed three times (9/1/96 vs. Pittsburgh, 11/16/97 at Tennessee and 12/21/97 at Oakland) ... The 18-point margin of victory was the team's third most ever (23 on 9/7/97 vs. N.Y. Giants and 26 on 11/1/98 at Baltimore). ... The victory gave the Jaguars a 7-1 record at home and 6-2 mark in the division for the second straight year. ... The Jaguars were outgained (297 yards to 361), had fewer first downs (16 to 20) and less time of possession (26:13 to 33:47). But Jacksonville converted 8 of 15 third downs (53 percent, tied for their second best of the season), while Pittsburgh was just 3 of 13 (23 percent, second best of the season). ... The Jaguars allowed 205 yards rushing, the second most in team history (246 by Seattle on 11/12/95). But Pittsburgh had only 156 net yards passing, the second-fewest allowed by Jacksonville all year. ... The Jaguars also had three takeaways and no turnovers, improving them to plus-10 for the season. Kevin Devine had his first NFL interception, and Dave Thomas had his first of the year and fifth of his career. Thomas also recovered a fumble that was forced by MLB Bryan Schwartz.
THE TAYLOR REPORT: Fred Taylor led the team with 71 yards on 21 carries and scored touchdowns both rushing and receiving. He also had two receptions for 21 yards. It marked the second time this season he has scored both ways in one game. ... The two scores gave Taylor 14 rushing touchdowns for the season and 17 total touchdowns. His 14 rushing TDs tied him for third place in NFL history for rushing TDs by a rookie. He tied the mark set by Gale Sayers (1965), Barry Sanders (1989) and Curtis Martin (1995). The NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a rookie is 18 by Eric Dickerson (1983), followed by 15 by Ickey Woods (1988). ... Taylor also tied for third place for total touchdowns by a rookie in a season. The record is 22 by Gale Sayers, followed by Dickerson with 20. Randy Moss also had 17 this season. ... In 12 starts, Taylor finished the season with 264 rushes for 1,223 yards (4.6-yard average) and 44 receptions for 421 yards (9.6 average).
Jimmy Smith had three receptions for 62 yards to extend his streak to 56 consecutive games with a catch, and Keenan McCardell had three receptions for a team-high 85 yards. ... The Jaguars had two sacks in the game, by Bryce Paup and a shared sack by Joel Smeenge and Tony Brackens. For the season, Paup had 6.5 sacks, Smeenge had 7.5 and Brackens had 3.5. ... Bryan Barker punted seven times for a 42.4-yard average and a 41.9 net, with no touchbacks and three inside the 20. His 28 inside the 20s this season were a career high. He had two punts returned for only four yards. ... Mike Hollis did not have a field goal attempt for only the second time all season. Hollis finished the year with a streak of 13 straight field goals, which is the second-longest streak in team history (the record is 16 by Hollis in 1997). ... WLB Kevin Hardy led the team with 9 tackles, (5 solo), followed by CB Dave Thomas with 7 tackles (6 solo). ... The only players who dressed but did not play were QB Will Furrer and CB Cordell Taylor ... Saturday's inactives were: S Donovin Darius, RB Tavian Banks, S Mike Logan and LB Reggie Lowe; Monday's inactives were: QB Mark Brunell, G Mark Nori, G Todd Fordham and DT Jose White. ... Jaguars captains were OT Tony Boselli, LB Kevin Hardy, KR Reggie Barlow and P Bryan Barker.
FROM COACH TOM COUGHLIN ON THE STEELERS GAME: "We're 11-5 for the season, 7-1 at home and 6-2 in the division. It was an outstanding job tonight. We came in here just one week after that humiliating loss at Minnesota, nothing changed except we lost a couple more players, and to play like we did tonight showed the Jaguars pride of our team. The three turnovers were critical. I thought Fred Taylor ran with power, and he exhibited a tremendous impact as he burst through the line of scrimmage. Jonathan Quinn is a big man who can run, and we took advantage of that a couple of times tonight. And he got the ball to Jimmy Smith and Keenan (McCardell), which is what you have to do. It was very important for us to win. We talked about the confidence and the momentum that would feed from such a win tonight. Without a doubt it was critical for us.
(on Jonathan Quinn) "We're talking about a rookie who went out there and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers - that's not bad. Who can describe the emotion going through his mind after playing in one of the most difficult places in the NFL last weekend (the Metrodome) and suffering a humiliating loss, to come in here tonight and win.
(on the defense) "It was amazing. I really was impressed with the way our defense played, because we knew coming in here that turnovers would be critical. The Steelers had turned it over 10 times in the last three games. I almost challenged our defense to get a shutout. I did not do it, but three points on the board, even though their offense has struggled, you can see the talent that is on the field. Lots has been said about our defense, and the numbers don't add up (well). There was a lot of rushing yards tonight, and there were a lot last week. Again, 11-5, 7-1 and 6-2. A lot of guys tonight were going on guts alone.
(on being division champions) "We are division champions and nobody can take it away. We earned it; we deserved it. We're 11-5 and I'm proud of that. It's hard to win in this league.
(on the possibility that Mark Brunell might be back for the playoffs) "That would give our kids a real jolt. He's made great progress. It's a very short week and we'll see what he can do on Wednesday. If he can practice even in a limited role it'll definitely give our players some excitement."
FROM QB JONATHAN QUINN: (on the difference between the Minnesota and Pittsburgh games): "Everything was just clearer this week. It sure makes a difference. But the main thing was being home - you have your fans, the crowd noise is on them - that helps out a lot.
(on what he felt he improved on) "I learned not to try to force the ball over the middle and to hold it if no one is open and to really hold on to the ball in the pocket. But I also learned what it felt like to take a knee at the end of the game - it was awesome."
FROM OT TONY BOSELLI: (on gaining momentum going into the playoffs) "We needed to play good football. After last week's game we needed a good win to boost us into the playoffs."
FROM RB FRED TAYLOR: "I think I achieved the things I wanted to achieve and I think I did almost the best I could do. I just need to try to continue to improve in the playoffs and into next year.
(on his first year in the NFL) "It was everything I expected and more. Man, it's really tough. You come out of every game with bumps and bruises. You've just got to take care of your body."
FROM LB KEVIN HARDY: (on the defensive effort) "It definitely feels good to play like this to get ready for next weekend. We gave up a lot of yardage, but I think it was a solid effort. The important thing is the defense stepped up and kept them out of the endzone. New England has a rookie running back, and he's had some good games. In fact, at one stretch, he had some terrific games, but playing against Pittsburgh and its running game definitely gets us ready for the playoffs."
MILLER LITE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The Jaguars' nominee for the Miller Lite Player of the Week Award is rookie QB Jonathan Quinn, who won his first game in the Jaguars' 21-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Quinn ran for a touchdown and threw for one, as he completed 10 of 19 passes for 192 yards, with no interceptions. He also ran four times for 23 yards.
1998 MILESTONES: The Jaguars concluded the 1998 regular season with a number of highlights:
- Won their first AFC Central Division championship, dethroning Pittsburgh after a four-year run
- Won 11 games, tying the team high set in 1997
- Became the NFL's first expansion team to qualify for the playoffs three times in its first four seasons
- Became one of only six teams to qualify for the playoffs each of the last three seasons (joining Denver, New England, Green Bay, San Francisco and Minnesota)
- Finished six games over .500 for the second time in team history (11-5, .688)
- Won seven of eight games at home for the third straight year, and six of eight within the division
- Went 4-4 on the road for the second straight year
- Improved the franchise's four-year record in the regular season to 35-29
- Improved their mark to 9-6 in December over four seasons n Scored 392 points, just two points off the team record set in 1997
- Scored a team-record 47 touchdowns, breaking the mark of 43 in 1997
- PK Mike Hollis became the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history (102 of 125 for 81.60 percent)
- Rookie RB Fred Taylor rushed for a team-record 1,223 yards and scored 17 touchdowns
- WR Jimmy Smith had his third consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season, and he had a team-high eight touchdown receptions
- The team rushed for a club-record 2,210 yards, breaking the old mark of 1,720 set in 1997
- QB Mark Brunell threw for a team-record 20 touchdowns, breaking his old mark of 19 set in 1996. The team had 24 TD passes, breaking the mark of 20 set in 1997
- Reggie Barlow led the AFC in punt returns, averaging 12.9 yards per return.
- Averaged 70,184 in attendance, breaking the record of 69,693 in 1995
FINAL 1998 AFC CENTRAL STANDINGS: The Jacksonville Jaguars finished the 1998 regular season with an 11-5 record and won the AFC Central Division championship. They also became the first expansion team to qualify for the playoffs three times in their first four seasons.