Jaguars Clawing Back

The Jaguars have clawed their way back to .500 after an overtime victory over Houston, but now face a critical part of their schedule that could make or break their season.

They host Pittsburgh next Sunday night and then go to Denver before their bye.

If they at least split the two games, they'll be 3-3 and in good position to go on a playoff run because they'll host Cleveland and then go to Cincinnati and Detroit after the bye.

But if they lose both games, they'll be 2-4 and their chances of getting a playoff berth will be difficult.

They also face a tough test against Pittsburgh even though the Jaguars became the first team ever to beat the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in the same season last year.

That's because they gave up 18 points in the fourth quarter against the Steelers and fell behind before the Jaguars rallied to win, 31-29.

The Jaguars ran for 224 yards in the regular-season victory against the Steelers, but managed only 135, including 58 by David Garrard, in the second game because the Steelers had safety Troy Polamalu coming to the line of scrimmage and shooting the gaps.

The Jaguars, who gave up 50 points in their final five quarters in the playoffs last year, also are having problems with their defense.

They traded up to draft Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves in the first two rounds to improve their pass rush, but the Jaguars didn't sack Matt Schaub once even though he threw 40 times.

"When you're not hitting the quarterback, he can get pretty comfortable back there," Del Rio said. "He's an accurate passer. He's got weapons. If you're draped on him, it's hard to make some of those throws. If you're giving him time and space, he's got a chance to light you up."

The Jaguars have now given up a scoring drive in the last three minutes in all four of their games, but are 2-2 because the offense rallied to win two of them.

"I was upset coming in here (locker room), but the coach gave a speech about enjoying the victory. That's exactly what I'm going to do," middle linebacker Mike Peterson said.

Peterson, though, wasn't in a mood to celebrate because the defense gave up 27 points. Peterson even gathered his teammates together on the sideline for a pep talk at one point, but it didn't make any difference -- which may be why he didn't want to talk about what he said.

"It was for us. I didn't do it for the media. I did it for the guys," he said.

Del Rio said he wasn't going to talk about the defensive problems Sunday.

He said the problems aren't going unnoticed and he'll address them in the future, but added, "We've got to enjoy the victories."

The Jaguars hired Gregg Williams, who was bypassed for the head job in Washington, as their defensive coordinator, to replace Mike Smith, who got the head job in Atlanta.

Williams is doing more blitzing, but the Jaguars still are having trouble putting the heat on the quarterback.

If the Jaguars don't find a way to improve their defense, they may not be enjoying too many more victories.


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