Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Goal: Exit Regular Season with Momentum; Division Title Secured, Jags Look to Avoid Losing Streak

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Goal: Exit Regular Season with Momentum; Division Title Secured, Jags Look to Avoid Losing Streak

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

Through Sunday, the Jaguars were one of six NFL teams without a losing streak this year.

Following losses to Tennessee, the Jets, the Rams and Arizona, the Jaguars rebounded to win by 37, 21, 27 and 20 points.

That bounce-back ability will be particularly important leading into the regular season finale at Tennessee.

The Jaguars' season is not on the line - they are the AFC South champions and will open the playoffs at home.

But limping into January on a two-game losing streak would not be ideal.

In fact, it would represent a crisis.

"The thing this team has always done is come back strong [after a loss] so I expect the same thing and I told them there will be heightened awareness," coach Doug Marrone said after the Jaguars' 44-33 loss at San Francisco.

Heightened awareness because Marrone saw what everybody else saw against the 49ers: A defense that was tuned up for nine plays of at least 15 yards. ... A quarterback (Blake Bortles) who threw a season-high three interceptions. ... A tailback (Leonard Fournette) whose longest carry was 7 yards. ... And a lack of discipline on defense that contributed to season-high 12 penalties.

That all of those issues arose in Week 16? Not good.

That they arose now instead of in January? Worth some solace.

The nature of the Sunday's loss produced an awkward scene in the post-game locker room.

In one regard, the Jaguars deserved to bask in their accomplishment - a first division title in 18 years. They have improved from 3-13 to 10-5. But nobody felt like putting on the championship apparel (T-shirts and hats were nowhere in sight) because of San Francisco's thorough pounding.

Nose tackle Abry Jones: "It was a normal losing locker room. I've never seen anybody up or proud after a loss. It's nice to win the division but we work hard to come out and win every Sunday. We didn't play to our standard. Guys were [ticked] off, mad and just quiet. We knew we didn't give our all out there."

Defensive end Calais Campbell: "We earned the division. We did everything up to this point. We're not wearing T-shirts and hats back [to Jacksonville], which would have been a nice experience. …

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