Jags' Garrard Runs to Daylight
Starkey, Joe, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Right before his team's final drive Saturday night, Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio pulled his offense together on the sidelines and said, "Guys, you gotta love it ... I mean, here we are."
There they were, all right, a little more than two minutes away from completing the biggest fourth-quarter collapse in NFL playoff history.
The Jaguars entered the fourth quarter of this wild, wild, Wild- Card playoff game with a 28-10 lead but trailed 29-28 when they took possession on their 49 with 2:28 left.
The final piece of Del Rio's sideline speech -- as he later recounted it -- went like this: "Let's have fun, make some plays and win this ballgame. Right here."
They did so because quarterback David Garrard made the longest run of the game on 4th-and-2 from the Steelers' 43 with the season hanging in the balance.
Seconds earlier, facing a 3rd-and-2, Garrard pleaded to run the quarterback draw. He was overruled and threw an incomplete pass. He got his wish on fourth down, with the Heinz Field crowd raising a holy din and the Jags out of timeouts.
Garrard dropped back as if to pass -- rarely a good option on this day -- and quickly shot through the middle. The first down came easy. The end zone beckoned. Garrard managed to avoid Steelers safety Tyrone Carter long enough to complete a 32-yard run. That was the longest run of the game by 22 yards.
"I'm a big guy," said the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Garrard. "Two yards is something I know if just dig down and lower my head, I can at least push somebody for two yards. I wanted the ball in my hands. I was happy to get that opportunity."
Carter finally brought Garrard down at the Steelers' 11. The run set up Josh Scobee's 25-yard field goal with 40 seconds left. The Jaguars hung on for 31-29 victory, the franchise's first playoff win in eight years. …