Jaguars Steal the Buc Booty 24-23

The Jaguars escaped from Tampa with a 24-23 victory to better their record to 5-2, tied for second place in the ultra-competitive AFC South. Despite being outgained 385-219, the Jaguars used a few big plays on defense to keep themselves in the game and ultimately secure the victory.

The Jacksonville defense forced Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia into his first, second, and third interceptions of the season, and Aaron Glenn returned one of those picks back 28 yards for a touchdown, in his first game as a Jaguar.

Offensively, the running game was the order of the day for the Jaguars, who were playing with the inexperienced Quinn Gray at quarterback, as the Jaguars rushed 44 times versus just 16 pass attempts. The Jaguars threw the ball only when necessary as Quinn Gray was erratic for most of the game. Gray's final statistics were 7/16, for just 100 yards, and one touchdown. Gray's rating was 85.4, but he didn't play as well as that number would suggest.

On the ground, the Jaguars pounded out 133 yards on those 43 attempts, led by Fred Taylor who gained 68 yards on 24 rushes. Maurice Jones-Drew, who didn't practice during the week with a knee injury, gained 48 yards on just 10 carries. LaBrandon Toefield saw his first action of the year, and carried the ball six times for 12 tough yards, including a first half touchdown.

The Jaguars receiving game was obviously dormant for much of the game, being that Quinn Gray completed just seven passes. Matt Jones caught his first touchdown pass of the season which put the Jaguars up for good, on a fade pattern in which he turned and made a fantastic one-handed catch. In true Matt Jones fashion, he dropped two other passes that were thrown his way. Greg Estandia led the team with one 30-yard reception, which came in the second quarter.

The Jaguars defense bent but didn't break for much of the day, as they caused Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia to misfire early and often. Garcia finished with 19 completions in 41 attempts, for 267 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for a passer rating of 45.5, his lowest rating of the season. The Jaguars defense was led by Aaron Glenn, who finished with four tackles and one interception, which he returned 28 yards for a touchdown. Sammy Knight, Rashean Mathis, Mike Peterson, and Reggie Nelson all chipped in with five tackles each, and Rob Meier and Marcus Stroud combined for two sacks. Mathis also made the play that saved the game for the Jaguars, when he knocked the football out of Tampa Bay wide receiver Ike Hilliard's hands on the final play from scrimmage for the Bucs. Sammy Knight and Reggie Nelson each came up with interceptions to go along with their five tackles.

Overall, the Jaguars appeared to steal a victory on Sunday afternoon. The won a game in which they were outgained by nearly a 2-1 margin, let Tampa Bay receivers streak by the Jaguars defensive backs consistently, and had no resemblance of a passing game. The Jaguars did force three Tampa turnovers, and were resilient enough to leave Hillsborough county with a much needed victory in their first of three consecutive road games. The 5-2 Jaguars take on the 3-4 New Orleans Saints next week at the Louisiana Superdome. The Saints come in to the game winners of three straight, and have seemed to have righted their ship. The Jaguars will have their hands full again if they are going to leave the Bayou with their undefeated road record in tact.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.


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