Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNHAPPY HOLIDAY; Late Fumble by Garrard Seals Costly Home Loss

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNHAPPY HOLIDAY; Late Fumble by Garrard Seals Costly Home Loss

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL C. WRIGHT

David Garrard scrambled left, looking for a miracle with less than two minutes remaining and his team trailing by three points.

What he found was the disappointment of a comeback falling short when Jarvis Green jarred the ball out of Garrard's hands and Rodney Harrison recovered to preserve a 24-21 victory for the New England Patriots.

"There can be times that every player in the league tries too hard," Garrard said. "To have the last drive come out the way it did, it hurts."

The 24 points New England scored Sunday were the most Jacksonville had surrendered all season at Alltel Stadium. Making the loss even more painful for the Jaguars is the effect it will have on their postseason hopes.

Before Sunday's game, the Jaguars needed to win their final two outings to guarantee a playoff berth.

Because of the loss, the Jaguars now need help from several teams, in addition to winning next week at Kansas City.

"Until I'm told we're out, I'm going to keep hope alive," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "We're obviously disappointed that we didn't get it done today. We were in control of our own destiny."

Not anymore.

Jacksonville posted comparable statistics to New England, finishing with 339 yards compared to the Patriots' 359. With 1:55 left to play, the Jaguars seemed poised to stage a rally. Down by three points, they took possession at their 45. Thanks to the defense forcing its only three-and-out of the day, the Jaguars had gained some momentum.

Then Garrard fumbled, scrambling out of the pocket.

"For a defensive [player], it's a sickening feeling," defensive end Paul Spicer said. "The defense, we had to get the ball back. [We] stopped them. We gave the offense a chance. They had great field position for the game to go the way it did."

The Jaguars are winless this season in games decided by three points or fewer.

They led just once, when running back Maurice Drew took a handoff and stumbled to the ground after colliding with tight end Kyle Brady. Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain could have touched Drew down near the line of scrimmage to end the play. Instead, Drew regained his footing and outran the defense for a 74-yard touchdown to give the Jaguars a 7-3 lead. It was the first of two scores for Drew, who finished with a game-high 131 rushing yards.

"The run doesn't mean anything because we didn't win," Drew said. "It wasn't enough."

Jacksonville's advantage disappeared a little more than seven minutes later when Corey Dillon scored on a 1-yard run. Entering Sunday's game, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a 59-2 record when his team led at halftime. Now he's 60-2.

The Patriots increased their lead to 17-7 on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Brady to David Thomas with 3:36 left in the third quarter. …

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