Jaguars Inside Slant

The Jaguars are starting to get the national recognition that has eluded them for so long. They have been off the national radar screen in the last decade because they've won only one playoff game. But now there is a buzz about the Jaguars around the NFL Monday after they pulled off what is likely to be remembered as the biggest play of the 2010 season.



Mike Thomas' catch Sunday of a Hail Mary pass on the final play that Houston's Glover Quin tried to knock down but batted it into his hands was the talk of the league.

ESPN flew Thomas to its Bristol, Conn., headquarters and featured him on six different shows Monday to talk about the play and the Jaguars 31-24 victory.

And the NFL Network will show a 75-minute condensed version of the game at 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

Coach Jack Del Rio was subdued Monday and already looking forward to the Cleveland game next Sunday, but he said he was emotional Sunday.

Del Rio said he was ready to join in the celebration.

"I was heading to the pile, man," he said. "I was going to the pile, man I got intercepted by the official who told me that we had to kick the extra point. What a bummer," he said.

The Jaguars actually got a penalty for excessive celebration, but since the game was over, it was not enforced.

Del Rio also talked about how moments like Sunday is what makes sports and the NFL such an exciting experience.

"One thing about sports is that it can come down to such a dramatic finish one way or the other. There's no question you're alive. You feel it. Your heart is beating. It's a here now or never type moment. There is something about the exhilaration you feel as a player, as a coach to be part of that right there. I'm hooked on it. I love it. People that follow this league, that's part of what you like about this league. You get those moments," he said.

The victory put the 5-4 Jaguars into a second-place tie with Tennessee, one game behind the 6-3 Colts.

As they head to the 10-game mark, they are still very much alive in the division race.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The way Glover Quin batted the Hail Mary pass to Mike Thomas may make coaches think about how they defend passes.

Quin could have tried to catch the ball and even if he dropped it, the ball probably would have fallen harmlessly to the ground.

But Quin did what he was taught, batted the ball and it went right into Thomas' arms.

Now coaches may have to take a second look at whether they should tell players to bat the ball down.

"It's being reevaluated right now," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said as he laughed.

"There's definitely a time to knock it down. That means knock it down, get it down (instead of batting into the hand of an offensive player). Sometimes those coaches' rules that you have are reexamined like fourth-and-1 used to mean punt all the time," he said.

Of coaches telling players to bat the ball down, he said, "Quite honestly it has always been (taught) as long as I've been a part of this league. It's been knock it down. (But) Rod Woodson never knocked it down. He caught the ball every time. I think when you have guys with good hands, you typically say, Hey, go catch that ball. That will cause some people around the league to reevaluate. I would think we will talk about it, Del Rio said.

--The interesting thing about the Hail Mary pass is that the Jaguars don't really practice the play. Del Rio said it's also standard procedure for all teams he's been a part of not to practice the play.

They just have the players run down the field to be in their right positions, but they don't jump and David Garrard doesn't heave the ball. They do it during their Saturday morning walk through when they aren't in pads.

Del Rio said he doesn't have the players jump because he doesn't want to risk a sprained ankle and, "I don't want our quarterback to chuck the ball 60 yards on a Saturday morning."

He said they spend time teaching the players their assignments on that play.

"There is a lot of teaching, understanding where you belong what your responsibility is," he said.

The Jaguars want Marcedes Lewis to catch the ball or tip the ball to Mike Thomas although Quin wound up hitting the ball to Thomas.

"He did my job for me," Lewis said.

Lewis was held as he was going down the field and Del Rio said there was "major interference" on the play.

"Anybody who watched that play could see there was a lot of pushing and shoving," he said but there were no flags.

--Coach Jack Del Rio had one other option on the final play besides the Hail Mary pass. He could have sent out Josh Scobee, who had his first two misses of the year earlier in the game, to try a 67-yard field goal, which would have smashed Tom Dempsey's 63-yard league record.

Del Rio said he thought about it and then decided to go with the Hail Mary.

"I didn't think that was realistic (a 67-yarder)," Del Rio said.

"I thought there was a better shot at a Hail Mary being executed at that particular time. I didn't think either one was impossible. I don't think it was impossible to make that kick. I just think it was less likely than the one we got, which also was not real likely," he said.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--QB David Garrard, who completed his last 14 passes in the Houston game, has been plagued by inconsistency in the past but has now played two good games in a row against the Cowboys and Texans. The Jaguars hope he is ready to get on a roll.

--P Adam Podlesh was praised by coach Jack Del Rio for his directional punting. He said he doesn't let his ego for stats stop him from sacrificing yards for hang time so they get good coverage. He is averaging a net of 38.3 yards and has dropped 14 punts inside the 20.

--CB Rashean Mathis has been struggling and has had only one interception this year. He had problems covering Andre Johnson and coach Jack Del Rio said it wasn't one of his better games.

--TE Zach Miller is starting to make an impact as a backup tight end and caught four passes for 79 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown play.

REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- David Garrard had another good day with a 134.1 passer rating including touchdown passes of 52 yards to Zach Miller and the 50-yard Hail Mary play. He completed his last 14 passes.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Maurice Jones-Drew had his second 100-yard game in a row after having only one in the first seven games. He had exactly 100 yards on 24 runs although he slowed down in the second half when he had only 23 yards in nine attempts.

PASS DEFENSE: D-minus -- The Jaguars secondary survived the first half when the Texans scored only three points, but Matt Schaub threw for two touchdowns in the second half and wound up with 314 yards. The secondary continues to be porous.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus -- This run defense was solid, holding the league's top rusher, Arian Foster, to 56 yards in 15 carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- Even though Josh Scobee missed his first two kicks of the year, Adam Podlesh's punting pinned the Texans back on their 11 and 12 on consecutive series in the second quarter and helped the defense contain the Texans early.

COAHING: B plus -- Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter pushed the right buttons as the Jaguars racked up 491 total yards and head coach Jack Del Rio had them ready to play a game they couldn't afford to lose.


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