The loss showed many why the 2009 version of the Jaguars were anything but a playoff team, as Jacksonville found themselves with a franchise record 28-0 halftime deficit. A simple three-word phrase by Jaguars leading receiver Mike Sims-Walker said all anyone needed to know about the game.
"That was embarrassing,"said the Jags receiver who had just two catches for 19 yards.
Offensively, the Jaguars were the definition of one-dimensional. The Patriots stacked up the line of scrimmage to stop running back Maurice Jones-Drew, and quarterback David Garrard could not make New England pay for doing so.
Garrard completed 19 of his 25 throws for 184 yards, showing very good accuracy on underneath patterns. Unfortunately, the Jaguars quarterback's two interceptions destroyed momentum, and the one near the goal line had many suspecting if Garrard would be benched. Ironically, Garrard's garbage time rushing touchdown in the beginning of the fourth period was the first points the Jags have scored in the fourth quarter in nearly five games.
"They're (Patriots) too good to make mistakes like that and not capitalize on them," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said.
The disparity in quarterback play in this game was just another factor that shows the Jaguars must improve at that position if they're going to be anything more than mediocre.
Defensively, the Jaguars had no answer for Tom Brady. Brady completed 23 of 26 passes for 267 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 149.0. In his last two games against the Jaguars, Brady amazingly has more touchdown passes (seven) than incompletions (five).
"It's not hard to look at them and see how they're going to try and attack people," Del Rio said of the Patriots game plan. "Today with the problems we've had in pass defense it was pretty obvious how they were going to attack us."
The Jaguars and their 31st ranked pass defense have no business being in the playoffs, and the pass rush that they were desperately seeking following the team's last playoff loss in New England is nowhere to be found. Jacksonville is last in the NFL in sacks with just 14 on the season, and they have recorded just one sack in five games against winning teams.
"Our Achilles heel all year long has been our inability to harass the quarterback, and if you can't harass one of the top quarterbacks in the game then you're going to have trouble," Del Rio said of his non-existent pass rush.
Would the playoffs have really accomplished much aside from some additional frequent flyer miles for the Jaguars this season? It's not likely. Jacksonville is currently 2-5 on the road and they've yet to defeat a team with a winning record.
Jaguars fans should enjoy this season for what it was which was an extended player evaluation period. The rookie class was very good and now we know which positions the Jaguars must upgrade entering 2010.
"We've given ourselves an opportunity to get in the hunt," the Jaguars head coach said. "We had a chance to stay in the hunt after Christmas but we weren't good enough to get it done. The amount of commitment, the amount of effort, the amount of energy, those are good things that we don't want to lose sight of."
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