Jags choke, Colts close in on another AFC South crown

Here are five quick-hit observations on the AFC South following the Jaguars’ 20-17 overtime loss to the Redskins and the Colts’ 31-26 win over the Raiders on Sunday.

1. How the South can be won.
If the Colts beat the Titans next Sunday, they’ll have 10 wins on the season. If the Jaguars beat the Texans next Sunday, they’ll have nine wins. Quick math tells me that the Colts would therefore have more victories than the Jaguars and they would win the AFC South. So the mission is simple for the Colts next week: Just win baby. If the Colts lose to the Titans and the Jaguars beat the Texans, they they’d both finish at 9-7 and Jacksonville would win the South because they would have the better division record (4-2). But none of this matters because Peyton Manning isn’t losing at home next week to a team that has nothing to play for. Sorry Jacksonville, but you screwed the pooch last week when you could have won the division then.

2. What a horrendous effort by the Jaguars against the Redskins.
I know Maurice Jones-Drew is Jacksonville’s best player and essentially their entire offense, but seriously? That’s the best you got, Jaguars? Your season is on the line and you can’t muster a win at home against the Redskins? Unreal. Washington went four-of-15 on third down and still won. Jacksonville committed seven penalties for 66 yards, had punts bounce off their own players and turned the ball over twice. The second interception couldn’t have come at a worse time, as David Garrard was picked off on the Jags’ first offensive possession in overtime. The interception put the Skins in field goal position and they eventually won when Graham Gano hit a 31-yarder. The Jags were able to rack up 336 yards on Washington’s miserable defense, but they reached the red zone just twice and failed to score once. Just a bad, bad day all the way around for the men in teal.

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Colts beat Jaguars, are in control of their playoff destiny

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 28: Peyton Manning  of the Indianapolis Colts watches his teammates before the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Here are six quick-hit observations of the Colts’ huge 34-24 win over the Jaguars on Sunday.

1. Colts are now in the driver’s seat.
Congratulations Jaguars, you just put Peyton Manning in control of the Colts’ playoff destiny. With their win on Sunday, Indy needs to win its final two games and the Colts will win thier 97th straight (numbers exact) AFC South crown. Not that beating Manning on his home turf was going to be easy, but the Jags had a golden opportunity to put the Colts away for good and couldn’t do it. Now it’s a footrace from here on out, as the Colts travel to Oakland in Week 16 and Jacksonville hosts the Redskins.

2. Seriously, Josh Scobee?
When I think of horrendous onsides kick attempts, I think of Josh Scobee’s feeble try late in the fourth quarter. After the Jaguars had stolen a lot of the momentum back with a touchdown to get within three at 27-24, Scobee dribbled a kick about five yards in front of himself and Tyjuan Hagler returned the gift 41 yards for a touchdown. Recovering an onsides kick is tough enough. It’s even tougher when your kicker rolls one right to a defender so he can return it for an easy touchdown.

3. Why is Sean Considine still in the league?
How Sean Considine still has a job after proving he couldn’t start all those years up in Philadelphia is beyond me. The Colts knew the Jaguars’ weakness was the play of their safeties and Manning attacked them early and often. Considine, specifically, had issues with both the run and the pass. The Colts, who usually struggle running the football, rushed for 155 yards against a Jacksonville run defense that had been stout. Donald Brown had a breakout performance, rushing for 129 yards on 14 carries and one score. Of course, he was aided by the fact that Considine’s head didn’t stop spinning from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.

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Jaguars are now seizing control of the AFC South

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 28: David Garrard  of the Jacksonville Jaguars passes the ball against the New York Giants during the second Quarter of their game on November 28, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Okay, so “seizing control” is a bit much. But following their easy 17-6 win over the Titans on Sunday, coupled with the Colts’ mind-blowing 38-35 loss to the Cowboys, the Jags have sole possession of first place in the division.

It would appear that Jacksonville is winning via smoke and mirrors, but that would be unfair. Their young defensive tackles Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu (remember him, draft experts?) are playing outstanding football, while the combination of Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings is working offensively. They’re wearing opponents like the Titans down in the second half and David Garrard (although not great by any stretch of the imagination) is making plays when he has to.

Their schedule down the stretch is also very winnable. They host the Raiders next Sunday before traveling to Indy the following week for their big matchup with the Colts. Then they host the Redskins and travel to Houston to play a highly inconsistent Texans team. The Jags could easily go 3-1 over the final month of the season.

It’s amazing to think that the same Jacksonville team that looked some hopeless and lost on Monday Night Football against Tennessee earlier this season is on path to make the playoffs. Staggering.

Jaguars beat Texans on miracle Hail Mary attempt as time expires

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 03: Quarterback David Garrard  of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates the go ahead touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field on October 3, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

There’s only one man who should be calling a miracle Hail Mary touchdown at the end of a football game and that’s Gus Johnson.


Nobody will ever blame that man for not bringing enough emotion and enthusiasm to his job.

Houston cornerback Glover Quin did nothing wrong on the final play of the Texans-Jaguars game on Sunday. With the game tied 24-24 and overtime almost a certainty as the Jaguars lined at midfield, David Garrard heaved a desperation pass to the end zone with no time on the clock. Quin leapt high into the air and batted the ball back towards the field, just as defensive backs are taught to do.

The only problem is that he batted it right into the waiting arms of Jacksonville receiver Mike Thomas, who secured the 50-yard touchdown and an unbelievable 31-24 victory for the Jaguars.

Had Quin intercepted the pass, the game would have gone to overtime. But how many times are defensive backs scolded for not doing exactly what he did, which is bat the ball forward? The play was, by the very definition of the rule, a fluke. (Not to mention the play of the year.)

Perhaps even more unlikely than the touchdown is the fact that Jacksonville is now only one game behind Indianapolis in the AFC South. Pretty remarkable considering that this is the same Jaguars team that looked completely helpless against the Titans three weeks ago on Monday Night Football.

On the flip side, the loss drops Houston to 4-5 and into last place in the division. They’ve lost three in a row and coach Gary Kubiak has no answers on how to fix the worst defense in the NFL.


Thanks, Gus.

Cowboys reach a new low in blowout loss to Jaguars

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: Quarterback Jon Kitna  of the Dallas Cowboys looks to throw a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cowboys Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Down 14-3 with less than 20 seconds on the clock before halftime on Sunday, the Cowboys moved the ball to the Jaguars’ 1-yard line and faced a third-and-goal.

Punch the ball in and at 14-10, it’s a whole new game. Fail to convert and the misery that is the 2010 Cowboys’ season continues.

Naturally, the Cowboys settled for the latter.

On 3rd-and-1, Jon Kitna (who is only starting now because the Dallas’ O-line failed to pick up a blitzing Michael Boley last Monday night, which lead to Tony Romo being sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks) spun around and handed the ball off to Marion Barber, who was stuffed at the goal line. On 4th-and-1, Kitna ran into Barber at the exchange and once again, Barber was stuffed at the half-inch line.

Turnover on downs: Jacksonville football.

The two plays didn’t cost Dallas the game (a 35-17 Jaguar beatdown), but they personified what the 2010 season has become for the Cowboys. It’s not only that they fail to execute – they fail to execute because they mentally (and physically, apparently) get in their own way. They can’t block, they can’t tackle, they can’t run simple dive plays like the two Barber failed to score on. They’re just bad. They’re a bad football team.

Just because your starting quarterback is out, doesn’t mean you mail it in. Just because your starting quarterback is out, doesn’t mean you allow David Garrard to throw four touchdown passes and allow your opponent to treat your home field like it’s their own personal Mardi Gras celebration. It’s embarrassing. What the Cowboys did on Sunday was embarrassing.

But should anyone be surprised? This is what the season has come to for Dallas. Poor execution, dumb mistakes and ugly losses. But at this point, it is what it is. Wade Phillips isn’t going anywhere at the moment and Jerry Jones will just have to ride out the rest of the season before he can make wholesale changes.

Too bad he has to watch this monstrosity for another nine weeks.

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