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THE 1996 NFL

Jaguars Put an Aggressive End to Panthers' Perfection

September 30, 1996|From Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguar players and coaches were getting a little tired of the comparisons between their team and the Carolina Panthers.

The Jaguars, overshadowed by the success of Carolina, pummeled quarterback Steve Beuerlein in his return to Jacksonville and dominated the Panthers in a 24-14 victory Sunday, the first meeting between last year's expansion teams.

"It was a day for some statements to be made," Jaguar Coach Tom Coughlin said.

He was talking about the Jaguars' recent failures at running the ball and at making big plays with the game on the line. Still, the first meeting yielded high intensity, several skirmishes and two consecutive personal fouls on the Jaguars for their hits on Beuerlein.

"If they feel like this is their Super Bowl, so be it," said Carolina linebacker Lamar Lathon.

The Panthers, 7-9 a year ago, were one of four unbeaten teams in the league when the day started, leading the NFC West with a 3-0 record.

The Jaguars, 4-12 in their expansion season, had lost three in a row and were on the verge of another collapse.

"It's a natural rivalry. We had the edge for awhile, and Jacksonville got sick of that," Carolina offensive tackle Greg Skrepenak said. "I would too, if I were them."

Mark Brunell, who beat out Beuerlein for the starting job last season, completed 15 of 27 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown for the Jaguars (2-3). His scrambling set up one touchdown in the first quarter, and also put the Jaguars in position for Mike Hollis' 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half, giving them a 17-0 lead.

Beuerlein didn't play a role in any of the Jaguars' four victories last year. He was making his second consecutive start for the Panthers (3-1) in place of Kerry Collins, who injured his knee two weeks ago.

Beuerlein was booed by the fans and got even harsher treatment from the Jaguars, who sacked him five times and were constantly in the backfield. Beuerlein left because of a knee injury after fleeing the pocket. Collins replaced him and threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Mark Carrier with 4:07 left.

Beuerlein completed 15 of 30 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown. He was treated for 45 minutes after the game for dehydration.

"It seemed like everyone wanted to kill him," Skrepenak said.

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