AFC Championship: Jaguars 27, Patriots 20 Triumph! July 21, 2010 By: Harry Stone, Jacksonville Post-Intelligencer FOXBOROUGH, MA- After nearly two decades as an NFL franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars are headed to their first Super Bowl. In a game that was as good as advertised, the Jaguars knocked off the #1 seeded New England Patriots on the road to claim their first AFC Championship trophy. Jacksonville fought through injury, adversity, and bad luck to silence the critics and move on to the championship game. The game started off with New England showing why they've won 16 games so far this season. With the Jaguars getting the ball to start the game, the first play from the Jaguars offense was a Drew Brees pass attempt to Steve Smith that was picked off by Jerod Mayo. The Patriots would need just three plays and their duo of Tom Brady and Randy Moss would connect on a wide open 15 post pattern in the back of the endzone for a touchdown to put New England up quickly. The shellshocked Jaguars would get the ball back and try to establish the run game. However Maurice Jones-Drew would injure his elbow, and would be done for the game. But in a recurring theme, the Jaguars wouldn't panic and would start to rely on second year tailback Rashad Jennings to carry the load. Jennings would mix in some runs with Drew Brees short passes to get the Jags into Pats territory. However they would have to settle for a field goal to make it 7-3 late in the first quarter. Then the Green Machine defense would get into the action. The Patriots would drive inside the ten yard line and look to go up two scores. However a Brady throw into the end zone was intercepted and the Jags would get the ball back. This time Jacksonville woud use a long drive and march into the red zone for the first time. With the Patriots using a tough 8 man zone defense, Coach Dunlap called a run for Jennings in a second a long situation from the 12 yard lline. Jennings would bulldoze a defender and slice his way into the endzone to give the Jaguars their first lead at 10-7 after the extra point. After a Rod Bironas field goal, Coach Dunlap would notice a pattern in the New England defense. "I saw that they were using single coverage with Champ Bailey or a Safety on nearly every play against Deshaun (Tull)," Dunlap said. "While Champ is still one of the best, its hard for me to believe anybody can stop Tull consistently one on one." Brees would take advantage of this single converage and connect on a touchdown bomb to Tull to make it 17-10 Jaguars. Yet another Brady interception would allow the Jaguars to tack on a field goal heading in to halftime, putting them up 20-10 at the intermission. The second half wouldn't start any better for New England. Tom Brady would be picked off on a great play in man coverage by safety Eric Weddle to give the Jaguars the ball deep in Patriot territory. The Jaguars were looking to open up the lead, but luck would start to fall the Patriots way. Rashad Jennings would be ruled by the officials to fumble the ball, although it looked like he was down by contact. However with no challenges available the Patriots would dodge a bullet and get the ball back. Then on a third and long, Brady would squeeze a pass right through the hands or Weddle this time connecting for a first down with Eddleman. The very next play, Brady would throw at Weddle again, and he would tip the ball in the air but Wes Welker would snatch it out of the air and brind in another long reception. The defense looked stunned, and Brady would march his team into the endzone to make it 20-17. Now Jacksonville needed a score. The Patriots had all the momentum, and this game felt reminiscent of so many Patriot comebacks on the Jaguars in pre-season and exhibition play over the years. However Jacksonville would indeed get that drive. The Jaguars would feed the ball to Jennings and he would run over defenders on multiple plays, including a pivotal fourth down inside the 10 yard line. Jennings would eventually score on a big third and goal run to give Jacksonville a ten point lead with seven minutes remaining. The Patriots wouldn't be done, and Brady would again throw the ball all over the field to guide his team inside the ten yard line. However they would try to fool the Jags defense with two Maroney runs on second and third down inside the five yard line, and would be stopped for losses both times. Coach Gaddy would decide on a field goal on 4th and goal from the five, and Bironas would hit making it 27-20 with just over four minutes remaining. The Jaguars would again decide that the bruising Jennings was their best bet to eat clock, and he would pound the ball upfield and indeed chew up clock. With under two minutes remaining the Patriots were forced to burn two timeouts, but were able to set up a third and five at midfield. Coach Dunlap would call a pass play, but seeing nobody open Brees would take the sack to keep the clock running. Jacksonville would punt the ball to Welker and he would return it to the 25 with :40 seconds remaining and one timeout left for the Patriots. After a couple of completions, Brady would again try to tangle with Weddle but this time Weddle would seal the victory by picking off Brady for the second time. Weddle would fall to the turf and the team, the fans, and the city would start celebrating an AFC Championship and an OMFL Bowl Berth. "An unbelievable performance by our team tonight," praised Coach Dunlap. "They faced adversity and answered the bell. Tonight Rashad Jennings showed that he will be a star in this league in the not so distant future. We wouldn't be heading to the OMFL Bowl without him." The countdown is on to OMFL Bowl III, where the the Jaguars will take on the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles. --------------------------------------------------------------- TEAM STATS Jaguars Total Offense: 292 Passing: 200 Rushing: 92 3rd Down: 6/10 Turnovers: 2 Time of Possession: 15:27 Patriots Total Offense: 335 Passing: 322 Rushing: 13 3rd Down: 5/10 Turnovers: 4 Time of Possession: 16:33 INDIVIDUAL STATS Jaguars D. Brees: 15/23, 219 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT R. Jennings: 16 att, 74 yds, 2 TD E. Weddle: 3 tack, 2 int Patriots T. Brady: 28/41, 332 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT F. Gore: 4 att, 6 yds W. Welker: 9 rec, 124 yds --------------------------------- Great game Gaddy. Just another epic one between us. Like I told you before the game, any one of the final three really deserved the championship and it would all depend on some lucky breaks, and today the ball bounced my way a bit. GG!