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No Rest for Jaguar Defense

September 18, 2000|From Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Embarrassed by four second-half touchdowns in a bitter loss a week earlier, the Jacksonville Jaguars were determined to prove their defense is good enough to carry the load.

They stated their case Sunday with the first shutout in franchise history--even if it came at the expense of the lowly Cincinnati Bengals.

Mark Brunell celebrated his 30th birthday with a 21-yard touchdown pass that initially was ruled out of bounds, and Gary Walker and the rest of the defense took over from there in a 13-0 victory over the Bengals.

"I made everyone aware before the game that this team had never had a shutout," said Walker, who disrupted the middle of the line with five tackles and two sacks. "I said that today would be a good time to get one."

It wasn't all that difficult.

The Bengals (0-2) have scored one touchdown in two games this year. Akili Smith had two passes intercepted and was sacked five times. Corey Dillon rushed for only 32 yards in 17 carries.

Brunell completed 20 of 32 passes for 176 yards and was sacked four times. Without running back Fred Taylor for the third consecutive game, the Jaguars managed only 85 yards rushing--25 by Brunell and 20 on a reverse by R. Jay Soward, their longest play from scrimmage.

But the Jaguars (2-1) got 10 points in a span of 1 minute 47 seconds midway through the first quarter. Against Cincinnati, that's all they needed in a sloppy, lifeless game.

"After last week, we made a commitment to give our best and to finish," said linebacker Hardy Nickerson, who had an interception in his home debut with the Jaguars. "You get a shutout, that's something special."

The Bengals crossed midfield only four times and never got farther than the 27. Smith completed 18 of 41 passes for 183 yards and spent most of the game on the run.

"We're just not in sync," Coach Bruce Coslet said. "We just need to stay together and keep playing and keep trying to improve."

Perhaps because of the threat of heavy rain from Hurricane Gordon, the 45,653 for the Jaguars' first home game of the season was the smallest crowd in their six-year history.

Neither team played inspired in a game that featured more mistakes than big plays, and not much rain.

The Bengals didn't get a first down until early in the second quarter. The Jaguars squandered a couple of scoring chances on a missed 33-yard field-goal attempt by Steve Lindsey and Brunell's lone interception at the 10, which was tipped and caught by Steve Foley.

The Bengals' deepest drive was to the 27 early in the second quarter, but Neil Rackers missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt.

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