Jaguars Headed Home

The Jaguars proved they can win on the road this year by winning their last two games in Denver and Kansas City. The Jaguars, who were 2-6 on the road last year, are now 2-0 on the road this year after their 17-7 victory over the Chiefs last Sunday.

Now they come home to face the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts in a pair of critical division games that will determine whether they have a shot at winning the division title. Their only loss this year was a home division loss to Tennessee in the opener. The Jaguars are tied with the Titans for second place in the AFC South at 3-1 while Indianapolis is at 5-0. The Texans are 3-2, but they swept the Jaguars last year and those two losses cost them a playoff spot. Indianapolis has a bye this week before they come to Jacksonville the following week for a Monday night game. They need a victory over the Texans to stay within one game of the Colts and have a shot at tying the Colts for first place by upsetting them.

One thing the Jaguars have going for them is they have rediscovered their run defense. After giving up 282 yards on the ground to the Titans in the opener, they allowed the Kansas City Chiefs just 10 net yards on the ground Sunday. They held running back Larry Johnson to just 12 yards on nine carries while Michael Bennett lost two yards in one carry. The ability of the Jaguars to stop Johnson was the key to their 17-7 victory Sunday.

"We knew No. 27 was going to be the main guy," cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "We knew if we stopped him, they'd have a long day. That's what makes them tick. If he gets going, it can be a long day for us. They couldn't beat us throwing the ball."

Johnson ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the season finale last year when the Jaguars lost to the Chiefs, 35-30. And then their run defense was shredded by the Titans in the opener this year. But the Jaguars improved their run defense in the second and third games, giving up 82 yards on the ground to the Falcons and 47 yards to the Broncos. Then they forced the Chiefs to virtually abandon the run. Mathis said the key was "just us playing our style of football." He added, "We were reading our keys and being disciplined and trying to not make other people's run but making our own plays."

The Jaguars would have had a shutout if backup quarterback Brodie Croyle, who came on in the fourth quarter when Damon Huard was knocked out of the game on a hit by Bobby McCray, hadn't floated a touchdown pass on the final play of the game to Samie Parker. The ball went over Mathis' head even though he jumped for it.

"I thought I had the interception. The ball was wobbling in the air and I thought it was going to drop, but it kept floating on me. Overall, it was a shutout for our defense. I wanted that more than anything," Mathis said.

Of the defense's improvement since the opener, defensive end Paul Spicer said, "Don't forget our prior two games. We got better and we're getting better. We're going to become the most dominating defense in the NFL." Spicer said the problem in the opener was that the Jaguars didn't play sound defense.

"When you've got an unsound defense, you looked like you know what. When you have a sound defense, you look like we did today," he said.

Spicer noted that it helps that the Jaguars are healthy.

"I'm tired of the media always saying somebody this, somebody that (is hurting). No, we're healthy. We're loving it right now. We have a lot of fun playing football. We're having a good time," he said.

PLAYER NOTES

    --QB David Garrard became the first Jaguar quarterback to not throw an interception in his first four games and became the second Jaguar quarterback to have a quarterback rating of over 100 in three consecutive games when he had a 109.8 quarterback rating in the 17-7 victory over the Chiefs.

    --RB Maurice Jones-Drew had a 52-yard touchdown run and gained 82 yards on nine carries in the 17-7 victory over the Chiefs.

    --P Adam Podlesh, who struggled in his first three games and was ranked 28th with a 38.6-yard average, averaged 45.0 yards against the Chiefs and dropped three inside the 20.

    --WR Dennis Northcutt leads the team with 15 catches after having four catches against the Chiefs.

    --DE Bobby McCray tipped a third down pass to end the Chiefs' first drive and knocked Damon Huard out in the fourth quarter on a play when Huard threw an interception.


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