Week 8 Game Recap: Jacksonville Jaguars 21, St. Louis Rams 24
What you need to know
The Jaguars played well in the first half of the game, but were outplayed by St. Louis in the second half. Byron Leftwich was under duress most of the game, as the Rams blitzed him many times, especially in the second half. When given time, Leftwich was usually on target, but the Rams were able to affect his timing on multiple occasions. Despite the blitzing by the Rams, Leftwich showed his toughness by taking several hits as he attempted some deep throws, most of which went incomplete. Leftwich finished the game with 18 completions in 31 attempts, for 213 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The interception was a result of a ball going through the hands of one of his intended receivers, and ricocheting into the hands of a Rams’ defender. Leftwich was victimized by dropped passes on a few other occasions.
Receiver Ernest Wilford had a very impressive game. He took advantage of the attention given to Jimmy Smith by converting seven targets into six receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown. Leftwich showed confidence in Wilford and threw several passes to him that were designed for him to use his size, which he did well in this game. Jimmy Smith had a quiet game, and though he had five passes thrown his way in the first half, was not targeted in the second half until there was less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Fred Taylor had an outstanding first half, with over 100 yards in the half, including a 71yard run for a touchdown. Taylor did not show any ill effects of the ankle that was troubling him earlier in the week, and once again showed the complete package. He ran with power up the middle, and showcased his impressive speed several times during the first half. Taylor was not as successful in the second half, and was stopped for a loss several times, in large part to his offensive line not picking up the Rams’ run blitz, and not giving him an opportunity to make defenders miss. He still finished the game with 165 yards rushing, though he was not a factor in the passing game.
Overall, despite playing very well in the first half, Jacksonville could not develop an offensive rhythm in the second half, which led to several hurried passes that fell incomplete. Contributing to the lack of offensive rhythm was kicker Josh Scobee missing two field goals that had enough distance, but sailed to the right of the goal posts. Jacksonville also overcame a blocked punt on their first possession that was recovered for the first Rams’ score in the game. They did however show a willingness to go for the big play, as evidenced by them throwing to Jimmy Smith in the end zone on a fourth and one play. The pass was broken up in the end zone. On the two passing touchdowns, Leftwich threw to Wilford, who was double-covered, but showed great concentration to haul in the 20 yard pass, and on the other, he faked a handoff to the running back Greg Jones and threw a 15 yard strike to rookie receiver Matt Jones.
The Rams started slowly, but then played much better in the second half to hold on down the stretch to preserve the victory. Jamie Martin looked very comfortable, as he took advantage of a strong running game to complete several nice passes to take advantage of the Jaguars having to respect the run. He threw the intermediate pass and deep pass equally well and effortlessly, which led to good numbers of 13 completions in 21 attempts for 200 yards, and two touchdowns. He did however, have three interceptions, but two were as a result of great plays by Jacksonville’s defense. Cornerback Rashean Mathis made a great, diving catch in the end zone to intercept one pass, and tipped another that was caught by one of his teammates for another interception. Martin did miss a couple of wide open receivers, but was on target most of the game. Martin did not lock onto one receiver, and distributed the ball fairly evenly among his receivers. It appeared as though the Rams have more confidence in him, as he attempted several deep passes during this game.
With starting receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt both missing this game, Kevin Curtis displayed his game breaking ability. He displayed his deep speed as he hauled in a long pass for an 83 yard touchdown reception. Though he was only targeted five times, Curtis received a lot of attention from the Jacksonville defense, which usually had at least two defenders in his vicinity.
Steven Jackson had an excellent game. Though overshadowed in the first half, Jackson rebounded with an excellent second half. He showed the power he is known for, as he took defenders with him several times for extra yardage. The Rams showed a lot of faith in him, and kept feeding him the ball in the second half. Jackson responded by demonstrating he too has an impressive combination of speed and power, displaying his speed several times as he ran away from the Jaguars’ defenders. Jackson finished with 179 yards rushing on 25 carries, and also turned a screen pass into a 19 yard touchdown, outrunning defenders for the score.
The Rams showed that they have a lot of faith in Jackson by leaning on him to help bring them back in the game, which he did. They also showed they were willing to take some shots deep in the passing game, but relied on Jackson to carry them with their star receivers still unable to play. Jackson distinguished himself against a very good Jacksonville run defense, and showed that he has the ability to be one of the top running backs in the game.
What you ought to know
|QB Byron Leftwich, Pass: 18 - 31 - 213 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0|
While Leftwich was hurried and under pressure for a good portion of the game, he still displayed his trademark toughness and brought Jacksonville back to within one drive of tying the game. Despite the pressure, Leftwich made the right decisions most of the day in terms of who his open receivers were. He did miss his receivers at times due to the blitzing pass rush pressure he faced, which contributed to his numbers not being as impressive as they could have been. Leftwich targeted Jimmy Smith the most in the first half, but went away from him in the second half, only throwing to him once. Leftwich did take advantage of the single coverage on Ernest Wilford, and seemed in sync with him the most of his receivers.
|RB Fred Taylor, Rush: 22 - 165 - 1, Rec: 2 - -1 - 0 (2 targets)|
Taylor had a very good game running the football. It did not appear as though his ankle was bothering him, as he showed he could cut at full speed several times during the game. He also demonstrated he has no problem taking contact and dragging defenders with him for additional yardage, which he did on multiple occasions.
Jones was used primarily as a fullback in this game, and was not productive with the few carries he had.
Pearman had one carry in the game, which was a draw play he ran for 45 yards. However, he also lost a fumble after catching a pass in the first half. Pearman was not involved otherwise in the game.
Wimbush was involved on one, very important play. On Jacksonville’s final drive, he was thrown the ball on a fourth and one play, which he caught for a first down. Other than that the rookie was involved as one of the primary kickoff returners.
Wilford took advantage of single coverage by using his size to overpower defenders and turn in an impressive performance. Wilford ran crossing routes over the middle as well as a couple of deeper patterns and caught most of the passes thrown to him. His touchdown catch was an example of superior concentration, as a Rams’ defender tipped the ball, but Wilford had the presence of mind to not only catch the ball, but also ensure his feet were inbounds before sliding out of the end zone.
Leftwich continued to show a lot of confidence in the rookie wide receiver. Jones was the first option on the play he scored a receiving touchdown on. Though he was not used on many deep routes, he was the target on several short to intermediate pass plays, where he attempted to take advantage of his height. It’s worth noting that he was the most targeted player for Jacksonville.
Smith was targeted five times in the first half, but only once in the second half, and with less than two minutes remaining in the game. He was targeted on a play in the end zone, but the ball was thrown too high. He also dropped a well thrown pass that he should have caught. Due to constant double-teaming by the Rams, Smith was not a factor in this game.
Williams left the game in the first quarter after hitting his head on the turf as he slid attempting to reel in the first pass thrown to him, and did not return until the second half. He was not a factor in the passing game.
Brady was used primarily as an extra blocker in this game.
Scobee made all three of his extra point attempts, but missed both field goal attempts. His two field goals attempts were from 44 and 49 yards, and though he had plenty of leg on the kicks, the ball went wide right on both occasions.
The Jaguars’ rush defense was solid in the first half, but was overrun by Steven Jackson in the second half. Jacksonville’s run defenders appeared a step slow in getting to Jackson’s outside runs, as he outran them several times to the corner for significant gains. This was especially evident on a 51 yard run by Jackson with less than two minutes remaining in the game, when the Jaguars’ defense was keying on him. Jacksonville’s run defense appeared to tire in the second half of the game. Their defensive line appeared to struggle attempting to contain Jackson from reaching the outside.
Jacksonville’s pass defense was aggressive and made several big plays, mostly by the secondary, which recorded three interceptions. Though they did not get to Jamie Martin very often and only recorded two sacks, the Jaguars’ defensive line remained aggressive and forced him into hurrying a few of his throws. The secondary made great plays to come up with two of the interceptions. Rashean Mathis was involved in all three of Jacksonville’s interceptions, recording two, and deflecting a pass for a teammate to record the third one. They were beaten once deep, which resulted in a touchdown in the first half, but held their own for most of the remainder of the game.
|QB Jamie Martin, Pass: 13 - 21 - 200 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0|
Martin looked comfortable directing the Rams’ offense. He capitalized on a strong running game to use play action passes to great advantage. When he threw long, he appeared comfortable and displayed a strong-enough arm for most of his throws. Martin spread the ball to various receivers, and did not lock onto any one receiver. He was at fault on one of his three interceptions, as he overthrew his receiver, but great plays by the Jaguars’ secondary contributed to the other two. He ended the game with respectable passing numbers, apart from the interceptions, and looked more comfortable directing the Rams’ offense.
Jackson had a complete game. He got better as the game progressed, and wore the very good Jacksonville run defense down as the game went on. Jackson ran very decisively and showed good judgment in deciding when to run with power or use his speed to get by defenders. He displayed good hands on the 19 yard screen pass he turned into a touchdown, and was the main reason the Rams won the game.
Faulk was not a factor in the passing game, but ran well when asked to. He ran up the middle on most of his six carries, but did not have enough touches to have a great impact on the game, although he averaged just under four yards per carry.
Looker continued to play the role of possession receiver, as he ran mostly short routes and routes over the middle. Two of the passes thrown his way were intercepted, one on a badly overthrown ball, and the other as a result of a deflection by the Jacksonville defender. He showed sure hands when given a chance to catch the ball.
Curtis showed off his speed and route running ability by running by the Jaguars’ top cornerback, Rashean Mathis for an 83 yard touchdown. While he was only targeted five times, he appeared to be a threat to have a big play each time he was involved in a pass play.
McDonald ran crisp routes, which enabled him to get open on two of the three times passes were thrown his way. However, he was not targeted in the second half, despite decent numbers in the first half.
Manumaleuna did not play much and was not utilized in the passing game except as an outlet receiver.
Wilkins attempted one field goal, which he made from 41 yards, and also made all three of the extra point attempts he tried.
The Rams' run defense was not a factor in the first half, as Fred Taylor ran at will against them, including a 71 yard run for a touchdown. Though they tightened up in the second half, they still allowed 165 yards rushing to Taylor, and a 45 yard run to his backup, Alvin Pearman. The Rams relied on run blitzing in an attempt to help their defensive line, and while successful at times, also gave up big runs to the Jacksonville running backs.
The Rams’ pass defense was very aggressive and relied on the blitz a lot. They kept sending linebackers and defensive backs throughout the game in an attempt to confuse Leftwich. They were successful in getting him to hurry some of his throws, especially in the fourth quarter as he was trying to rally his team. Although Ernest Wilford had a big receiving day, the Rams’ pass defense kept the other Jaguars players from being a factor in the passing game. On the last Jacksonville possession of the game, Leftwich had to hurry his throw as he was being blitzed by a Rams’ defensive back, and missed his intended receiver.