Bring on the Jets
Jaguars run over Patriots 25-10 in AFC wild-card game
Posted: Monday January 04, 1999 01:16 AM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Mark Brunell was limping and frustrated. Jacksonville's lead was slipping away.
So Jimmy Smith stepped in and bought his quarterback another week to get better.
Returning from a sprained ankle he sustained five weeks ago, Brunell never really got into a groove, finishing 14-for-34 for 161 yards.
But Fred Taylor ran for 162 yards and a touchdown and Brunell threw a great pass in the fourth quarter to Smith, who simply outran Law on a sideline pattern for a 37-yard touchdown after the Patriots cut a 12-point halftime deficit to 12-10.
"Ty Law was on Jimmy every play on the field today and for a good part of the time, he did a good job," said Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin. "But it was something Jimmy does so well -- him and Mark on the fade. They've done it consistently over and over for the last four years and they hooked up again."
Meanwhile, Taylor easily won the matchup against fellow 1,000-yard rookie Robert Edwards. He finished with 162 yards - 115 in the first half -- while Edwards finished with just 28.
"There were rumors coming out of New England that we were a finesse team," Taylor said. "When you think of finesse, you think of divers and all that swimming-type stuff. That was an insult."
New England's up-and-down season ended at 9-8 and with a rash of injuries, placing doubt whether Pete Carroll will return for a third season.
"We've used that doggone 'adversity' word so much, I'm sick of using it," Carroll said. "But we overcame a bunch. And then we came up short in this game."
After winning the first home playoff game in team history, the Jaguars (12-5) travel to New York to play the Jets next Sunday. It will mark coach Tom Coughlin's first meeting with his old mentor, Bill Parcells, since the Jaguars lost to the Parcells-coached Patriots in the 1996 AFC Championship game.
Coughlin coached with Parcells from 1988 to 1990, when the New York Giants won their second Super Bowl title.
"The Jets are a heck of a football team, they're playing very well right now," Coughlin said. "But before you start on the Parcells-Coughlin deal, I'll just take a few minutes tonight to enjoy this one."
The Jaguars will surely need a better performance from Brunell, who was anything but the scrambling daredevil who built his reputation in a pair of 1996 playoff upsets over Denver and Buffalo.
Limping and unable to run, he had trouble moving the offense consistently. It seemed like it would cost the Jaguars the game when Scott Zolak led the Patriots on two long drives in the third quarter. The first ate up 85 yards and 8:48 to cut Jacksonville's lead to 12-7.
Brunell opened the next drive with a perfect pass to Smith on the right sideline, one he dropped, apparently bothered by the bright sunshine.
Five plays later, Smith got his second chance, streaking by Law for the catch just inside the back of the end zone.
"Anytime we get press with Jimmy Smith, we feel it's to our advantage," Brunell said. "I gave him the 'go' signal and he made a nice catch."
Law said it was a play he never should have been burned on.
"I'm supposed to be a guy who's counted on around this team," he said. "Now I have a long time to think about it."
Joel Smeenge forced a fumble minutes later that the Jaguars converted into Mike Hollis' 34-yard field goal. Jacksonville got another short field goal after a Patriots desperation drive failed deep in their own territory.
That capped Jacksonville's first playoff victory since the well-documented 30-27 victory in Denver in 1996. Natrone Means was the running back then, replaced this season by Taylor, who added a few more clips to a sensational rookie season.
Most of them came in the first half while he was still fresh.
In the first quarter, he used great blocks from Tony Boselli and Ben Coleman to break a 46-yard run down the center of the field. Brunell overthrew McCardell and Jones, both wide open in the end zone, but Hollis hit a 24-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead.
In the second quarter, it was Taylor heading toward the right side, stopping, pivoting left and running down the sideline for a 21-yard gain to the Patriots 34. Four plays later, he scooted around left end for a 13-yard touchdown and a 12-0 lead.
Zolak finished 21-for-44 for 190 yards and one interception.
Taylor surpassed Zack Crockett for the third-best playoff performance by a rookie running back. Crockett, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, is a special teams player for the Jaguars. ... The Jaguars entered the game with an 0-3 record vs. the Patriots. Hollis' first field goal gave them their first lead ever in the series. ... The Patriots allowed more than 10 points for the first time in an AFC playoff game since 1994. ... By going 4-for-4, Hollis extended his streak to 12 straight successful field goals in the playoffs.
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