Jaguars Mission Critical Against Indy

When the schedule came out last April, the Jaguars figured the third game at Indianapolis would be critical.

It will be, but not for the reasons they expected.

They thought both teams would be 2-0 and would be battling for the division lead.

The Jaguars went into the season hoping to dethrone the Colts as the division champion.

Instead, the game is a battle for survival after the Jaguars fell to 0-2 with a 20-16 loss to Buffalo following a 17-10 loss to Tennessee in the opener.

What made it particularly frustrating was that that the temperature was 87 degrees, one degree shy of the hottest Jaguars game ever.

The Jaguars should have had an advantage against a team from the north in the hot weather. Instead, the Jaguars built a 16-10 lead and then gave up the final 10 points to lose 20-16.

And they can't afford to fall to 0-3 if they're to have a realistic chance to make the playoffs.

They're now in last place in the AFC South, two games behind the 2-0 Titans and a game behind the 1-1 Colts, who rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat Minnesota last Sunday.

The Jaguars went into the season thinking they were Super Bowl contenders and never imagined they'd start off 0-2.

"That wasn't in the plan," said defensive end Paul Spicer. "But it's here. It's real. We've got to understand that."

And the Colts have won five of their last six games against the Jaguars.

"We definitely have to get pressure on Peyton Manning," Spicer said.

The Jaguars also have several problems. They thought that signing Jerry Porter as a free agent and trading for Troy Williamson would give them a deep threat at receiver.

Instead, they're both injured and neither played against the Bills. It's uncertain if they'll be healthy against the Colts.

They're also playing with a makeshift offensive line because three starters are injured and two of them, guards Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams, are lost for the season.

The result is that David Garrard is having problems at quarterback. Counting three interceptions in the two playoff games last year, he has thrown eight interceptions in his last six games over the past two years.

And the running game is struggling because teams don't worry about their passing game and are selling out to stop the run.

They rushed for only 33 yards in Tennessee and 98 against the Bills, including Garrard's six scrambles for 32 yards.

This was the first time in the regular season since the last two games of the 2004 season that the Jaguars have gone two games in a row without rushing for 100 yards as a team.

Now that teams are concentrating on stopping the run, Fred Taylor has 48, 47, 18 and 49 rushing yards in his last four games, including the two playoff games. Maurice Jones-Drew has 29, 19, 13 and 17.

Coach Jack Del Rio said, "We're going to keep working and that's the only way you can pull yourself out of this type of situation and that's good old-fashioned hard work, attention to detail, working the process, staying the course. I believe in what we're doing."

Now the Jaguars have to show some results.


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