HOUSTON—It's a win the measure of which can only be fully appreciated by understanding the depth of despair defeat would've caused and the degree of depression the Texans are feeling today for the score they squandered on Sunday.
David Garrard spent the tense moments during which the outcome hung in the balance by saying a little prayer. He knew what defeat would've meant to his team.
"It would've been terrible; it really would've. I would've felt terrible," Garrard said.'
Terrible? It was even worse than that for Texans running back Chris Brown, who fumbled on the goal line as the Texans were going in for the game-tying touchdown. In the postgame locker room, Brown broke down and cried.
As bad as it was for Brown, it may even be worse for coach Gary Kubiak. This was his chance to get over the hump. Now, the Texans are back under the hump, again, and Kubiak's job is hanging in the balance.
This was the very best of wins for the young Jaguars, who were coming off a shellacking by the Cardinals that was followed by a week-long harangue by the team's fans. Garrard, of course, was at the epicenter of that criticism.
It's a win that buys the Jaguars time and may even quiet the critics for a week. Imagine that, a whole week of peace.
"You can't worry about the criticism. It's just fans being fans. It's part of the game. If you can't deal with that, you shouldn't be playing the game," Garrard said.
The stats will tell you a lie. They'll tell you Garrard, who completed 18 of 30 passes for 214 yards and a pedestrian 81.0 passer rating, was ordinary, but he was anything but ordinary. He was extraordinary in his command of the action, right down to his 30-yard run and a short run for a touchdown and his critical third-down completions that allowed the Jaguars to dominate time of possession in the second half.
Garrard and the Jaguars offense matched Matt Schaub and the Texans score for score until the Jaguars defense rose to the occasion. Still, as the clock ticked toward two minutes to play in the game, it appeared Garrard and company would have to score one more time.
Fate intervened. It smiled on the Jaguars and scorned Brown and the Texans. Maybe fate had grown tired of "Battle Red Day."
Garrard wasn't the only one on the Jaguars sideline who was feeling tense. Coach Jack Del Rio was explosive all day. Ironically, it was on the same field a year ago that Del Rio was viewed by fans to have been disinterested.
"Was I?" a smiling Del Rio said when it was suggested he was rather intense in his sideline demeanor this time. "Terrific highs and terrible lows; I think it's what makes the game special."
This one is special because it gives the Jaguars hope of making this season something more than just an exercise. Winless Tennessee comes to town next weekend and with a win the Jaguars could put themselves in a competitive position within a division that appears to be considerably weaker than it's been in the past.
That's the kind of bright outlook this win presents to the Jaguars.