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Win-out is the goal

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Joe from Irving, TX:
What's with your picture on your top 10? It looks like you're writing the U.S. Constitution with a magic marker.

Vic: You're referring to my "10 things." Hey, that's not even my hand. The IT guys pasted somebody's big mitt onto my arm. I'm starting to wonder if that's even my head. I'm hoping it isn't.

Asa from Visalia, CA:
I was reading some of your earlier "Ask Vic" columns today. Why do so many people seem to hate you, sir?

Vic: I don't know but it's a good thing. It helps me keep my Pittsburgh edge.

Broc from Annamoriah, WV:
How are those facial tics?

Vic: You know, Manning wasn't that bad on Sunday. I can remember a couple of times when he was pointing and wiggling, but he wasn't nearly as hyperactive as I've seen him at other times. One time he started pointing and my cheek started twitching, but I was able to fight it off.

Kristen from Norwalk, CT:
I followed the game listening to Internet Radio, staring at's updates and reading your blog. Maybe you can offer some insight on my question. Why did Del Rio choose not to go for the onside kick when we scored and made it 26-18?

Vic: The Jaguars had all three of their times out remaining. Jack Del Rio's decision to kick away was an expression of his confidence in his defense. He had to decide which gave him the better chance of getting the ball back, recovering an onside kick or getting a stop from his defense. Del Rio went with his defense. It's a pick 'em.

Nathan from Golden, CO:
Losses by the Chargers and Chiefs greatly helped our playoff chances; the Jags can even afford to lose one and be in. Am I correct?

Vic: I don't think that's the right way to look at it. The remaining three teams on the Jaguars schedule have a combined record of 7-32. I don't think we should be looking for a way for the Jaguars to squeeze into the playoffs. Win-out and take a 12-4 record into the playoffs; that's how you do it. A 12-4 record would be a major feather in this franchise's hat; any franchise's hat. Three wins at the end of the season would put the Jaguars on a mini-roll heading into the postseason.

George from Savannah, GA:
In the last few games and notably in the Indy game, Rashean Mathis has been outplayed resulting in several touchdowns. Is this a fault of the defensive schemes utilized or is Mathis somewhat over-rated?

Vic: He's not overrated. That's my opinion. I believe he's a sensational young player who, unfortunately, experienced a bad game on Sunday against the Colts. He bit hard on a subtle fake by Marvin Harrison. I remember seeing Rod Woodson do the same thing against James Lofton early in Woodson's career. Mathis will rebound, just as Woodson did.

John from Neptune Beach, FL:
I was at the game. I disagree on your turning point. To me it was Del Rio's decision not to go for fourth-and-one on the opening drive. There was more value to be gained in getting that yard than to be lost in not making it.

Vic: So, with 10:46 to play in the first quarter and the ball at the Colts 43-yard line, you wanna risk giving Peyton Manning the ball at midfield on a play that might've still left you with 42 yards between you and the goal line. That's not professional football. Professional football is about field position. It's about giving your opponents a long field, getting a stop from your defense and getting the ball back in good field position. That's how you establish control against an explosive offensive team. It's not about I score, you score. You're not going to win that kind of game against the Colts. That's why I think the Colts' opening drive of the game was decisive. The Jaguars were in position to make an early statement on defense and establish momentum, but it was the Colts who took the initiative by driving 89 yards for a touchdown. Go back to the Cincinnati game. The Jaguars forced a punt by the Bengals from their own end zone on the opening series of the game, and the Jaguars took over at the Bengals 41 and drove for a touchdown. The Jaguars have gambled on lots of fourth-and-one plays and lost. You can do that against Tommy Maddox and win, but you're not going to do that against Manning and win.

Jack from Oakville, Canada:
If the Jaguars were to finish as the AFC's fifth-seeded team and were to win in the wild-card round, would we play the first or second seed in the divisional round of the playoffs?

Vic: All you have to remember is that the highest-seeded team plays the lowest-seeded. By the way, a reporter friend of mine, Rick Gosselin of the "Dallas Morning News," spent some time hangin' out in my office this morning, so I asked him to give me his playoff picks in each conference. Here are his picks: 1. Colts, 2. Bengals, 3. Broncos, 4. Patriots, 5. Jaguars and 6. Steelers in the AFC, and 1. Seahawks, 2. Bucs, 3. Giants, 4. Bears, 5. Panthers and 6. Cowboys in the NFC.

Brad from Tallahassee, FL:
I'm watching the Lions vs. Packers and near the end of the first half the announcers said that if the Lions fair-catch the punt they could get a "free kick" and line up for a field goal. I've never heard of this and it seems quite a bit bizarre to me. Could you explain it?

Vic: We've talked about this before. It's called a "fair catch kick." After having made a fair catch, the receiving team may elect to attempt a "fair catch kick" from the point of the fair catch. The rulebook states: "The fair catch kick line for the kicking team is the yard line through the most forward point from which the ball is kicked. The fair catch kick line for the receiving team is the yard line 10 yards in advance of the kicking team's fair catch kick line." In other words, it's a field goal attempt out of a kickoff formation. When would you use it? When you've got time remaining for one play and you're in field goal range.

James from Sierra Vista, AZ:
The defense didn't play poorly, they just were on the field for the entire game. Opponents will get that many yards if your offense goes three-and-out on every possession.

Vic: Denial won't work. Shifting the blame won't help. That's not how you get better. The defense played its worst game of the year and it just happened to be against one of the best offenses in the history of the game.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I want to give thanks to the fans who stayed the whole game. I was extremely disappointed when everybody left with 10 minutes to go in the game. We could have used some crowd noise on that third-and-seven. What's up with that, Vic?

Vic: They were there in the beginning. They were ready to go. It just didn't work out as expected and it happens that way sometimes. I'm not going to fault fans for bailing out. Losing 26-3 midway through the fourth quarter will empty most NFL stadiums.

Jon from Jacksonville:
Did the fourth quarter of the first Colts-Jags game this year, in which the Colts ran it down the Jags throats once the passing game was ineffective, cause the Jags to rethink their defensive strategy for this game? It seemed like they abandoned the pass-defense strategy that worked so well in the first meeting for a more conventional seven-man front to stop the run first, and the corners weren't in that physical man press coverage. What happened to the defense?

Vic: The Colts opened up with two tight ends, two wide receivers and one running back. The defensive remedy for that is "cover two," which the Jaguars used almost exclusively in the first half. "Cover two," which includes two deep safeties in the middle of the field, is not a run-defense, it's a pass-defense. The Jaguars did not use the 3-3-5 they used in week two until the second half; the 3-3-5 doesn't give you enough muscle against two tight ends. Football is a chess match. Colts Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore did a very good job of moving his pieces. He stretched the Jaguars sideline to sideline in the Colts' first drive by using screens and stretch plays and swing passes, then, after making the Jaguars conscious of the horizontal game, he attacked them vertically with a 65-yard pass to Marvin Harrison.

Jim from Jacksonville:
Could you please tell us where the team you saw in the locker room that was "ready to play" went?

Vic: The Jaguars were ready to play. They were emotionally charged to play this game. That's why I tend to shrug off people when they say, "they were flat." How do you know that? Teams in the process of allowing 89-yard drives tend to look flat. What are you gonna do, celebrate a 12-yard gain by the other team? Up or flat is a fan perception that is usually the result of success or failure. The Jaguars were ready to play. It wasn't about not being ready. It was about not playing well enough. I obviously attached too much importance to the emotional aspect of the game and not enough importance to the advantages the Colts enjoyed in all three phases. Let's not forget about Mike Vanderjagt; he's money in the bank.

Mary from Middleburg, FL:
What was your opinion on the "coach's challenge," in which the referee said the receiver had both feet in bounds?

Vic: I thought the Jaguars might win the "challenge" because it appeared the ball may have slid down Harrison's belly as his first foot came off the ground. Referee Jeff Triplette didn't see enough evidence of the ball moving while in Harrison's grasp. I also don't think the circumstances that preceded the "challenge" helped the Jaguars' cause.

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