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AFC ROUNDUP

Jaguar Defense Too Tough Again

September 27, 2004|From Associated Press

The Jacksonville Jaguars are proving that with a good defense, any kind of offense will do.

Fred Taylor ran one yard for a touchdown with nine seconds left Sunday, and the Jaguars beat Tennessee, 15-12, for the franchise's first victory at the Coliseum in Nashville.

Jacksonville is 3-0 despite scoring only 35 points this season.

Of course, the Jaguars have given up only 28.

"Our defense is outstanding," Taylor said. "They keep us in it and give us a chance to win. I don't want to say we have the luxury of starting slow, because that just isn't how you want to play."

The Jaguars sacked Steve McNair three times and knocked him out of the game in the fourth quarter because of a bruised sternum. He watched the final minutes from the sideline as the Titans lost for the second time in three weeks, then was taken to a hospital for more tests.

"I don't tell Steve not to run," Titan Coach Jeff Fisher said. "He took this game over and gave us a chance to put a scoring drive together with the two runs. That's the risk he takes."

Byron Leftwich also threw for a touchdown as the Jaguars won their first three games for the first time since 1998 and stayed alone atop the AFC South.

Tennessee had dominated this series since 1999, winning nine of the previous 11 games and each of the first five games played in the Coliseum.

But the Jaguars said they didn't care about history with 36 players added since the end of the 2002 season. They limited Tennessee and McNair to 249 yards of total offense.

*

Baltimore 23, Cincinnati 9 -- After two subpar efforts, Raven running back Jamal Lewis found his stride at Cincinnati. He ran for 186 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown sprint that clinched the victory.

Kyle Boller ran for a touchdown and threw for another, but had two costly fumbles that prevented the Ravens (2-1) from pulling away until Lewis unleashed his fourth-quarter run.

Lewis topped 2,000 yards last year but had found little room to run this season. He managed only 57 in a season-opening loss to Cleveland, and Pittsburgh limited him to 62 yards a week later.

For the second consecutive game, the Bengal offense failed to score a touchdown behind second-year quarterback Carson Palmer, who was hit often by a blitzing defense. Linebacker Ray Lewis drew a 15-yard penalty for slamming into the quarterback's head after he released a pass. Lewis also recovered Palmer's first-half fumble.

Palmer was 25 of 52 for 316 yards for Cincinnati (1-2) but was sacked four times and had his passes intercepted three times.

*

Houston 24, Kansas City 21 -- Kris Brown kicked a 50-yard field goal with two seconds left at Kansas City, Mo., keeping the defending AFC West champions winless.

The Texans put together three plays of 20 or more yards against the Chiefs (0-3) in the fourth quarter. On the winning drive, Houston (1-2) marched 42 yards in 2:16 to set up the field goal.

The victory came despite 76 yards rushing. Priest Holmes, who has a sprained ankle, ran for 134 yards and became the Chiefs' leading career rusher. Holmes broke Christian Okoye's record of 4,897 yards.

*

Denver 23, San Diego 13 -- Ashley Lelie made a fourth-down gamble pay off for the Broncos at Denver, catching a momentum-shifting touchdown pass in the third quarter.

In a showdown between 2002 first-round draft picks, the 6-foot-3 Lelie jumped over 6-0 cornerback Quentin Jammer to catch a 33-yard lob from Jake Plummer on fourth and nine.

It gave the Broncos (2-1) a 10-point lead late in the third quarter. Just as important, it stifled the momentum San Diego (1-2) gained moments earlier when the Chargers recovered Quentin Griffin's fumble and converted it into a touchdown to cut Denver's lead to 13-10.

*

Pittsburgh 13, Miami 3 -- Unfazed by torrential rain in the first half from the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne, Pittsburgh (2-1) forced four turnovers, made a key fourth-down stop and beat the Dolphins at Miami. The Dolphins, who have scored 23 points in three games, fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1969.

Steeler rookie Ben Roethlisberger, making his first NFL start, was intercepted on his first pass but otherwise avoided costly mistakes despite the slippery ball and footing. He finished 12 of 22 for 163 yards and one score. Announced attendance was 72,225, but with Florida just beginning to recover from its latest hurricane, the crowd was about 30,000.

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