When I was studying spanish in high school, one of my favorite verbs in the whole language was "esposar." I liked it because it had two different meanings based on usage. It meant either "to marry" (i.e. espouse) or "to handcuff." At the time, I chuckled at the inherent suggestion that marrying someone and being handcuffed to them were the same thing, however, I now understand that the difference between being married to someone and handcuffed to them if really if it all works out in the end or not. David Garrard learned that lesson today as well.
After Eugene Monroe was ruled out for the game, doubts began surfacing about whether Guy Whimper, an unproven commodity at Left Tackle, could keep Garrard safe from Osi Umenyiora. The marriage between Eugene Monroe and David Garrard had worked well so far this season, as Garrard had avoided his usual habit of happy feet and put up some very strong numbers. Garrard owned an almost 70% completion rate and 18 touchdowns before this game with Monroe watching out for him. Whimper played a great first half, as did the rest of the Jaguars, pushing out to a 17-6 lead on the strength of a 145 yards rushing in the first half. Maurice Jones-Drew had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, finishing with 119 yards on 21 carries, and Rashad Jennings added another 53 yards and a touchdown on only seven carries. David Garrard was hurried in the first half, but managed to make some incredible plays in the running game as well, scrambling all over the field for another 40+ rushing yards. He made a huge play at the end of the half, running from sideline to sideline dodging rushers and blockers alike before scrambling into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. At the end of the half, Jaguars fans had to feel good about their position, leading by 11 and rushing for almost 75 yards more than the Giants allow per game this season in just one half.
The second half was a different story. The Giants began stacking the box with defenders, and the running game was slowed down as Garrard was forced to beat the Giants by taking to the air. With the running game suppressed, the Giants harassed Garrard and took advantage of the injuries to both of the Jaguars' Offensive Tackles. Despite the Giants own troubles up front, the Jaguars didn't sack Eli Manning once, though Eli did miss some open throws. With five minutes left in the game, Josh Scobee hit a field goal to put the Jaguars up 20-17. Then, with just over five minutes to play in the game, Eli Manning did his David Garrard impression. 6 plays and 69 yards in less than 2 and a half minutes. Ouch.
Down four points in the final minutes, the Jaguars were not in entirely unfamiliar territory. They had three timeouts and 2:40 seconds to work their last-second magic. Garrard made some nice plays to more the Jaguars down to the Gaints 30 yard line before things took a turn for the worse. Garrard got antsy. He started dancing around in the backfield, and took two straight sacks and fumbled on two straight blitzes by the Giants, leaving the Jaguars in a third and 25. The Giants showed pressure. Terrell Thomas came around the corner on a blitz and slapped the ball out of Garrard's hand. Antrell Rolle recovered the fumble at the Jaguars 39 yard line, and the Giants could end the game in victory formation.
There was plenty of blame to go around in this game: Mike Sims-Walker had a key drop which turned into a Terrell Thomas interception, and both the offense and the defense seemed to lose steam as the game went on. The Jaguars fought hard, and almost came away with a win on the road against a very talented Giants team, but when it mattered the most, Garrard was brought down by the pass rush, handcuffed to his blockers.