Jags come up short, 'Fins keep falling, QB controversy
Posted: Sunday December 2, 2007 7:03PM; Updated: Sunday December 2, 2007 10:43PM
Will the Jags ever win a big game under coach Jack Del Rio? It's a question that must be asked after they fell to the Colts 28-25 on Sunday.
For almost four years now, Del Rio's team has been tough to beat. Jacksonville is 37-23 (.617) since the start of 2004, and hasn't had a losing season since going 5-11 in 2003 -- Del Rio's first year on the job.
But every time the Jaguars face a big test, they come up just short. It happened again Sunday at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Jacksonville played well against Indy. But not well enough. The Jags made big plays, but the Colts made more. When Indy had to make something happen, it did. When the Jaguars had to stop the Colts, they couldn't.
Jacksonville is still 8-4 and in great shape to make the AFC playoffs for the second time in three years. But let's stop expecting the Jags to take that big step up in weight class, because it's not happening. Not this year, anyway. Jacksonville trails the 10-2 Colts in the AFC South by what amounts to three games with four to play, and the Jaguars are just 2-3 in their division -- the toughest in the NFL. They've now lost twice to Indy, and once to Tennessee.
As for the Colts, they remain the class of the division, injuries and all. Reports of their demise were -- as I suspected -- exaggerated. The Colts have won three in a row after their two-game losing streak in Weeks 9-10, and their continued return to health portends bad news for everyone in the AFC. I still expect the defending Super Bowl champions to make it to Foxboro for the Jan. 20 AFC Championship Game against the vaunted Patriots, which will be the de facto Super Bowl again this season.
Emotion carries you only so far in football, which we learned anew on Sunday with Washington's last-minute 17-16 loss to visiting Buffalo -- a game the Redskins played with heavy hearts in the wake of Sean Taylor's murder last Monday.
The Bills, a team that had its season touched by the tragedy of Kevin Everett's spinal cord injury on opening day, probably know this all too well. Buffalo beat Washington on five Rian Lindell field goals and a safety by linebacker Angelo Crowell, giving the Redskins one more difficult moment this week.
It's always difficult to play with the kind of burden that Washington faced Sunday, and it looked as if the Redskins found their emotional energy running low by game's end against Buffalo. At 5-7, with four consecutive losses and the sad task of attending Taylor's funeral in South Florida on Monday morning, the Redskins aren't expected to save their season or recover their emotional balance in the coming weeks.
I realize it's a very personal decision to come up with a fitting tribute for a fallen teammate. In that respect, no one but the Redskins players and coaches were in position to know what felt right to honor Taylor's memory on Sunday. But the Redskins' call to go with 10 defenders on the field for their first snap didn't keep with Taylor's well-known love for the game and the competition he thrived on.
From what I've heard of Taylor, he would have never opted to give his opponent the slightest edge, even for one play. That's how fiercely he competed and how seriously he approached the game of football. If Taylor was known for playing the game all out, every play, it seems to me you honor him most as a team by playing all out, every play.