A team 22 years in the making, the Jacksonville Jaguars history with football is brief; nothing more than a fleeting glimpse compared to other NFL juggernauts. The Jaguars, now in turmoil in their desperate attempt to leave purgatory, faced the opposite effect of expansion teams. Becoming an AFC juggernaut minutes into their genesis, they remain hungry to chase their former glory. Despite postseason hits and misses, amazing moments have been sprinkled throughout their existence. Here are the top 10 moments in Jacksonville Jaguars history.
10. David Garrard‘s Hail Mary
It’s 2010. Three years removed from their last playoff run and Garrard’s last ride in turquoise. While the season ended with a disappointing 8-8 finish, it was the last time they landed .500.
Quarterback David Garrard’s last hurrah came with one of the most exciting Hail Mary’s in NFL history. NFL Network ranked the wild ending as the No. 8 greatest Hail Mary play of all time.
The game seemed destined for overtime with the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars knotted up at 24 apiece. The last ditch effort sailed 50 yards downfield into the hands of the Texans. The defender knew to swat the ball instead of going for the interception highlight. But his swat landed right into the paws of Mike Thomas for the game winning touchdown.
9. Maurice Jones-Drew And Fred Taylor Have A Game For The Ages
The Indianapolis Colts stormed the league with a 9-0 start including a win over their dreaded New England rival. Before they finally tasted Super Bowl glory, they had the pesky Jags in their way. The game made little difference to the eventual world champions, but it was a quite a statement for a team reeling through rebuilds.
The Jacksonville Jaguars romped the Colts 44-17. Rookie running back Jones-Drew threw up 166 rushing yards on the ground and topped it off with a 93-yard kick return score. He finished the game with three total touchdowns.
The veteran back, Fred Taylor’s blazing start gave way for Jones-Drew’s breakthrough performance. Taylor finished the game with 131 yards on just nine carries before sitting out due to a hamstring injury.
This symbolic game was a passing of the torch between Taylor and Drew.
8. Pocket Hercules’ Defining Season
But amongst all the chaos and shuffling, Jones-Drew kept things afloat. He trod water and put together one of the best single seasons for a running back in recent memory. He crossed the threshold of the 100-yard mark six times and trucked his way towards 1,606 yards. Jones-Drew led the league in rushing by almost 250 yards. Claiming All-Pro first-team honors, he became the first Jaguar to do so since Rashean Mathis.
His bowling ball style of play worked with his durability. As the Jaguars limped to the finish line in Week 17, Drew finished the year with a season high. While his numbers don’t match the all-time elites, his heroic performance will be remembered in Jags history.
7. Jacksonville’s Franchise Altering Trades
Two players that defined Jaguars history during their quick run of dominance came through trades that changed their course in history. Mark Brunell originally lined up behind Favre and the cheeseheads until Jacksonville picked up the phone.
When the Jaguars finally came to fruition, they sought after Brunell to be the backup behind Steve Beuerlein. Five games later Brunell took the reins and gave them their first win in franchise history. What would follow would be an explosive yet brief AFC South dynasty.
Their dominant run could not have come without Brunell’s right-hand man (or left-hand in Brunell’s case), the Jaguars all time leading rusher Fred Taylor. Swapping Rob Johnson after a gorgeous Jacksonville debut for two draft picks seemed controversial, but it paid off. Taylor would run through record books while Johnson was run out of town in Buffalo.
6. David Garrard’s Lone Playoff Win
After their dominant run in the late 90’s, one game is all they have for playoff success. In their last seventeen years as a franchise, this wild card win is everything. The Del Rio-Garrard combo hit its peak in 2007 when they faced Big Ben.
Both quarterbacks severely struggled. They combined for five interceptions and Roethlisberger’s unfavorable 79.2 passer rating looked legendary compared to Garrard’s egregious 41.9 mark. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew barely hit 75 yards as a duo with a paltry 3.2 yards per carry.
But the game’s box score didn’t paint the full picture. The Steelers are playoff masters. Big Ben by his senior year was already 5-1 in the playoffs with a ring on his finger. But with the game winding down and the Steelers clinging to a 29-28 lead, Garrard made magic happen.
After Pittsburgh threw up 19 furious points in the final frame, Garrard took a quarterback draw 32 yards deep on a fourth and two. With under two minutes to go, Garrard secured the win by putting them into field goal range. The eventual chip shot gave the Jags their last playoff celebration.
5. Jimmy Smith Trumps 2000 Ravens
The 2000 Ravens rolled over everybody. They allowed merely 10 points a game, an NFL record for a 16-game schedule. They allowed 60.6 rushing yards per game, another NFL record. They recovered 26 fumbles. Double the second highest team’s amount.
In the end, ESPN ranked them as the third greatest defense of all time. And they topped it off with a ring. But not everything came as a walk in the park. Despite dropping two games to Baltimore, Jacksonville gave them the fight of their lives. Losing by a combined eight points, their first dogfight went down to the wire. All thanks to Jimmy Smith. Every defense has its kryptonite, and the Ravens could not contain Lightning Smith.
He finished with 291 yards on 15 receptions and three touchdowns in their 36-39 Week 2 thriller. Ranking as the fourth greatest receiver performance in NFL history according to ESPN; his effort against one of the greatest defenses makes it all the more remarkable.
4. Jacksonville’s 1999 Season
The pinnacle of their success is clouded by their far too soon downfall. But for an expansion team to dominate the way they did at such a quick pace is nothing short of remarkable. Tom Coughlin rounded up his big three of Brunell-Smith-Taylor and had their best collective season.
They went 14-2 and claimed the top seed in the entire NFL. They finished their journey at the Super Bowl doorstep for the second time in four years. While a Super Bowl berth would’ve meant wonders to the freshly fabricated unit, their 1999 accomplishments still remain incredible.
It only took six pro bowlers and Coughlin to clean up their teal and gold uniforms and they ran the AFC. Tony Boselli and Kevin Hardy represented Jacksonville on the All-Pro teams. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers anchored the best defense that season allowing only 13.6 points per game while the Pro Bowl duo of Brunell and Smith carried the offense as the sixth strongest. It all started with their amazing 41-3 win over San Francisco and unfortunately ended at the hands of Tennessee.
3. Jacksonville’s 5-0 End Of The Season Run
After stumbling to a 1-3 start and snowballing it to an abhorrent 4-7 record, the Jaguars made history. With Baltimore being four point favorites, Jacksonville rallied off 15 unanswered points to force overtime. A field goal later they won and saw themselves at 5-7. Another upset against the Oilers followed en route to four more wins and the Jaguars finished at 9-7. Just in time to play some January football.
It took everything to claw into the postseason. Jimmy Smith had to become a starter over Andre Rison. Morten Andersen had to miss a 30-yard game winning chip shot. But they proved their worthiness amongst the AFC’s elite in the playoffs.
This upstart scrappy squad put Jacksonville on the map and it will go down as one of Tom Coughlin’s greatest achievements.
2. Jacksonville Stuns Elway’s Broncos
A year before Elway’s career ascended to new heights with back-to-back Super Bowl victories; he ran into the pesky Jaguars. The Jaguars meant business after shocking the world on our third selection on the list.
Defeating John Elway at Mile High put a serious stamp on their ridiculous regular season run. While getting into the playoffs is one thing, it’s a whole other animal tearing down postseason powerhouses. And the Jaguars almost became the kings of the animal kingdom in 1996.
After sending Jim Kelly into retirement, they took down the 13-3 Broncos 30-27 after finding themselves 12.5 point underdogs. It was a clean, turnover-less game that featured Brunell’s 289 total yards with over 200 combined yards on the ground. In their second year of existence, pulling off the seventh greatest upset in NFL history according to Bleacher Report is an amazing way to start a franchise.
1. Embarrassing Loss Forces Marino’s Retirement
Known as the greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl, his shortcomings in January are plentiful. However, none stick out more than 1999’s divisional round loss. Already going through his worst season as a pro, the combo of himself with Jimmy Johnson couldn’t muster anymore postseason charm than before.
The bad boys of Emerald City went 14-2 and awaited the aging Fins. This was only their second home playoff game in franchise history and they made the best of it.
The final score was 62-7. Dan Marino didn’t even finish the game with his 34.6 passer rating. Jacksonville forced seven turnovers including five fumbles and gave up just 131 total yards. On the other side of the ball, they ran up and down the field for 520 yards. And of course, Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor did their part; combining for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
Alas, their season ended by their ultimate kryptonite; Tennessee. For the third time, they lost to the Titans but this time in the AFC Title game. This was their last taste of greatness with just two playoff appearances over the next seventeen years.