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NFL Recap (Jacksonville-Tennessee)

Posted: Sun September 27, 1998 at 11:03 p.m. EDT


NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars finally figured out a way to stop Tennessee Oilers quarterback Steve McNair -- knock him out of the game.

The unbeaten Jaguars trailed the Oilers in the fourth quarter before sidelining McNair with a hip pointer, then shut down backup journeyman Dave Krieg and used two fourth-quarter field goals by Mike Hollis for a 27-22 victory.

Mark Brunell threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns and rookie running back Fred Taylor notched his second straight 100-yard game for the Jaguars (4-0), who are off to their best start in franchise history.

McNair was 16-of-30 for 198 yards and two touchdowns to Yancey Thigpen. He directed a drive that resulted in Al Del Greco's third field goal of the game, a 32-yarder that gave Tennessee (1-3) a 22-21 lead with 6:07 left in the third quarter.

But an injured McNair left after the first possession of the fourth quarter and did not return. The Oilers went nowhere with Krieg, who was 1-of-3 for 10 yards. He was sacked twice and fumbled three times, including one recovered by Jacksonville defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn with 1:29 to go.

"Steve has a hip pointer, a bruise," Oilers coach Jeff Fisher said. "There's not many injuries that are more painful than a contusion of the hip. he just couldn't overcome it. He lost his edge, so we went with Dave Krieg."

Taylor, the ninth pick in the April draft, carried 25 times for 116 yards and a touchdown, giving Jacksonville its fourth straight 100-yard rusher. James Stewart reached the plateau in each of the first two games before suffering a knee injury last week.

Jacksonville's defense had four sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery while holding Oilers running back Eddie George to just 25 yards on 14 carries. Thigpen caught six passes for 102 yards.

"We knew this was going to be a very difficult ballgame," said Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin. "It wasn't played the way I envisioned it. We got outside of ourselves."

"When you play a team that has the talent level this team has, you have to play a consistent ballgame," Fisher said. "You can't just play a half here or a half there or a series here or a series there."

After McNair's departure, Brunell found Keenan McCardell with passes of 18 and 26 yards to set up an 18-yard kick by Hollis for a 24-22 lead with 9:45 left.

Krieg came on and fumbled a pair of snaps before throwing an incompletion. After a punt, Brunell scrambled nine yards on 3rd-and-7 to keep alive a drive that resulted in a 36-yarder by Hollis with 1:56 remaining. Wynn recovered Krieg's 153rd career fumble 27 seconds later and the Jaguars ran out the clock.

"We didn't really do much differently (with McNair out), but everyone was aware of it," Coughlin said. "The fact that McNair was out of the game and our pressure defense played well, causing them to fumble the snaps, it got them upset."

"We were just trying to run some time off the clock and that was critical for us," Brunell said of his scramble. "We were able to keep the clock moving in that situation and it really helped us."

Brunell was 17-of-28 with an interception and McCardell caught six passes for 68 yards for Jacksonville, which has beaten Tennessee four straight times. The visitor has won six of the seven meetings and all seven have been decided by eight points or less.

After Del Greco's 34-yard kick in the first period, Brunell hit tight end Damon Jones with a five-yard TD pass and McNair answered with a 38-yard scoring strike to Thigpen, giving Tennessee a 10-7 lead with 1:25 left in the quarter.

McNair found Willie Davis for 22 yards, then ran 12 yards to set up a 32-yarder by Del Greco midway through the second quarter. On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Brunell was picked off by safety Darryll Lewis, who returned it seven yards to the Jaguars 32. Four plays later, McNair hit Thigpen with an 18-yard TD pass and a 19-7 lead with 6:09 left in the first half.

"We made plays at times during the ballgame in the first half," Fisher said. "We made good plays, with Yancey's touchdown catches and some of the other guys. We just didn't make plays in the second half."

The Oilers were in Jacksonville territory again when McNair was intercepted by Travis Davis, who returned it 34 yards to the 31. Brunell twice connected with tight end Pete Mitchell before he found McCardell with a seven-yard scoring strike just 21 seconds before intermission.

"That really helped us," Brunell said. "It kind of switched the momentum a little bit. We had two turnovers back to back and we needed to come into halftime feeling good about ourselves."

"Three interceptions were very big," Coughlin said. "Turnovers are always big."

Taylor scampered 49 yards on the first play of the third quarter and Brunell hit Jimmy Smith for 30 yards to the 2 before Taylor banged it in, giving Jacksonville a 21-19 lead.

© 1998 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP

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