It was 17-7 heading into halftime at EverBank Field on Sunday and it looked like it might be "one of those" days for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Some fans worried the Jaguars would get caught peeking ahead to this weekend's pivotal match up with the Indianapolis Colts, and the Oakland Raiders took full advantage. The game had an ominous start for the Jaguars offense, when receiver Mike Thomas took a reverse for negative seven yards. The typically dominant first half Jaguars offense was as anemic as it's been in the second half of the last few weeks.
At halftime however, Maurice Jones-Drew wasn't going to let that happen.
"It really wasn't a halftime talk. We were pressing a little bit in the first half. Oakland did a great job of stopping what we wanted to do early. What I told the guys is that we just need to relax. We were doing some uncharacteristic things in all three phases. We just need to relax and play our game," Maurice Jones-Drew said after the game when asked about his "speech".
Whatever it was, it worked. A Jaguars team that had been essentially scoring nothing in the second half in the past few weeks lit the scoreboard up for 31 points in the second half against the Raiders.
"We did so much throughout the week, it was just kind of like ‘listen, we work so hard, for us to throw it away.' Like I said I don't like to talk, but it was just something that needed to be said at that time. It was just to relax, it was nothing like ‘let's fire it up and let's go.' ," said Jones-Drew.
The second half was sparked early by a deep ball from quarterback David Garrard to newly acquired wide receiver Jason Hill. Garrard heaved the ball in the air and placed it on the back shoulder of Hill, who hauled it in for a 48-yard touchdown. The Jaguars caught the Raiders without their safety in the middle of the field, and Hill blew past the single coverage. Garrard had missed a few passes deep down the field in the first half, but this one was right on the money.
After the defense gave up a 51-yard touchdown run to Darren McFadden, assisted by missed tackles by Don Carey and Sean Considine, Rashad Jennings had one of the best plays of the year as he took a hand off to the outside and tip-toed the side line. He cut back to the middle of the field and romped on to a 74-yard touchdown run that put the Jaguars right back into the football game at 21-24. You could feel the momentum swing in the Jaguars favor in the stadium and they took over from that point. On the next drive, David Garrard hit Mike Sims-Walker on the side of the endzone for a touchdown. I'm not sure if Sims-Walker got both feet in, but the Raiders couldn't challenge the play so it doesn't matter, it counted.
Josh Scobee hit a 19-yard field goal to push the lead to 31-24, but the Raiders tied the game up with another McFadden touchdown run, once again assisted by missed tackles. With under two minutes left, it looked like the Jaguars were destined for overtime.
That was, until Deji Karim got a hold of the kick return. Karim took the kick off 65 yards to the Oakland 30-yard line. That setup the dagger by Jones-Drew, who split the middle of the Oakland defense for a 30-yard touchdown run to seal the game. Some wondered however if the Raiders let Jones-Drew score on the play, as they'd actually been fairly stout up the middle much of the game.
"I don't know, but if they did, thank you. It felt great," said Jones-Drew after the game.
That 30-yard touchdown run sent Jones-Drew over the 100-yard mark for his sixth straight 100-yard rushing game.