Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook

Article excerpt

Byline: Bart Hubbuch, Times-Union sports writer

BUS STOPPED UNTIL LATE

Jerome Bettis' 40-yard romp for Pittsburgh in the fourth quarter yesterday all but clinched the game and marred an otherwise suffocating display by the Jaguars' run defense.

Bettis began the day as the second-leading rusher in the NFL but was held to a microscopic 8 yards on his first 18 carries. But after a Jonathan Quinn fumble deep in Pittsburgh territory took the life out of the Jaguars, Bettis polished them off on the next play with his long run off right tackle.

Even so, the Jaguars could be proud of themselves after limiting Bettis to 52 yards in 21 attempts. That was 56 yards below his 108-yard average per game. Bettis was averaging 0.4 yards per carry yesterday before his breakout run.

"Bettis is the league's leading rusher in the fourth quarter, so everybody knew [the long run] was going to happen," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said. "But I'm not going to chastise our defense over that one run."

And with good reason, because the overall effort against Bettis certainly wasn't out of character for the Jaguars this season. Their defense has faced Bettis, Tennessee's Eddie George and Cincinnati's Corey Dillon a combined five times this year, but none of those Pro Bowl backs from the AFC Central has had more than 80 yards in any of those games.

"That's all well and good, but we're still 3-6 and at the bottom of the division," linebacker Kevin Hardy said. "That's all that matters."

TAYLOR TRAVELS BUT SITS

Running back Fred Taylor could be closer to coming back after he traveled with the Jaguars for yesterday's game.

Taylor, who has missed the past eight games because of a severe groin strain suffered Sept. 23, had stayed in Jacksonville to work on his recovery during each of the Jaguars' previous three road games. But he was in sweats on the sideline yesterday, cheering on his teammates.

"It was good to be with the fellows, hearing the away crowd noise," Taylor said.

At the same time, Taylor said the trip wasn't helpful because it prevented him from rehabilitating. That's why Taylor didn't know if he would be able to play in this weekend's home game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Taylor was listed as questionable by the Jaguars on their injury report last week, but Coughlin said yesterday there was no chance he would play.

HANSON SHINES AGAIN

At this rate, punter Chris Hanson might end up as the Jaguars' most valuable player.

The journeyman free agent, signed late in the preseason, averaged 46.6 yards on seven attempts, including a 51-yarder, and had three punts downed inside the Steelers' 20-yard line.

Putting the ball inside the 20 is nothing new to Hanson, who did that four times the week before in a victory over Cincinnati. …

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