Jaguars are all business in second half
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As the Jaguars trudged into their locker room down 10 points at halftime, Maurice Jones-Drew called an impromptu meeting.
Jacksonville responded even better to his motivational speech than the running back planned.
David Garrard, Rashad Jennings, and Jones-Drew led a barrage of big plays — just enough to offset Darren McFadden’s huge day — and the Jaguars beat the Oakland Raiders, 38-31, yesterday in a wild game that featured six touchdowns of at least 30 yards.
Jones-Drew’s halftime words left an impression, but not because of the tenor, tone, or timing.
“It meant something because it came from him,’’ receiver Mike Sims-Walker said. “He’s not a talkative guy, a loud person. But he felt like we were letting the game slip away by doing things we don’t normally do. He gave us some words and we listened. We came out and fed off it.’’
The Jaguars (8-5) won for the first time in franchise history when giving up more than 30 points and overcame a halftime deficit for the first time since Oct. 18, 2009, against St. Louis. This one was significant. It gave Jacksonville five wins in its last six games and set up a critical AFC South showdown at Indianapolis next week.
Jacksonville is a game ahead of the Colts and can clinch the division next week with a victory and a loss by Houston.
The Raiders (6-7) lost for the third time in four weeks to fade from postseason contention.
McFadden did his part to keep Oakland in the game. He had a 67-yard TD reception, a 51-yard scoring run, and a 36-yard gain that tied the game at 31 with 1:53 remaining.
But rookie Deji Karim returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards, and Jones-Drew went untouched on the next play for a 30-yard score. It gave Jones-Drew 101 yards rushing, his sixth straight game in triple digits.
The Raiders had a final chance and moved the ball into Jacksonville territory. But Jeremy Mincey ended the threat by sacking Jason Campbell.
Garrard completed 11 of 22 passes for 159 yards and tied Mark Brunell’s franchise record with his 20th TD pass of the season. Jennings carried five times for 109 yards.
The Raiders dominated the first half, outscoring the Jaguars, 17-7, and gaining twice as many yards.
But Jacksonville turned things around with three touchdowns in the third quarter. Garrard threw a perfect deep pass to Jason Hill for a 48-yard score, Jennings ripped off a 74-yard TD run, and then Garrard found Sims-Walker in the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score.
The biggest play came after Jennings’s scamper. Rookie Jacoby Ford fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Jaguars great field position and all the momentum. Garrard and Sims-Walker then hooked up on third and goal.
Jacksonville’s 31 points in the second half were the second most in team history.
“Heck of game, just too many big plays defensively,’’ Raiders coach Tom Cable said. “The turnover on the kickoff return was big.’’
The Jaguars looked as though they would seal the victory with defense. But Will Middleton’s helmet-to-helmet contact on Campbell negated a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Kyle Boller briefly replaced Campbell and threw an interception.
McFadden finished with 123 yards rushing, 86 yards receiving, and three scores.