Jacksonville, Fla. The Jacksonville Jaguars are getting good at bouncing back from embarrassing losses.
David Garrard threw for 264 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown pass to Mike Sims-Walker, and the Jaguars rebounded from a lopsided loss at Tennessee with a 24-21 victory against Kansas City on Sunday.
Up and down all season, the Jaguars (4-4) responded in similar fashion following losses to Arizona and Seattle.
“There’s only so much bouncing back you can do before there’s no more bouncing to do,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “It’s something to hang your hat on, to know that we’re going to fight, but at the same time we have to learn to be consistent.”
Consistency hasn’t been Jacksonville’s forte. Coach Jack Del Rio ripped his team’s defensive effort following a 30-13 loss at the Titans last week, calling it “insulting, ugly and embarrassing.” He considered putting his players through live tackling drills this week, but settled for an intense, full-pads practice.
He also switched back to a 4-3 defensive scheme.
It worked, at least against Kansas City (1-7). Playing without suspended running back Larry Johnson, the Chiefs managed little offense until late in the fourth quarter.
“We brought a different attitude to the game,” Jaguars linebacker Clint Ingram said. “It’s not a time for us to start beating ourselves on the chest and patting ourselves on the back. It’s one game. It’s good that we won it, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do and a lot of corrections to make and a lot of stuff to clean up.”
Indeed. With left tackle Branden Albert and center Rudy Niswanger back in the lineup, Matt Cassel threw for 262 yards and two scores — both to newcomer Chris Chambers.
Claimed off waivers Tuesday from San Diego, Chambers caught a 54-yard TD pass with 2:32 to play. Placekicker Ryan Succop recovered an onside kick after it bounced off Atiyyah Ellison, Cassel hooked up with Dwayne Bowe for 36 yards and then found Chambers near the sideline for a five-yard score.
The Chiefs made the two-point conversion, cutting the lead to 24-21 with a little more than a minute to play.
But Jaguars fullback Greg Jones recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Maurice Jones-Drew sealed the victory with a first-down run.
“I’m glad we didn’t quit,” said Chambers, who finished with three catches for 70 yards. “We can build on this.”
Cassel completed 23 of 39 passes, but was sacked three times. Bowe and Lance Long each finished with 74 yards receiving.
The Jaguars, though, refused to give the Chiefs much credit for the comeback.
“They were throwing the ball up, and a couple of receivers made some plays,” Mathis said. “It wasn’t like they were picking us apart or anything. It was just throwing Hail Marys down the field and they made some great grabs. That’s nothing for us to be concerned about. When we had to get after them and put the game away, we did.”
Until Cassel and Chambers connected late, punter Dustin Colquitt had the team’s three top highlights. He had a 70-yard punt, a 59-yarder, and tackled Mathis by the dreadlocks after he returned a failed 56-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get into a rhythm early on,” said Cassel, who passed for 135 yards on his final two TD drives. “The guys made some big plays. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough at the end. We have to just start early.”
The Jaguars had plenty of bright spots.
Rookies Rashad Jennings, Jarret Dillard and Mike Thomas were impressive. Sims-Walker caught six passes for a career-high 147 yards. He had a long TD catch that made it 14-6 late in the second quarter, then added a 45-yard reception that set up Josh Scobee’s 27-yard field goal in the third.
Jones-Drew ran 29 times for 97 yards, including a 10-yard TD run that made it 24-6. It was his 11th TD run of the season.
The Jaguars sacked Cassel three times and allowed just 162 yards until those two late drives — a much better effort than Del Rio saw in Tennessee.
“It’s time for us to surge as a football team,” Del Rio said. “We need that.”
Notes: The game was blacked out on local television and in secondary markets, and announced attendance was 45,516. ... Cassel has been sacked 27 times in seven starts, including 22 the last five games. ... Jones-Drew broke Fred Taylor’s franchise record for most yards rushing through eight games. Taylor had 690 in 2002. Jones-Drew now has 737. ... Jags WR Torry Holt became the 10th player in NFL history with 900 receptions.