JAGUARS REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS
PASSING OFFENSE: C -- David Garrard had an eye-popping 113.5 passer rating, but that was misleading because he converted only five third downs and couldn't sustain drives. He also had another killer fumble at the end of the game that ruined the team's comeback bid.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The numbers were better than the performance against a Patriots defense was stacked to stop the run. Maurice Drew rushed for 131 yards, but 74 of them came on one play when he ran into Kyle Brady and fell to the ground, but the Patriots failed to touch him when he was down.
PASS DEFENSE: D -- Tom Brady conducted his usual offensive clinic as the Patriots often used four- and five-receiver sets to spread out the Jaguars defense. Brady kept finding the open receiver underneath. He threw passes to 11 receivers and kept the Jaguars off balance the entire game.
RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Patriots ran just enough to keep the Jaguars off balance and compliment the passing game. They ran for 117 yards, including 31 by Brady on 10 carries.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Josh Scobee was wide right on a 53-yard attempt in the third period, a miss that cost them a shot at overtime. And Chris Hanson, bothered with a sore hamstring, averaged just 38.8 yards per punt.
COACHING: C -- The lesson for the Jaguars is that they didn't do enough in the offseason to add some zip to their pop-gun offense, which kept the ball for only 22:47 Sunday because it couldn't sustain drives. The schemes don't make any difference against the Patriots. In the playoffs last year, they stressed the pass. This time, they had good balance between the pass and the run, but it wasn't good enough. They need better offensive players.
PATRIOTS REPORT CARD VS. JAGUARS
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- QB Tom Brady dissected the Jaguars defense. He finished the day 28-for-39 yards for 249 yards and a touchdown. Brady was sacked only once, as the offensive line kept Jaguars pass rushers out of his face. Even when Brady was pressured, he was able to move around in the pocket and buy some extra time. Eleven receivers had a reception in the Patriots' short passing attack. Some of Brady's throws were off target, but his receivers made a few good grabs. Rookie TE David Thomas had a breakout game filling in for the injured Ben Watson, catching five passes for 83 yards. Daniel Graham chipped in with three receptions for 44 yards, as the tight ends really hurt the Jaguars defense in this game.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- RB Laurence Maroney broke off a crucial 27-yard run late in the game, but other than that, Tom Brady was the Patriots' most effective runner on the day. Brady and Corey Dillon both ran the ball 10 times, with Brady totaling 31 yards to Dillon's 30. That's not good. Maroney led the Patriots with 48 yards on the ground and a 6.9-yard average. New England needs the rookie to step up and take over the running game in the postseason. The Patriots were stuffed on some short-yardage plays and never really got anything consistent going on the ground, even though they were having success through the air.
PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- QB David Garrard had a good day numbers-wise, but the Patriots shut down Jacksonville's passing attack until late in the game. Garrard finished 17-for-23 for 195 yards and posted a passer rating of 113.5. However, most of his completions were short -- especially on third downs -- forcing the Jaguars to give up the football. The Patriots only recorded one sack but were able to get constant pressure off the edges, forcing Garrard to step up in the pocket. The Jaguars really had a conservative game plan. They threw just two passes over 20 yards, completing both. Garrard hit Ernest Wilford on a 41-yard reception to set up a touchdown and connected with Matt Jones for a 33-yard score late in the fourth quarter, beating CB Ellis Hobbs. Instead of challenging the New England corners deep, Garrard dumped the ball off for most of the game, playing right into the Patriots' hands.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- The Patriots defense did a decent job overall controlling Jacksonville's vaunted ground game, although one big mistake almost proved costly. RB Maurice Drew tore off a 74-yard touchdown run when he fell down and got up before a Patriots defender touched him. The New England defense kind of gave up once Drew went down instead of finishing the play. The Jaguars ran for 6.5 yards per carry, led by Drew's 131 yards and two touchdowns. Considering the Patriots didn't have starting NT Vince Wilfork, they held their own. However, Drew ran tough, and the Jaguars will take 144 yards on the ground against a good Patriots defense any day.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Stephen Gostkowski connected on a 48-yard filed goal but missed a 49-yard attempt. Neither team's return game did much of anything. Chris Hanson and the newly signed Todd Sauerbrun both had miserable days punting the football for the most part. Sauerbrun netted 35 yards per punt, while Hanson was just slightly better at 36.4 yards. However, the Patriots get the edge based on Sauerbrun's final kick. With New England backed up and the game on the line, Sauerbrun got off a 42-yard punt, his best effort of the day. It may not have been a booming kick, but a shank in that situation would have set up the Jaguars in great field position and could have cost New England the game.
COACHING: A -- A great game plan by the Patriots coaching staff. They spread out the Jacksonville defense much as they did the Vikings defense. Knowing the Patriots weren't going to be able to run the ball all day with John Henderson and Marcus Stroud in the middle, Bill Belichick had Tom Brady go to the shotgun and use short passes to move the ball down the field. It was the perfect offensive strategy, and it allowed New England to score 24 points on a Jacksonville defense that was averaging giving up only nine points per game at home. Defensively, the Patriots gave up a couple of big plays, but for the most part, they shut down the Jaguars offense. The Patriots stacked the line of scrimmage to stop the run and forced Garrard to beat them with his arm. He couldn't, and the Patriots are AFC East champions once again.