Jaguars tear down Titans

Tennessee Titans receiver Ben Troupe, left, is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars defender John Henderson following a pass reception in the second quarter on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2006, in Jacksonville, Fla.

AP Photo/Phil Coale
Published: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Bring on the champs. The regular season became a memory Sunday evening following the Jaguars' 40-13 pummelling of Tennessee in front of a crowd of 65,485 at Alltel Stadium. In fact it may as well have been over last week when Jacksonville clinched the No. 5 seed with a 38-20 victory at Houston, allowing coach Jack Del Rio to rest numerous starters including tailback Fred Taylor, fullback Greg Jones, defensive end Reggie Hayward and right guard Chris Naeole against the Titans (4-12).
But now, the Jaguars (12-4) will get serious again.
All of those players are scheduled to start in next Saturday's 8 p.m. wild-card game at two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England (10-6). Also expected back against the AFC East winners is quarterback Byron Leftwich, who dressed Sunday for the first time since breaking his ankle Nov. 27 at Arizona. Leftwich was cleared by the medical staff and was Jacksonville's third quarterback against Tennessee, but was held out by Del Rio in order to avoid unnecessary risks.
That won't be the case against the fourth-seeded Patriots.
"If Byron doesn't have any setbacks, he's our starting quarterback," Del Rio said.
Fortunately for the Jaguars, if Leftwich does have a setback, backup David Garrard has played well, going 4-1 as a starter.
"That's been my job the last four years - to be ready when I'm needed," said Garrard, who was 10-of-16 for 128 yards against the Titans before giving way to Quinn Gray in the second half. "That's what I can do now - be ready. I have to continue to focus and get myself mentally prepared in practice.
"I know Byron is going to do all he can to get ready. I have to do the same."
Jacksonville is 8-1 since a 24-21 loss at St. Louis on Oct. 30. And since Nov. 13 the Jaguars have scored at least 30 points four times, not bad for a team that hadn't hit that mark in 58 games prior to that date.
They enter the postseason 2-3 against the rest of the AFC's playoff teams, having beaten Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and lost to Indianapolis (twice) and Denver.
New England, which captured its last Super Bowl at Alltel Stadium, is the only AFC playoff team Jacksonville hasn't faced this season. The Patriots had won four straight before losing 28-26 to Miami on Sunday in a game where coach Bill Belichick also rested numerous starters.
The Jaguars are expected to enter the contest healthy, though Leftwich, linebacker Mike Peterson (sprained right wrist) and cornerback Kenny Wright (sprained left knee) will be watched closely throughout the short week of practice.
"If we continue our momentum and continue to execute, we should do well," Taylor said. "Saturday night will determine a lot about us."
You can reach John Patton by calling 374-5074 or by e-mail at

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