Jaguars eager to build on 1st win in 2 months
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Until Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars hadn't held a second-half lead at home all season.
No wonder it nearly caused problems.
Moments after Cecil Shorts III caught a pass from Chad Henne and raced 59 yards to give the Jaguars a 14-6 lead in the third quarter against Tennessee, two offensive linemen tried to jump into the stands to celebrate. Luckily for the Jaguars, rookie guard Mike Brewster was unable to leap the wall.
Officials warned coach Mike Mularkey that his team nearly drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"I did not know there was a rule that you couldn't have more than one guy do the leap,'' Mularkey said Monday. "It's a good problem.''
One the Jaguars (2-9) would gladly welcome again as they try to build on their 24-19 victory Sunday that snapped a seven-game losing streak. They play at Buffalo (4-7) on Sunday, trying to start a winning streak.
For Mularkey, it's a return to where he got his first head-coaching job.
For Chad Henne, it's the first of four consecutive games against his former division, the AFC East, and a chance to keep the offense moving in the right direction.
Henne completed 17 of 26 passes for 261 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception against the Titans. Not too shabby for a guy making his first start in more than 13 months.
Henne's first pass was tipped and intercepted, and he was sacked seven times, but he overcame those mistakes with clutch throws to Shorts, rookie Justin Blackmon and tight end Marcedes Lewis.
"He was smart with the football,'' Mularkey said. "He just did a good job protecting the football and giving us a chance even if we had to punt the ball. He was smart there. ... I thought his performance was very gutsy.''
Henne earned the starting job last week at Houston, where he threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns in relief of injured starter Blaine Gabbert.
Henne has a chance to keep the gig going into 2013 if he continues to play well down the stretch.
But the Jaguars aren't ready to anoint Henne as the franchise quarterback just yet. After all, it's only been two games and Henne's performances surely seem better coming on the heels of Gabbert's 24 mediocre starts.
"He's made some really good plays for us,'' Mularkey said. "He's made some good throws and some good reads for us. Players have made plays for him very well. ... He's made some throws. He's done a great job of some of the reads we've asked him to do. He, too, has things he can get better at in both games that he's played so far, but he's being very smart with the ball, especially in the pocket.
"When it's not there, a sack is better than a sack-fumble or throw it away and get a pick. He's eliminating the worst thing that can happen on plays.''
Shorts, rookie Justin Blackmon and tight end Marcedes Lewis have benefited the most with Henne under center.
Shorts has seven receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Blackmon has 12 catches for 298 yards and two scores. And Lewis has hauled in seven passes for 96 yards and two TDs.
"I feel like more of an experienced quarterback,'' Henne said. "I think you learn a lot about yourself, especially in your first four years, so I've been through a lot. Really only had two years underneath my belt as a starter, so I'm still learning a lot of things about myself and working on things that I can improve on.''
Inconsistency was Henne's main issue in Miami, so playing well over the final five games could be the difference between locking up the starting spot and leaving the Jaguars still looking for answers at quarterback.
"I think a lot of it has been confidence,'' Mularkey said. "I am happy that he is performing like he is right now. We brought him in here was to do what he's doing right now.''
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