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Jaguars Change Their Losing Ways

October 30, 2000|From Associated Press

IRVING, Texas — The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to enjoy this week more than any in a long time.

Alvis Whitted turned a short pass from Mark Brunell into a 37-yard touchdown on the first drive of overtime Sunday, stopping Jacksonville's five-game losing streak with a 23-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

The Jaguars (3-6) will have something to savor during their bye week and will try using it to salvage a season that began with realistic Super Bowl hopes. It's better than the alternative if Jacksonville had to stew over another loss, especially in a game it led, 17-7, at halftime.

"Just not to have to deal with the negativity for two weeks will be great," Jaguar Coach Tom Coughlin said. "I'm looking forward to that myself."

No wonder they celebrated like a college team.

Whitted, who also caught a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter, was mobbed by teammates in the end zone. Brunell held his arms high and Jimmy Smith, whose injury put Whitted into the lineup, hugged Coughlin, then hobbled onto the field.

The party continued in the locker room. Brunell was so fired up that he couldn't wait to stop talking to reporters and rejoin his teammates.

"It's good to see people smiling again," said Brunell, who was 20 of 24 for 231 yards and three touchdowns. "We've been saying all along that all we need is one to turn it around. We haven't had that much fun in a long time."

The Cowboys (3-5) again failed in a bid to win consecutive games, even after pounding Arizona 48-7 last week. They're also facing new questions about quarterback Troy Aikman's health.

Dallas committed three turnovers to set up 10 Jacksonville points, but rallied to tie the game in the final minute of regulation.

"We have a rule that we can only talk about a game for 24 hours. That's going to be a tough one to follow this week," defensive lineman Greg Ellis said.

Aikman threw a 13-yard touchdown pass on Dallas' first drive, but reinjured an aching back early in the series after being slammed to the turf by defensive end Tony Brackens.

Aikman, who received six painkilling shots on Monday, took himself out of the game during the next possession and received another shot. He could not get loose and returned to the bench with 10 seconds left in the third quarter with no intention of playing.

"I had trouble getting under center and taking a snap, so there was really no question," said Aikman, who completed four of five passes for 43 yards. As for next week, Aikman said, "I'm hoping so, but I couldn't definitively say."

Randall Cunningham, who filled in nicely earlier this season and was the fan's choice when Aikman struggled upon his return, was 13 of 20 for 177 yards. In the second quarter, his interception and fumble led to a Jacksonville touchdown and field goal, respectively.

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