Jaguars Have Lost Their Christmas Magic

There's something about Christmas that doesn't agree with the Jaguars. Two years ago it was Houston shutting them out to put their playoff hopes on hold. This year it was the Patriots ruining the holiday. With Jacksonville's record of only one playoff appearance in 4 years - a loss to New England last season -- the Jaguars appear to be missing the Christmas magic. Is all hope gone with the loss?

The Jaguars and Christmas don't seem to go well together.

Two years ago, they lost a home game the day after Christmas to Houston, 21-0, that dropped their record to 8-7 and ultimately cost them a playoff berth even though they beat Oakland in their last game to finish 9-7.

Last Sunday on Christmas Eve, they lost a home game to New England, 24-21, to fall to 8-7 and they'll likely be eliminated from the playoff race even if they beat Kansas City in their finale to finish at 9-7 again.

Besides beating Kansas City, the Jaguars need Cincinnati to beat Pittsburgh, Tennessee to beat New England and if the Jets beat Miami on Christmas night, they'd need the Dolphins to lose to the Raiders.

That's a four pack that the Jaguars are unlikely to get so they'll likely be out of the playoffs for the second time in three years and coach Jack Del Rio will go into his fifth season next year looking for his first playoff win.

The Jaguars are in this fix because they lost control of their own destiny with the loss to the New England Patriots last Sunday.

Even Del Rio, who tends to be optimistic and positive, couldn't hide his frustration with this one.

"I just told them there are no words I can give them that will make them feel better. There is pain and there's hurt that's there. I want them to enjoy Christmas with their families and come back Wednesday ready to go to work," he said.

He added, "Until I'm told we're out, I'm going to keep hope alive."

But their hopes are faint after they were dominated by the Patriots, who had a 22-12 edge in first downs and a 37:13-22:47 edge in time of possession.

The game wasn't as close as the score sounded. They got one touchdown when Maurice Drew bounced off Kyle Brady and hit the ground. The Patriots neglected to touch him and Drew got up and ran 74 yards for a touchdown. They got another touchdown after a roughing the passer penalty wiped out an interception.

Tom Brady was very patient against their defense as he spread the Jaguars run defense out with four- and five-receiver sets and then threw underneath.

Brady had an eight-play, 38-yard drive for a field goal and touchdown drives of 82 yards in 14 plays, 78 yards in seven plays and 68 yards in six plays.

David Garrard, by contrast, had a 113.5 quarterback rating, but couldn't sustain drives because he got only 12 first downs and he was guilty of a killer fumble for the second straight. The Titans returned a third period for fumble for a touchdown last week and the Jaguars were at their 45 with 1:55 left when Garrard fumbled while scrambling and the Patriots recovered to end the game.

The Jaguars argued to no avail that his arm was moving forward, but the call wasn't overturned.

The Jaguars started the season 2-0, which gave them 15 wins in 19 games. But they're 6-7 since then.

Finishing 9-7 two years ago was a step up from a 5-11 record in 2003. Even if they beat the Chiefs to go 9-7, it'd be a step back from last year's 12-4 regular season mark, which now seems misleading because they beat seven losing teams while going 7-1 in the second half of the year.

It's likely to be a long offseason for the Jaguars as they try to figure out what went wrong.

Player News:

--QB David Garrard had a 113.5 quarterback rating as he passed for 195 yards, but he got only 12 first downs and fumbled to end the Jaguars' last drive.
--RB Maurice Drew, who started because Fred Taylor was injured, ran for 131 yards on 19 carries and had six catches for 41 yards. He had a 74-yard touchdown run when he hit the ground and got up and started running to the end zone when the Patriots failed to touch him.
--RB Fred Taylor sat out the game with a hamstring injury and said he doesn't know if he can play in the season finale.
--WR Matt   Jones caught four passes for 69 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown catch, after his toughness was questioned when he failed to make a tackle in Tennessee after an interception.
--S Deon Grant suffered a hamstring injury in the third period. It's uncertain if he'll be able to play against Kansas City.


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