- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

STORY OF THE WEEK

JAGUARS SAVE SEASON

There was a reason why Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee sprinted to fetch the football he booted through the uprights from 51 yards out to give the Jaguars a 23-21 win over Indianapolis: It was a big field goal, and it saved his team’s season.

Clubs that start 0-3 rarely reach .500 and almost never make the playoffs. That’s what Jacksonville faced when Joseph Addai’s 2-yard run gave the Colts a 21-20 lead with 1:03 left. But the Jaguars got into field goal position and won a game they dominated.

The Jaguars, tied with Indianapolis for second place in the AFC South (two games back of Tennessee) outgained the Colts 403-325 and held an incredible advantage in time of possession by possessing the ball for 41:35. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew each went over 100 yards.

“Their guys make guys miss, and they made us miss today,” Colts coach Tony Dungy said.

The win was crucial because after this week’s game against Houston, the Jaguars have Pittsburgh at home and go to Denver. They also play Tennessee and Indianapolis again along with Minnesota, Chicago and Green Bay.

Indianapolis appears to be running in place. Although the Colts gained 325 yards, Peyton Manning threw two interceptions. Their only win was a comeback over Minnesota.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Down 24-14 to the Chicago Bears after - this is not a misprint - a 19-yard touchdown catch by Brandon Lloyd, the Buccaneers rallied to score 10 points in the final 3:11 of regulation and then won 27-24 in overtime on Matt Bryant’s 21-yard field goal.

Brian Griese, the controversial choice of Jon Gruden to take over at quarterback instead of Jeff Garcia, threw 67 passes, just three short of the NFL single-game record. He completed 38 attempts for 407 yards and two touchdowns.

The win was huge for Gruden. He hasn’t won a playoff game since Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers have won two division titles since then but lost home postseason games to the Redskins and Giants. The win likely validates Gruden’s decision to bench Garcia (with whom he’s feuding) and go with Griese.

FIVE THINGS LEARNED IN WEEK 3

1. The NFC East is the best division in football. The four teams are 8-0 against teams from outside the division. There seems no doubt that both wild cards will come from this group. Philadelphia and Washington will duel for the final spot.

2. Denver is 3-0 despite its defense. Lucky for the Broncos, they still have three games against Oakland and Kansas City, teams with pathetic offenses. Denver ranks 29th in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed after a 34-32 win over New Orleans.

3. The Eagles’ defense knows how to bounce back. A week after allowing 41 points and 380 yards at Dallas, Philadelphia stifled Pittsburgh - the Steelers gained only 180 yards, and their quarterbacks were sacked nine times.

4. Brady Quinn needs to get a shot. The Browns are 0-3, and Derek Anderson was a woeful 14-for-37 for 125 yards and three interceptions. It’s time for Romeo Crennel to put in Quinn, whom GM Phil Savage traded a first-round pick for in 2007.

5. St. Louis knows how to find the end zone. It took the Rams and old friend Al Saunders 28 drives to get inside the 20-yard line, and in the 11th quarter of the season, they crossed the goal line in a 37-13 loss at Seattle. The Rams are last in yards allowed and second to last in yards gained.

NEXT MAN UP

Here’s a list of big injuries and who’s in line to replace them.

QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (hand): X-rays on his throwing hand were negative, and Mike Tomlin expects him to play. Byron Leftwich is the backup.

RB Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia (ankle): Is day to day after going down in first half against Pittsburgh. Correll Buckhalter filled in with a 20-yard touchdown catch.

QB Jon Kitna, Detroit (knee): Left the loss at San Francisco with a knee sprain and was replaced by Dan Orlovsky.

S Dawan Landry, Baltimore (spinal cord concussion): The brother of Redskins safety LaRon Landry will undergo more tests this week but his injury isn’t believed to be serious. Tom Zbikowski is next on the depth chart.

DL Gerald Warren, Oakland (neck): Did not return to loss to Buffalo after second-half injury; Terdell Sands is the backup.

FB Darian Barnes, Buffalo (right foot): The Bills’ starting blocking back was injured during a 9-yard reception. Look for the Bills to use more one-back sets if Barnes is out.

NUMBERS GAME

1998 was the last time a team (Buffalo) started 0-3 and made the playoffs. That all but eliminates St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City and possibly Houston (which is 0-2).

HOT SEAT

Whose performance Sunday puts them in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons next week:

MATT MILLEN

Finally, somebody in the Detroit Lions ownership group smartened up Monday. Bill Ford Jr., vice chairman of the 0-3 Lions, said: “It was an embarrassment. The fans deserve better, and if I had the authority, I would have fired the general manager.” Millen better use the bye week to create some answers.


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