Don Banks bemoans the fact that the Jags did nearly everything it takes to beat New England and they still lost. Don Banks is dead wrong.
The Jags didn't come nearly as close to beating New England as the Giants did last week or as Philly or Baltimore did before them. Banks argues that the Jags did the three most important things:
1. Stop Randy Moss.
2. Control the clock with the run game.
3. Keep the game close well into the fourth quarter.
You can make the argument that the Jags really only did one of those three things. They clearly shut down Randy Moss. I'd argue however that something was still amiss with the Jaguars D. They allowed Larry Maroney to destroy them. Who would have predicted that? Usually they can rely on their front 7 to stop the run without having an eighth man come up to help. The problem is Stroud is on IR and Henderson and Grady Jackson were hobbled. Still, stopping Moss was a good start.
The Jags didn't control the clock with the run game. Mojo and Fred Taylor only averaged 3.47 yards per carry for a total of 66 yards. Not nearly enough. DZ correctly points out that the Jags got away from running it because the passing game was so wide open. Fair enough, but when it came time to lean on the ground game in the second half New England's Linebackers weren't nearly as tired as they could have been. I would have liked to see 30+ carries. Remember the Jags were held to field goals on two of their final three drives.
Third, the Jaguars didn't keep the game all that close in the fourth quarter. They were down 11 points and kicked a field goal. That's as close as they got. You have to score touchdowns against the Pats. They were outscored 17-6 in the second half. I'd say Don Banks was very wrong about Jacksonville doing what it takes to win.
We've said all season that there are a couple things you have to do to beat the Pats. Covering Moss would be on that list, but here is where the Jags failed:
1. Don't turn the ball over. Garrard's boneheaded fumble was the play of the game. His late interception was also unfortunate. The guy played a great game, but you can't have any turnovers let alone multiple turnovers against a 16-0 team.
2. Force a turnover. Just one is enough. The Patriots only had 14 turnovers this season. The Colts were the only team close with 19 (six of those coming in one game). It is hard to beat a team that doesn't beat itself. If your D can't force the issue then don't bother showing up.
3. Score a ton of points. This is where the Jags (and Colts failed). 20 points is not nearly enough to beat the Pats. 30 should be enough if you follow steps one and two. DZ kept referring to last night as the Indy-KC playoff game. It felt a bit like that, but the Jags didn't hold up their end. I think the most likely scenario is to play a game last year's AFC championship game. Protect the football and score a ton. NE will probably follow suit. In the end, you hope Brady throws the big pick.
Tom Brady had a flawless game yesterday, but the Jaguars were far from it. This game is much closer if Dennis Northcutt didn't have the drop of the year last night on the goal line. It's all talk until someone beats the Pats, but we didn't see anything last night (even 92% completions) that says it can't be done.