Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

There They Go Again Brunell-Smith Combination as Good as Ever

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

There They Go Again Brunell-Smith Combination as Good as Ever

Article excerpt

Byline: Bart Hubbuch, Times-Union sports writer

Never mind their lack of depth and salary cap problems.

As long as they still have Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith, the Jaguars can't fathom why anyone would think they're short-handed.

The Pittsburgh Steelers would have to agree after being burned repeatedly by the Jaguars' prolific passing combination in a 21-3 Jacksonville victory at Alltel Stadium.

To the surprise of no one, least of all the Steelers, a team-high eight of Brunell's 15 completions went to Smith. Brunell's longtime favorite target covered 126 yards on those eight receptions and scored twice.

No one ever said the Jaguars lacked offensive star power. Smith and Brunell merely offered a reminder yesterday.

"Jimmy Smith is a big-time player," Brunell said after connecting with Smith on touchdowns for the 31st and 32nd time of his career. "He's about as good as you get at his position. He has everything -- strength, speed, the ability to run routes. He makes my job easy."

Smith's mere presence in the Jaguars' lineup against Pittsburgh was remarkable by itself. The four-time Pro Bowl pick thought his career might be over after three abdominal surgeries in the offseason.

But Smith surprised even the Jaguars with a speedy comeback, which he capped with an exclamation point yesterday by hauling in touchdown catches of 34 and 15 yards in the second quarter.

The two TD receptions gave Smith 40 in his Jaguars career, enabling him to break the team career record he shared with James Stewart.

"I'm ready to go," Smith said after his big day against the Steelers. "I'm ready to have a big season."

The Jaguars thought Smith would have a big day yesterday because the Steelers were without Chad Scott, their best cornerback, due to a knee injury. That left Smith against Deshea Townsend and Dwayne Washington, and Smith made the most of it.

"What can you say? There he goes again," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said of Smith. "He had a huge day and came up with play after play. It just brings a smile to your face."

Especially to Brunell's face. Due to various injuries, the Jaguars' Pro Bowl quarterback had not been surrounded by his full supporting cast for even one play during the preseason. …

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