Defense recovers to slow Jags to crawl

It had been 329 days since the Jacksonville Jaguars last scored a touchdown inside the empty confines of EverBank Field.

It had been even longer since the Jags won there.

When the Arizona Cardinals made the cross-country trip this weekend, trading in desert sunshine for beach rays, they would’ve rather both of those streaks continue another week, but if one had to end, they preferred the former rather than the latter. And it did, probably earlier than anyone expected.

The Jags scored on their first two drives Sunday, putting the Cardinals in a seven-point hole after the first quarter. But that’s all Jacksonville would get. After getting 111 yards in the first quarter, the Jags managed just 163 for the rest of the game.

“We knew once we settled down a little bit and they got rid of the gimmicks, they had to play football,” linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “In the second half we were ready to play football and we took over the game. We played hard, sound and fast. Once we got past all the gimmicks, the tricks they had up their sleeve, they had to come back to reality.”

Jacksonville skipped the conventional plays and went to the gimmicks to start the game and it worked. They also took advantage of one of the Cardinals’ only liabilities: covering tight ends.

Chad Henne’s first three completions -- including a 62-yard touchdown – were all to tight ends. After a raucous first quarter, the Cardinals settled down on defense, especially up front. Arizona held Jacksonville to just 13 yards through three quarters, eliminating Maurice Jones-Drew as a threat. It forced the Jags to take to the air enough times that defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said after the game that he expected the Jags to run more.

But after Henne threw for 105 yards in the first quarter he tossed for just 150 the rest of the game.

“I thought we did a great job against the passing game,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “This is the most screens I’ve ever seen in my life in one game so I believe it’s a credit to our defensive coordinator, our secondary.”