Dolphins Edge Jaguars, 18-17

The Miami Dolphins scored 15 unanswered points in the second half to notch an 18-17 victory over the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars before an announced crowd of 71,399 people, mostly dressed as empty seats.

The game winning drive for the Dolphins came when rookie quarterback John Beck was behind center, and he led the team on an 11 play, 69 yard drive for the go ahead touchdown, after Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron decided to go for a two-point conversion to avoid overtime. The Dolphins handed the ball to Patrick Cobbs from inside the Jaguars three yard line, and he scored easily to cut the Miami defecit to 17-16. The Dolphins ran the identical play on the two-point conversion and the result was the same, and the Dolphins took their first lead of the game, 18-17 with 5:08 left to play. The Jaguars had one more opportunity, and drove the ball downfield behind fifth string quarterback, Lester Ricard, all the way to the Dolphins 22 yard line with under a minute remaining. The Jaguars ran the ball three times, and then trotted out kicker Josh Scobee for a 42-yard field goal attempt, which he pushed wide right and the Dolphins secured their first preseason victory of the season.

"It looked as though he pushed the ball, but I haven't spoken with him yet. It makes the plane ride home a little more fun," Coach Del Rio joked.

Even though the final score shows the Jaguars losing, the team had plenty of positives. The Jaguars defense was downright nasty, as the starters played just two possessions, and allowed just 16 yards and no first downs to the Dolphins offensive starters. The Jaguars second team defense was effective as well against Trent Green and the Dolphins, as they allowed just three first downs, and three points on a drive that came on a short field from a Jacksonville turnover. Overall, the Jaguars defense allowed the Miami offensive starters just 66 yards in an entire half of football.

Offensively, the Jaguars starters played fairly well, although there were some protection problems early on. Quarterback Byron Leftwich was sharp, hitting on 7 of 10 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback David Garrard connected on 12 of 16 passes for 153 yards. The leading receiver for the Jaguars was rookie seventh round pick, John Broussard who had three receptions for 66 yards. Also having solid performances were rookie Mike Walker, who caught three balls for 30 yards, Ernest Wilford who caught two passes for 29 yards, and defensive back Bruce Thornton, who had three tackles and an interception. James Wyche chipped in with three tackles, a sack, and forced fumble, and Brian Iwuh led the team with four tackles. The Jaguars kick and punt coverage teams were impressive, as they allowed Dolphins rookie speedster Ted Ginn, to less than 20 yards per kickoff return.

With the good there is always the bad, especially when you lose the game. Two thumbs down to LaBrandon Toefield, who didn't help his cause for a roster spot at all, as he lost two fumbles. The offensive line struggled for much of the night with pass protection, as they allowed the Dolphins five sacks. Matt Jones had his typical uneven performance, as he caught two passes for 43 yards, and also dropped a perfectly thrown ball, and failed to look back on another. The Jaguars third team defense couldn't stop the run effectively, which ultimately was the cause for the defeat. Jaguars rookie punter Adam Podlesh finished with a very solid 46.2 yards per punt average, but couldn't keep a single punt from being downed inside the 20. Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee finished with no touchbacks, and missed a potential game-winning kick. Quarterback Tim Couch who played in his first game in three years, looked like he hasn't played football in three years. His numbers didn't look horrible, 2/4, 11 yards, but he didn't seem to have much field presence and his throws weren't very sharp. Although Jaguars quarterback Quinn Gray didn't play in tonight's game, he probably moved himself up in the depth chart with Couch's performance.

Overall, there was a lot to like about the game if you're a Jaguars fan. The defense absolutely dominated Miami's starting offense throughout the first half, even long after the Jaguars defensive starters sat down for the evening. The starting offense scored seven points in three possessions against the Miami starting defense, and the Jaguars rookies played well for the most part- Broussard, Walker, Nelson, Durant, and Gattis. The most likely mission for the Jaguars will be to iron out their pass protection, as well as their tackling by the defensive backups, before next Saturday's preseason match-up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.


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