Jaguars News Archive

January 9, 2003 -- Jaguars Pull out Nailbiter in Season Opener!

Jacksonville, FL - The Jags played their first of 7 regular season games on Wednesday night. being forced to play at the Metrodome in Minneapolis even though listed as the home team due to problems with Altell Stadium (the Jaguars home field). The Jags narrowly defeated the Vikings in a game that took nearly 5 full quarters of hard hitting football action to finish! The final score was 17-14 in favor of the Jaguars!

The game started out much the way all of the Jaguars games have thus far, with the Jags managing to hold off their opponents in the first half, before having to hang on for dear life in the 2nd half of the game. Said coach Tom Coughin before the Vikings game Wednesday, "We really need to work on our 2nd half defensive abilities, because honestly right now it sucks. We play great in the 1st half and dominate, but in the 2nd half it seems like we're cemented to the ground, and that's hopefully going to end today." Well Tom...you were quite wrong. The Jaguars managed to take the early lead in the 2nd quarter off of an 18-yard breaking tackles run by running back Fred Taylor to put the Jags up 7-0. Both teams though put on a defensive showing and held each other to under 100 yards of offense in the first half.

The 2nd half was different though after Terrell Davis' mother flew in from Denver to give the Vikings offense a healthy dose of Cambell's Chunky Beef Stew. According to one Vikings player it was "mmm mmm good." On a side note, that player was later seen being rushed off to a Cambell's corporate limosine, so the objectivity of that statement is a bit questionable.

The 2nd half though was a complete flip of the first, as the Vikings came out ready to play, and play they did. Scoring a quick touchdown off a long drive down the field that ended with a pass from Vikings QB Daute Caulpepper to their star wide-reciever Randy Moss. From there the two defensive units really came into play, forcing the final of 5 punts by the Jaguars, and 4 by the Vikings!

In the 4th period, the Jaguars drove down the field relying on their strong running game, and the apparent weak run defense of the Minnesota offense. Fred Taylor picked up 45 of his 101 total rushing yards on the 78 drive which resulted in a 40 yard touchdown pass to Fred Taylor who broke still more tackels on his way to the end zone. When asked later about his astounding ability to break tackles, which he had been doing all preseason and now carries into the regular season, Taylor simply said "Well you know, the Vikings are the ONLY ones who are friends with Terrells mama."

The scoring didn't stop with that drive though, as the Vikings turned right around on their next drive, scoring on yet another pass to Moss who was left wide open in the end zone for the 2nd time to tie the score up at 14. And that's where it ended when the Jaguars could do nothing with the ball in the last 20 seconds to get within field goal range.

And so into over time the game went, the first over time game of the MNRL season! The Vikings won the toss to recieve the ball first, but were held very few yards before being forced to punt the ball away. The Jags didn't do any better and though they managed to get near midfield before being stopped dead, they failed to convert a 4th down conversion, giving the ball to the Vikings on their own 48 yard line.

The Vikings went nowhere however, as the Jags defense finally snapped out of their 2nd half drought and froze the Vikings to no yards on the drive. On the punt the Jaguars managed to get to about the 45 yard line yet again, where they punted it deep towards the end zone and...much to the suprise of everyone in the dome, the return man dropped the ball! After a mad scramble by both teams, the Jags recovered the fumble, giving them possession on the right hash marks at the Vikings 22 yard line. The Jaguars could have attempted a field goal, but first used several running plays to get them down inside the 15 yard line and near to the center of the field for an easier kick. And so, with just over 2 minutes remaining in the over time period, the Jaguars sent in kicker Tim Seder, who planted the 27 yard field goal dead down the middle of the uprights, and the celebration in the Jaguars locker room began.

January 8, 2003 -- Jags move to 3-1 in Preseason

Jacksonville, FL- The Jaguars returned home aboard their charter jet after suffering their first and only loss of the preseason in St. Louis against the Rams. The team played an astounding 4 games in 3 days, winning the first three against Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and New England before dropping the 4th to the Rams after a late field goal put the Rams up by 2 points, and the final play after the kickoff with 2 seconds on the clock resulted in a safety to QB Mark Brunell to end the game.

With the loss the Jags move to 3-1 in the preseason, and begin their preparations for the regular season, expected to begin later this week.

January 6, 2003 -- Jaguars squeeze out win over Steelers in Preseason

Pittsburgh, PA - The Jaguars stepped off their plane from Atlanta with their heads held high after their 27-0 romp of the Falcons last night. This game would be no cake walk though, as rainy conditions created a slick field that wreaked havoc on the running games for both offenses.

Jacksonville started the game out with the ball on their own 32 yard line, taking the ball a pathetic 0 yards before being forced to punt. The Steelers offense took over, led by Pro-Bowl running back Jerome Bettis, and marched down the field on a 55 yard drive before being stopped on the 9 yard line. However, the rainy conditions made for a perilous 26 yard field goal attempt which hooked wide right as the Steelers kicker struggled to keep his footing.

So, with Jacksonville back in control of the ball, head coach Tom Coughlin decided to unleash Fred Taylor on their second drive of the night. This time however, the Jaguars offense capitalized on a couple of short out passes to Taylor and full back Patrick Washington, which picked up 1st downs allowing them to march down the field before finally scoring a touchdown on a quick pass from starting QB Mark Brunell to Taylor who fooled the defense and was left standing with 15 yards of air around him in the corner of the end zone.

After a failed drive by the Steelers resulting in a lost fumble, the Jaguars were again stopped, this time missing their own 25 yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. The Steelers would then try a last second long shot to score and head to the locker room with a tie, but came up just short as time ran out in the 2nd period after moving over 60 yards on two long passes that overshot the Jaguars corner backs.

Heading into halftime the excitement in the air was obvious. With Jacksonville barely holding onto their 7 point lead, and the bad weather hampering both offenses quite effectively, nobody knew exactly what to expect in the 2nd half. What they got, was a great showdown between two very good offenses.

The 3rd quarter went scoreless with as 3 quick sacks of Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox forced Pittsburgh to punt again. The Jaguars didn't fair much better on their 3rd quarter possession, being forced punt it away after being stopped well short of a touchdown on their drive. The 4th quarter wouldn't be as boring however, as Pittsburgh came out ready to hammer the ball down the throats of the Jags defensive line. Bettis took the helm, getting the majority of his 45 yards running during the 4th period. QB Tommy Maddox hit receivers Hines Ward, and Plaxico Burress a couple times each for good gains before getting into the end zone on a horrible tackling exhibition by the Jags defense as Jerome Bettis walked into the end zone from the 8 yard line.

From there is got tense, as the Jaguars started out their drive after the kickoff on their own 23 yard line. Using some great clock management through effective runs, and picking up key first downs when they needed to be, the Jaguars were able to slowly march down the field, burning up the game clock as they went. Finally with less than a minute and a half to go in the game, Fred Taylor grabbed the hand off from Brunell and hammered his way into the end zone, barely breaking the plane before being tackled hard by the Steelers defensive linemen. The extra point would put the Jaguars up 14-7. But, Pittsburgh would get the ball back with about a minute left to play.

After a long kick put the Steelers on their own 25 yard line, a couple of good passes and quick timeouts put the strong Pittsburgh offense into a situation that looked like they might be able to pull off a last minute comeback win. However, that would end as quarterback Tommy Maddox would be sacked for the 4th time of the night as the clock ran out to end the game with the Jaguars again victorious over the Steelers 14-7.

After the game the Jaguars head coach had good things to say about his team, "The guys all came out really ready to play tonight. We knew it would be tough since we didn't have much downtime between games, but the guys were really fired up to come in here on the heels of the win in Atlanta. I though the game went really well, our defense was outstanding with 4 sacks at several key points in the game, and the passing game was superb tonight even with the wet field. I guess Fred (Taylor) didn't get enough beans with his steak last night though, cause he just didn't have the gas to get anywhere tonight against this Pittsburgh D." Team owner Landis Wiley managed to finish off his beer in time to make it down for a quick interview after the game before heading into the locker room to congratulate his players on the victory, "I can't wait for the regular season to start," he said, "these guys are putting it all on the field, and it ought to be an outstanding season if they can keep it up."

With that the team ran off to the locker room to celebrate and head back to the airport to hop on a plane back to Jacksonville for a much-deserved night of sleep.

January 5, 2003 -- Jaguars down Falcons in 1st Preseason Game

Atlanta - The Jacksonville Jaguars came north a couple hours drive on Sunday for their first preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons in a showdown pitting young gun Atlanta rookie Michael Vick against the seasoned veteran Mark Brunell from Jacksonville.

The Falcons would battle hard in the first quarter, holding the Jaguars scoreless as they shut down the early running game of star-running back Fred Taylor. When asked about their performance during that first quarter, coach Tom Coughlin responded, "Well, looking at how things turned out I can say this laughingly, but at the time I was pretty d*** worried. After all, this is our first preseason game, and to be held to only 6 offensive yards in that first period with over 2 minutes of possession time, it's definitely not the opening bang you'd like to come out with."

The second half changed things around considerably however, as the Jaguars unleashed their passing game, which, led by long completions in the age old 'Brunell to Smith' combo, set up a pair of short-yardage rushing touchdowns for the Jaguars. The Jacksonville defense led by free safety Donovin Darius managed to hold down a hard charging Falcons offense, pulling off a couple interceptions and stopping them short of the end zone where Atlanta missed a 29 yard field goal attempt. The Jaguars nearly entered the locker room at the half with a 21-0 lead, if not for a Ray Buchanan interception in the end zone with 14 seconds left on the clock. The Falcons tried to capitalize on the turnover, driving down the field on two 30 yard passes by rookie QB Mike Vick, before being stopped as time ran out.

The second half was much the same. Jacksonville came out of the locker room pumped up, looking to lock down victory in their opening game. Smart football in the 3rd quarter resulted in a field goal from the kickoff reception and resulting drive down the field, giving the Jaguars a 17-0 lead with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The Falcons couldn't return the favor however, starting what would be turnover nightmare when Vick threw his 2nd interception of the night. However, Brunell followed suit, throwing an interception on a failed pass to tight end Kyle Brady. The Falcons would take over on their own 4 yard line, trying to pass their way out before Vick would be hit hard by a strong blitz by defensive tackle John Henderson early in the 4th quarter, resulting in a fumble that Jacksonville would recover on the 3 yard line.

Mark Brunell would need just 2 attempts to punch in another touchdown, this time finding full back Patrick Washington in the corner of the end zone to take the Jaguar lead to 24-0. So, with less than 2 minutes remaining, Atlanta tried one last time to get some points on the board, coming up short when Vick threw his 3rd interception of the night, this time being picked up by star corner back Marlon McCree. Jacksonville would then bring out their running game as Fred Taylor drove home his final of 81 yards on the ground running down the game clock until kicking a 24 yard field goal as the clock hit zero, giving the Jaguars a commanding 27-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

"This was just an amazing game," Brunell said after the final whistle blew, "we came out here not knowing what to expect with a team going through some rebuilding, and the first quarter was rough, but the team just came out in the 2nd quarter ready to play, and my receivers were in the right place at the right time to bring down the big plays when we needed them. I tell ya, Jimmy (Smith) definitely deserves an MVP or somethin' after those awesome diving catches he made tonight." Speculation has been running high over whether the Big-3 (Brunell, Smith, and Taylor) will remain together next season, but that doesn't seem to be deterring them from putting it all on the field in what's shaping up to be a great season in Jacksonville.