Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags' Hopes Turn as Black as Uniforms

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags' Hopes Turn as Black as Uniforms

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

For the first time in franchise history, the Jaguars wore all black. Black jerseys, black pants, black shoes, black helmets.

During pregame, AC/DC's Back in Black, seemingly part of a mandatory playlist for every NFL stadium, came thumping out of the loudspeakers.

Then the game began. And the hopes of taking the uniforms and turning them into a theme for the day -- back to .500, back in black -- quickly disappeared with three quarters of frustration, followed by one quarter of futile rally.

"There's no quit in us," quarterback Mark Brunell said after the Jaguars scored twice in the final 9 minutes, "but there needs to be start."

It's too late for this season. This was, if not mathematically then realistically, the end of playoff hopes.

When a two-point conversion failed with 76 seconds remaining and the Pittsburgh Steelers, wearing white for this road trip, finished off a 25-23 victory, the Jaguars dropped to 5-7 with four games to play -- four games that suddenly have a very different feel.

The Men in Black are two games into the red.

Let the post-mortem begin.

What went wrong, not just yesterday, but all year?

You tend to cut the defense some slack. This season it dealt with massive turnover, losing Kevin Hardy, Gary Walker, Seth Payne, Hardy Nickerson, etc. You expected this to be a transition year. But the offense?

The theory was that if the Big Three -- Brunell, Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor -- stayed healthy, this team could score some points. And although Brunell finished yesterday's game with a lacerated middle finger on his left hand, they have remained relatively healthy this season. Brunell, Smith, Taylor, tight end Kyle Brady and three offensive linemen have started every game. Yet, with one quarter of a season remaining, you keep waiting for the offense to take off. …

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