Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Coughlin 1, Spurrier 0; Ol' Ball Coach Pitches It around, but Runs out of Gas

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Coughlin 1, Spurrier 0; Ol' Ball Coach Pitches It around, but Runs out of Gas

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino, Times-Union sports writer

Tom Coughlin did everything but click his heels yesterday.

After the Jaguars took a 23-7 lead over Steve Spurrier and the Washington Redskins late in the third period, the Jaguars coach jumped up and down on the sidelines in a display of elation.

When Coughlin headed toward the locker room after the Jaguars recorded a 26-7 victory, he was hugged in the hallway by his wife, Judy. He even gave the players today off as a reward for the victory.

Coughlin was saluted by cheers from among the 66,665 fans at Alltel Stadium -- just two weeks after he heard boos and was spit on by a fan after a 21-19 loss to the expansion Houston Texans.

The game turned on the play of the Jaguars' special teams. Chris Hanson had three punts downed inside the 7, helping to set up the Jaguars first 13 points, and kicker Tim Seder made four field goals.

The Redskins charged to a 7-0 lead, but cornerback Jason Craft turned the game around late in the first quarter when he made the Jaguars' first interception in six games -- a span of 22 quarters and 192 passes -- to stop the Redskins' momentum.

Coughlin, meanwhile, downplayed the idea of a personal duel with Spurrier. Many Jaguars fans had hoped Spurrier would replace Coughlin when the "ol' ball coach" left the University of Florida after last season.

"This was our football team against the Washington Redskins, and that's exactly what it was," Coughlin said. "Steve is an excellent football coach. He's a friend. It wasn't about any carnival or sideshow that was being created by the media."

The players, though, felt this meant something extra for Coughlin.

"This is obviously a special win for him and a special win for this football team," quarterback Mark Brunell said.

Craft said the Jaguars won for Coughlin.

"We got the win for all of us," he added.

And cornerback Fernando Bryant said Coughlin did take the challenge personally.

"Everybody has egos. Let's be honest. Let's call a spade a spade," Bryant said. "Everybody was talking about how Spurrier should have been the head coach here. If you're a man, you take that personal. I'm glad he did. I would be disappointed if he didn't. Somebody is coming into your stadium and the fans are talking they're going to root for him more than you. Of course you take that personal."

Many Jaguars fans also took the Coughlin-Spurrier matchup personally. Although there was a contingent of Redskins fans at the game, the Jaguars fans owned the stadium.

"I thought the fans were incredible," Brunell said. "The energy in the stadium was something we haven't had in some time. I was impressed. It was as loud as it's been in years. It was what we needed."

The victory came after Coughlin put the players in pads for practice last week to help boost the team's intensity. …

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