JACKSONVILLE FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Daryl Smith #52 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates after making an interception during the NFL season opener game against the Denver Broncos at EverBank Field on September 12 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
So it's half-time, the game's tied 7-7 what are you thinking? Is it anyone's game for the taking? The Jaguars were making a few more plays than the Broncos, but that disgusting feeling of leaving 40 seconds on the clock before half after the touchdown and the Broncos offense marching right down the field was still in the back of everyone's mind. Brandon Lloyd was already showing a new side of him as a receiver diving for balls and beating receivers up the sideline, not his inconsistent self that used to drop balls as a journeyman in San Francisco, Washington, and Chicago. Unfortunately, this trend continued in the second half as the Jaguars secondary revealed how porous it could be at times, which also kept the Broncos in the game as they soon abandoned the running game.
- Tiquan Underwood starts the second half by returning the kickoff 46 yards to give the Jaguars offense good field position. With the starting returners McGee and Karim out due to injury, Underwood stepped up consistently all day with big returns.
- The Jags' philosophy to grind out the game and wear down that Broncos defense is apparent as runs of 13, 7, and 14 consecutively by Jones-Drew and Jennings move the ball to the red zone quickly after the great field position.
- A great play drawn up to take advantage of a strength of the Jaguars: Marcedes Lewis's size. David throws a gutsy fade/jump ball to Lewis in the end zone, where he's one-on-one against the smallish safety Reynaldo Hill, and obviously the catch and touchdown go to Lewis, giving the Jaguars a 14-7 lead. That is the kind of play design I love to see from upstairs, getting Marcedes in an isolation situation against a safety and takes advantage on a jump ball. Beautiful play to watch.
- A great series followed for the Jacksonville defense as Jeremy Mincey, who as we see improves so much this season, makes a great play on a bootleg reading it and batting Orton's pass down to a would-be-open receiver. On third down, Kampman beats his man like a drum around the edge and gets a huge sack on third down. The fans are loving this pass rush that's revealing itself, especially on third down.
- A typical Jack Del Rio run on 4th and inches is stuffed big time because of huge penetration by Jones-Drew's teammate in high school, linebacker D.J. Williams who tackles the back for a loss on 4th down.
- After starting in great field position off the turnover on downs, the Broncos offense takes advantage: A pass for 15 yards to Gaffney between four defenders in cover two ushers in a big run by Moreno for 17 yards, including a disgusting stiff arm of Sean Considine once Moreno had a huge hole off tackle.
- This play still baffles me: A slant to Lloyd in the end zone is thrown way behind him, i'm talking about practically on the sideline, and a pass interference is called on Derek Cox. He made a play tring to turn his body to get the pick, made no contact with Lloyd, and the officials call an interference. At the least, it was definitely not a catch-able ball, but needless to say it was called, and the Broncos had the ball at the Jaguar 1 yard line.
- Moreno punctuates the short drive with a TD untouched from a yard out. 14-14 now.
- Another great kick return by Underwood to midfield helps tremendously for the offense. A couple of penalties by both sides lead to a third down in which Garrard checks down to Jones-Drew way too early and he has no time to turn up the field for a first. Scobee nails a field goal from 45 yards away giving the Jaguars a 17-14 lead at the end of the third as he followed by booting the kickoff into the stands. He seems to always make his kickoffs a little harder after making a long field goal before it.
- A lightning delay of 35 minutes creates basically another halftime for both teams. I was there and man was it a bummer. A lot of people left when the game was nowhere near being over. But the ones that stayed, they were louder than ever when the teams took the field. I found it funny that in the telecast Solomon Wilcots said, "The NFL is about the safety of its players" after the teams retreated to the locker rooms. Oh how this statement is a synopsis of the season that was in 2010.
- Immediately, Cox is beat by Lloyd again for 27 yards up the sideline. Orton scrambles for a first down the next play as the pocket collapsed but there was no pressure up the middle so he was able to sneak out. There was a Derrick Harvey sighting the play after (don't get used to it there weren't many) as he tipped a screen pass nicely on 2nd down that would have gone for a huge game.
- The drive stalls and Matt Prater drills a kick from 54 yards away to tie the game at 17-17.
- Then the drive happens. The one that defined this game showing the maturity of the Jaguars and the youth of the Broncos. First play: a 1 yard screen to Jones-Drew, but 15 yards tacked on for a face mask penalty by Ryan McBean. Second play: MJD runs for 8 to the Jaguars 43. Third play: 8 yards by MJD for a first down, and another inexcusable face mask penalty by McBean for another extra 15 yards. Fourth play: A nicely designed Garrard drop-back draw play nets some nice yardage and another first down. Fifth and final play: Garrard hits Kassim Osgood for a 20 yard touchdown on a post.
- I'd love to break down this play. Osgood has no one immediately on him, but Dawkins is back and clearly Osgood is his responsibility. Osgood complained in San Diego about never getting an opportunity at receiver, only on special teams, and on this day, he got his shot in Jacksonville, and he made the most of it. Dawkins lets Osgood on the post cross his face, and thats all it took. He stepped right in front of him, like boxing him out on a rebound to the ball, and Garrard throw s a laser that lets him power the extra two yards into the end zone. The stands went wild as the Jaguars took the lead 24-7.
- An excessive celebration penalty (such an annoying penalty) gives the Broncos good field position to start the drive at their 43. The next play, Orton gets demolished, but somehow gets the ball off to an open Brandon Lloyd (again?) for 35 yards over a beat Rashean Mathis. The drive continues to a 4th and 3 deep in Jaguars territory. The defense takes a timeout to get their head, and the play, right and Lloyd makes a beautiful catch in the end zone, but he only gets one foot in so it's a turn over on downs.
- Jones-Drew immediately puts this win on his shoulders and strings some nice carries together with authority with under 4 minutes to play. Eventually the drive stalls and the Broncos start at their 25, down by 7, with under 2 minutes to play and 1 time out.
- Eddie Royal gets 1 yard on a screen and doesn't get out of bounds (tick tick tick), Lloyd makes a catch for 10 yards in the middle of the field (tick tick tick), then Mathis drops an over-the-shoulder pick that could have sealed the game. It's a play quickly forgotten, since it came the very next play:
- The defense shows its potential. Orton drops back, Kampman gets off his block and is quickly about to pounce on Orton for lunch, Orton forces a throw over the middle in double-coverage and Daryl Smith makes a beautiful interception that seals the game and the win. Josh McDaniels' face following this play was absolutely priceless.
- The celebration ensued and the Jaguars were 1-0 and had a great, hard fought victory over the Broncos. A huge game was approaching next week as a trip to the west coast, where the Jags had struggled mightily over the years, loomed as Game 2 was at San Diego. The city was buzzing though and the fans were behind this team early.