Jaguars Buck Broncos

The Jacksonville Jaguars battled not only the elements, but the mystique of a former hometown hero in his return and ultimately defeated the Denver Broncos, 24-17. The Jaguars had all three units working and working well, as their fans saw an improved pass rush from the defense, better protection from the offensive line and a much more accurate David Garrard.

"It was a huge game coming in, I didn't try to downplay it," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "I didn't try to downplay it with the team."

Despite facing record-high temperatures at Everbank Field, both offenses were ice cold throughout much of the first half. The Jaguars finally broke through with under a minute remaining in the half as quarterback David Garrard connected with tight end Marcedes Lewis on a 21-yard catch and run. The 6'7", 270 lb. Lewis outran the Denver secondary to the end zone to put give the Jaguars the lead, 7-0.

"I would love to have the ball in crucial situations, but like I've said, my role is to go out there and regardless if I'm blocking for Maurice (Jones-Drew) to get through there, I'm going to do that."

The Jaguars advantage would be very short-lived as Denver raced down the field 74 yards in just 34 seconds to tie the game at seven. Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton delivered a strike to former Florida Gator Jabar Gaffney in the back of the end zone from eight yards away.

"We had to go," Gaffney said when asked about the drive. "We were down and we had time on the clock and we are going to try and get points on the board and we were able to."

As the teams came out in the second half, temperatures spiked to 93 degrees with a heat index of 105 degrees, a new Everbank Field record. The Jaguars offense was in accord with the weather as they took advantage of a short field thanks to a 46-yard kickoff return by Tiquan Underwood. Jacksonville marched 53 yards on eight plays and made good in the red zone as tight end Marcedes Lewis caught his second touchdown of the game to put the Jaguars up 14-7. The pair of touchdown receptions for Lewis matched his total from the entire 2009 season.

"This is just how we play," Lewis said. "When you go home and visualize success, this just lets us know that all the hard work that you put in pays off and it's worth it."

After stopping the Broncos on their next possession, Jacksonville tried to take advantage of the heat by imposing their wills in the running game. Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio gambled on a fourth-and-1 situation, but running back Maurice Jones-Drew came up just short, giving Denver the ball on the Jaguars 40-yard line. The Broncos converted their defensive stand into offense as they knotted the game at 14 on a four-play drive that was capped by a Knowshon Moreno one-yard touchdown plunge.

After trading field goal drives, the Jaguars took over on their own 17 and begun the drive that would prove to win the game. After a short pass to Maurice Jones-Drew, Broncos defensive tackle Ryan McBean was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, cookie jar being the star running back's face mask. After a pair of Maurice Jones-Drew eight-yard runs, McBean was flagged again for another personal foul. Jones-Drew finished with 98 yards rushing on 23 carries. Jacksonville stuck with the ground attack until they forced the Broncos to bring an eighth man in the box.

"We knew that we could get some good gains up the middle if we could just keep pushing on them and leaning on them," Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said. "Those runs started turning from 3, 4, and then 8, 10 and 15. That's what it's all about."

The Jaguars then took what the defense gave them and David Garrard connected with wide receiver Kassim Osgood on a 24-yard touchdown strike.

"Kassim (Osgood) comes in for one play and catches a touchdown," David Garrard explained.

David Garrard was an ultra-efficient 16 for 21 for 170 yards and three touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of 138.5.

"Dave holds himself to a very high standard," Nwaneri said. "He's worked very hard this offseason and as a team we've raised the bar. Dave performed today. He made great throws and great decisions."

The Jacksonville defense held strong as they held Denver to just three points in the fourth period while terrorizing Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton. Defensive end Aaron Kampman led the team with six quarterback hurries and 1 ½ sacks, while Daryl Smith paced the Jaguars with seven tackles and sealed the game with an interception on the Broncos final drive.

"I think we did well against the run making them one dimensional," Kampman explained. "That gave us the opportunity to rush and the rush and the coverage worked together."

The Jaguars took the game to the Broncos and the team from the Rocky Mountain area wilted in the extreme heat in the second half.

"It was hot out there," Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said. "We knew that we could use that to our advantage. As the game goes on, those guys could really feel the wear and tear and throughout the game we could really feel it."

Broncos backup quarterback Tim Tebow played three plays and rushed two times for two yards, while Jaguars rookie defensive tackle Tyson Alualu finished with three tackles and a sack. The Jaguars will put their perfect record on the line as they travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers next Sunday.

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