The crowd in attendance enjoyed a picture perfect 75 degree afternoon, and the home team gave them plenty to cheer about. It appeared to be over almost immediately after it started for Oakland, as the Jaguars held the Raiders to a three and out on their first offensive series, then scored on their first offensive play, on a 62 yard touchdown run by Fred Taylor. It would only get uglier for Oakland, as the Jaguars ended up scoring touchdowns on four of their first five drives, and realistically put the game away by the end of the first quarter.
It was difficult to tell if the Jaguars were completely unstoppable on both sides of the ball, or if the Raiders were just completely inept and had given up on the season. Jacksonville set a regular season record by scoring seven touchdowns and 49 points total, while their defense completely shut down Oakland until the final seconds of the game when they scored their only meaningless touchdown and two point conversion against a majority of Jaguars defensive backups.
Offensively, the Jaguars were dominant again on the ground against the hapless Oakland Raiders defense as they recorded 201 yards rushing. The Jacksonville ground attack was led once again by Pro-Bowl running back Fred Taylor who is peaking toward the end of the regular season. Taylor went over 100 yards rushing for the fifth consecutive game as he finished with 111 yards on just seven carries, including his game opening 62 yard touchdown scamper. Taylor averaged a near-amazing 15.9 yards per carry. Taylor's backup, Maurice Jones-Drew had another solid game as he ran for 44 yards on 10 carries, including a 14 yard touchdown run. Jones-Drew led all Jaguars receivers with six receptions for 96 yards.
Through the air, Jaguars quarterback David Garrard was efficient as he completed 11 of 18 passes for 199 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, in a little more than one half of work. Garrard finished with a passer rating of 113.0. Reggie Williams caught three passes for 49 yards including a nine yard touchdown pass. Williams touchdown was his ninth of the season which set a new Jaguars franchise record.
The Jaguars defense may have been even more dominant than their offense as they harassed Raiders quarterbacks Josh McCown and JaMarcus Russell all day long. The Jaguars defense forced four turnovers, three coming from JaMarcus Russell interceptions and a fumble recovery. Jacksonville also sacked Oakland quarterbacks four times and had countless quarterback pressures against a Raiders offensive line that was severely outclassed. The Jacksonville defense allowed Oakland just three third down conversions in 15 attempts, and held the Raiders to just 215 total yards of offense.
The Jaguars were led in tackles by linebacker Justin Durant and Sammy Knight who each registered eight stops. Defensive end Bobby McCray had his second consecutive solid game as he had two tackles to go along with a pair of sacks. Terry Cousin, Jamal Fudge, and Reggie Nelson each had an interception of the Raiders rookie signal caller, JaMarcus Russell.
It was a picture perfect day of celebrations and records in Jacksonville, as the Jaguars clinched their second trip to the playoff in the last three years. Something seems different about this impending playoff run. What appears different about this trip to the playoffs is that it seems as if the Jaguars are playing their best football this millennium, and don't appear content just to "be there." Fred Taylor summed it up best--
"I feel a lot more confident in this team. The guys who went to New England (two years ago) still have that sour taste in their mouths."
With this victory over the 4-11 Oakland Raiders, the Jaguars bettered their record to 11-4, and have afforded themselves the luxury of being able to rest some starters in a meaningless game next Sunday at Houston. It appears as if the Jaguars will likely have to make a return trip to Pittsburgh for the first round of the playoffs the weekend of January 5th and 6th.
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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