Jags look to rattle Brady, Patriots


Published: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
JACKSONVILLE - Few teams have been as disruptive as the Jacksonville Jaguars during pass plays this season. They ranked third in the league with 47 sacks and seventh in pass defense, allowing 184 yards a game.
They might need to be even better against New England and quarterback Tom Brady on Saturday night.
Brady has thrown 11 touchdowns versus three interceptions in nine playoff games, is unbeaten in the postseason and has three Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVP trophies.
"That's a big key to this game. We've got to get after Brady and try to rattle him a little bit," Jaguars linebacker Mike Peterson said Thursday.
With Corey Dillon averaging a career-low 3.5 yards a carry and still recovering from a calf injury, the Jaguars believe pressuring Brady and forcing him into some bad plays would give them the best shot at an upset.
"We need to find a way to get him out of his comfort zone," coach Jack Del Rio said. "He's arguably the best postseason quarterback that's ever played, and we certainly don't want him back there too comfortable all day. So we've got to do what we can to try and disrupt him whichever way we can, whether it's rush, coverage, combinations. We have to do something to not allow him to be as hot as he's capable of being."
It starts up front for the Jaguars. Defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson have commanded constant double teams, which create one-on-one matchups for ends Reggie Hayward, Paul Spicer, Rob Meier and Bobby McCray, a former Gator.
"They have good players. Not just (Stroud and Henderson), but certainly they're a big focus of it and they're right in the middle," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
"You have to deal with them every play. It's not like you have a corner where you can throw to the other side or you have an outside linebacker (where) you can run away from him. It's two tackles. There is no play where you can run that you don't have to block them."
Stroud and Henderson get most of the accolades, but the four ends have made most of the big plays this season. The foursome combined for 27 sacks, 103 quarterback pressures and six forced fumbles.
"They can definitely bring it," Belichick said.
They might need to against Brady, who led the NFL with a career-high 4,110 yards passing and ranked third with 26 touchdown passes. He did it with an offense beset by injuries and finished third in league MVP voting behind Seattle running back Shaun Alexander and Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning.
Known as one of the hardest workers on the team, Brady is revered for staying composed in the pocket, buying extra time and finding open receivers.
"He'll pick up on your mistakes so fast," Jags rookie safety Gerald Sensabaugh said. "If you have one little glitch in your defense, he's going to see it and make that throw. We're going to have to be on top of our game."
Jacksonville was the league's top team against the pass early in the season despite losing hard-hitting safety Donovin Darius with a knee injury. But the Jags slipped late, about the same time cornerback Rashean Mathis broke a finger.
They gave up 315 yards passing to Arizona's Kurt Warner, 324 to Manning and 295 to Houston's David Carr over the last six games. They allowed a 65-yard score from Manning to Marvin Harrison, and Carr burned the Jags for TD passes of 50 and 53 yards.
"We've given up some plays, but we're going to put it behind us and move on," Sensabaugh said.
Jacksonville's secondary knows it will need to play better against Brady and New England's talented receiving trio of Deion Branch, David Givens and Troy Brown. Slowing them down could pay dividends.
The Patriots were badly outplayed in their first five losses - to Carolina, San Diego, Denver, Indianapolis and Kansas City. Brady didn't throw for more than 300 yards against any of them, even though he had to bring his team from behind.
The Jaguars hope to join that list. "We're going to get after him and see what happens," Stroud said.

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