Today might've been the first time since the Monday Night Football game against the Ravens that I didn't hate football. After falling behind early 14-0 in the first quarter with ugly displays by both the offense and defense, absolutely everything went the Jaguars way from then on. Prior to today's game against Tampa Bay, the Jaguars had never scored 21 points or more, yet doubled that with 41.
The Jaguars forced seven turnovers including a pair of fumble recoveries by Colin Cloherty and Nate Collins that both resulted in touchdowns. Offensively, the Jaguars were led as always by Maurice Jones-Drew.
He's really good, guys.His four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving) made him the all-time leader in Jaguars franchise history with 73 in his, still young, career. For a bit of perspective, he has 73 touchdowns in 90 games with the Jaguars while Jimmy Smith finished with 69 in 171 games and Fred Taylor had 70 in 138. He is tied for 39th all-time for NFL career rushing touchdowns with O.J. Simpson and Herschel Walker.
Also encouraging today was the improvement showed by Blaine Gabbert. While he made some errors, most notably two interceptions, they were mostly mental errors typical of a rookie. He was strong fundamentally, didn't fall away from pressure and made some very strong throws including one to Marcedes Lewis down the middle of the field that resulted in a 62 yard gain.
While the game means little for the Jaguars in 2011, it was an incredibly encouraging game for the future of the Jaguars and exactly what Gabbert and even the Jaguars fans needed.
On the downside, Russell Allen's kicking career may have ended today. Dreams crushed.