Jaguars bounce back, beat Packers 21-13

The Jacksonville Jaguars' reserves rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit to send the Green Bay Packers to their first setback of the preseason Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

In the latest dress rehearsal for the regular season, the scoreboard only tells half of the story about the Green Bay Packers' performance and preparation for the regular season. The Packers lost the battle but are making progress in the war, otherwise known as the 2007 season.

Jacksonville's reserves out-scored the Packers' reserves 21-3 in the second half for a 21-13 victory in front of a Bishop's Charities Game crowd of 69,268 Thursday night at Lambeau Field. But in the first half, which featured most of the players who will be on their respective rosters in early September, the Packers played well again in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams - while taking a 10-0 lead.

"I think we're getting better each week and that's what's important," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, whose team fell to 2-1 in the preseason. "I think there's growth throughout our football team. I think if you look at all three phases that you can point to things that are improving. … I think they're improving all the time. I'm never going to be satisfied till we win them all. We're further ahead than we were last week, that's all I can tell ya."

Despite Green Bay's poor second half, defensive end Larry Birdine recovered a Jaguars' fumble with 1:49 left in the game at the Packers' 18. But any chance of a comeback was thwarted when third-string quarterback Ingle Martin was intercepted by linebacker Brian Iwuh, who ran 24 yards for a touchdown and the final score with 48 seconds left in the game.

"It always feels good to win," said Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio. "We got a big play at the end. (Brian) Iwuh made a nice play to score a touchdown and put the game away. In the second half, I thought our pass rush with the back up guys really came on. I think four of the five sacks we had came in the second half."

Jacksonville (2-1) had 215 yards of offense in the second half compared to 97 in the first half. Jaguars starting quarterback Byron Leftwich was 6 of 16 for 60 yards and played into the third quarter before he was replaced. Meanwhile, the Packers were held to 57 yards of offense in the second half compared to 204 in the first half.

Rookie wide receiver James Jones caught a team-high six passes for 80 yards in the first half, including three straight in a touchdown drive, as Green Bay's first-team offense behind Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers took a 10–0 lead. While the offense put points on the board late in the half, Green Bay's first- and second-team defenses held the Jaguars in check, including two stops on fourth down conversions. Jacksonville was 0-4 on third down conversions and held to six first downs compared to Green Bay's 12.

"We're doing well," said middle linebacker Nick Barnett. "The defense is playing like we're supposed to. We need to cause some turnovers and score on defense. But I think we're still doing fine the way we were. We still let them get them a couple plays on us. We're rolling, we just have to continue to keep rolling and do what we do."

Brandon Jackson's 1-yard plunge for a touchdown with 22 seconds left in the second quarter highlighted a 73-yard drive. Rodgers completed six passes in the march, including three straight to Jones for gains of 23, 11 and 14 yards as the Packers moved to the Jaguars' 12. Perhaps most impressive of Rodgers' completions was his 11-yard pass to Jackson on third and 10 that moved Green Bay to the 1. Rodgers was under heavy pressure by Jaguars defensive end Rob Meier before releasing the ball at the last second to Jackson in the right flat.

Favre, who completed 14 of 20 passes for 130 yards in three series of action, completed seven consecutive passes in a 76-yard drive that resulted in Dave Rayner's 22-yard field goal to give the Packers a 3-0 lead with 5:20 left in the second quarter. Favre's strike to tight end Bubba Franks, who caught the pass in stride and bulled his way for extra yards over safety Gerald Sensabaugh for a 25-yard gain, ignited the drive. Favre hit tight end Donald Lee over the middle for a 20-yard pickup before finding Greg Jennings for 14 yards to the Jags' 18. Favre completed passes to seven different receivers in the drive, including a three-yarder to Jackson to the 4, but on third and goal from the 4, defensive end Reggie Hayward deflected Favre's pass and forced Green Bay to settle for a field goal.

"We got in the red zone and had a chance for a touchdown on that last play," said Favre. "The ball got tipped. We got ourselves in position to score. We made some plays, but we still have a lot of work to do."

Rodgers played all of the third quarter before giving way to Ingle Martin, who played the fourth quarter. Rodgers finished 6 of 9 passing for 82 yards. Martin completed 2 of 3 passes for 6 yards and appears headed toward the NFL's unemployment line.

While Jackson was held to 20 yards on 11 carries against a tough Jaguars run defense, free agent Corey White turned in the most impressive performance among Green Bay's running backs by rushing 11 times for 60 yards (5.5 yard avg. per carry). White, a longshot to make the 53-man roster, carried eight times for 52 yards in a drive that produced Mason Crosby's 38-yard field goal to close the Packers to 14-13 midway through the fourth quarter.

Green Bay's second-team offense struggled behind Rodgers in the third quarter against the Jaguars. The Packers were forced to punt on all three of its third-quarter possessions and did not get a first down.

"He (Rodgers) had some tough sledding in the third quarter," McCarthy said. "He had a pass protection breakdown on every single series. I was pleased with the way he handled it. I think the game has really slowed down for him. He's in control in the huddle and in control of his decisions."


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