In what was considered the most important season opener in franchise history, the Jaguars gave the fans all they wanted and then some.
The majority of the pregame coverage ended up being focused on a player who came in for all of 3 plays. Tim Tebow ran the ball twice for a grand total of 2 yards, and was used as a decoy wide receiver on another play. He may one day become a NFL QB, but for this season it seems he's going to be a glorified back up fullback.
On the other hand, the actual starting quarterbacks gave the fans a show to remember. David Garrard finished the game 16/21 for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Kyle Orton went 21/33 for 295 yards and a touchdown. For David Garrard, the game proved to be a showcase for his positive traits. He was quick and efficient with the ball, managing the team well.
The two offensive stars of training camp continued to shine today as well. Marcedes Lewis hauled in two touchdown passes on the day. Mike Thomas was the Jaguars leading receiver with 6 receptions for 89 yards. On the other hand, it was quite disappointing to see Mike Sims-Walker vanish. After harping on consistency issues during the offseason, this isn't the way you want your budding #1 WR to start the year off.
On the defensive side of the ball, Gene Smith has to be smiling with the results of the defensive line. Tyson Alualu and Aaron Kampman combined for 2.5 sacks on the day. Kampman in particular was extremely impressive, constantly getting into the Denver backfield and pressuring Kyle Orton.
Daryl Smith's game clinching interception highlighted what was a pretty solid day by the Jaguars linebacking corp.
The big concern after today has to be the secondary, particularly 2nd year corner Derek Cox. Cox was picked on all day by the Broncos to the point that he was replaced by recently acquired David Jones late in the game. Much of Cox's poor performance in the preseason was brushed off as the result of an apparent injury, but now it appears to be something more than that.
What isn't an issue is the Jaguars special teams. It seems that no matter who the team has returning kicks, the team is going to start off past the 30 yard line after kick offs. In addition, Josh Scobee hopefully cleared the last of the yips from his system after making a tough field goal in a swirling wind to give the Jags a 17-14 lead. Also, a tip of the cap to Kassim Osgood. Osgood not only showed his special teams prowess with a beautiful save at the goal line to pin Denver deep, but caught the game winning touchdown as well.
Speaking of Osgood's touchdown, what exactly was "excessive" about his celebration?
However, almost none of the positives would've been possible without help from the Broncos. Troy Buckhalter's fumble in the first quarter, and the 2 face mask calls on the Jags TD drive more than aided Jacksonville.
The collective angst the city of Jacksonville had been feeling towards this game seemingly came in the form of scorching temperatures. Prior to the downpour that defined the 4th quarter, temperatures topped out at 92 degrees, with a heat index of over 102. Then at the end of the third quarter, the weather promptly shifted to almost monsoon like conditions. Following a 33 minute lightning delay, the rest of the game was played in varying degrees of rain.