Despite loss, Jaguars still control playoff fate
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)
Despite a 14-10 loss to Miami, the Jacksonville Jaguars still control their postseason fate.
It might only last a few more days.
The Jaguars (7-6) need to upset unbeaten Indianapolis on Thursday night to stay in command of the AFC's final wild-card spot. If not, Jacksonville would need help over the final two weeks to avoid missing the postseason for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons.
``It's the playoffs for us,'' guard Uche Nwaneri said Monday. ``We're in a great situation to still have a hold on what can happen.''
Players thought otherwise Sunday. After the Dolphins snapped Jacksonville's five-game winning streak at Home, the Jaguars believed they no longer had a grip on the wild-card spot. But the league confirmed Sunday evening that there's no scenario in which Jacksonville would miss the playoffs if it wins three in a row.
Jacksonville has the same record as Miami, Baltimore and the New York Jets, but the Jaguars have a better conference record than each of them. Even though the Dolphins would win a head-to-head tiebreaker against Jacksonville, if both clubs win their remaining games, Miami would clinch the AFC East and not be involved in any wild-card scenarios.
``We know that we have to win out,'' Nwaneri said. ``That's really the only way to ensure that we'll be in the playoffs. You don't want to leave it to needing to win this and hope these people lose or these people lose. We control our own fate. We still have that fortunately. It's going to be a tough, three-game season. But this is what you play Football for, for opportunities to force yourself into the playoffs.''
The Jaguars have lost seven of the last nine meetings with the Colts, who insist they will approach Thursday's game the same way they did the previous 13. So quarterback Peyton Manning, receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Dwight Freeney - guys who have given Jacksonville fits in recent years - are expected to play the whole way.
Players said Monday they would prefer to play the Colts at full strength, even though the AFC South champions hold NFL records for consecutive regular-season wins (22) and wins in a decade (114).
``It's not really about them,'' tight end Marcedes Lewis said. ``It's about us and getting back on track. We're anxious to get out there and get this taste out of our mouth. This year, we've been good at bouncing back.''
The Jaguars have rebounded from their last four losses with victories. But those came against Houston (twice), St. Louis and Kansas City. They have considerably less time to regroup from this one, although players said that could be a good thing.
``You can't really get too high or too low because three days later you're playing again,'' Nwaneri said. ``That's going to help. We don't even have the luxury of feeling disappointment after that game for too long. We have to turn around quick. That's going to help get it out of our minds.''
Offensive players would like to forget Sunday's performance.
David Garrard completed just 11 passes and was sacked three times. Maurice Jones-Drew was held to 59 yards rushing on 18 carries. And no receiver caught more than two balls. The offense's lone highlight was a 63-yard completion to Torry Holt on a third-and-13 play in the third quarter. Even then, the Jaguars responded with a delay of game penalty and had to settle for a field goal.
Jacksonville finished with just 217 yards.
``Whenever you stumble like that, our attention to detail is just not good,'' Lewis said. ``It's on us as an offense. The defense went out there and played its heart out. It's on us to go out there and win the game when it's on the line.''
With the offense sputtering, coach Jack Del Rio gambled three times on fourth down in the fourth quarter, hoping to spark a game-winning drive. The Jaguars came up short on the last two, both fourth-and-3 plays.
Jacksonville had just 10 players on the field for the first one, and Garrard's pass to Mike Sims-Walker got batted away.
``That should never happen,'' Lewis said. ``As an offense, we're embarrassed that did happen. Extra point, third down, second down, it doesn't matter. I don't even know how it happened, but we can't have things like that happen, especially when a game's on the line.''