A trip to Dallas and subsequent 35-17 beatdown of the shockingly bad Cowboys was exactly what the Jaguars needed to even their record to 4-4 heading into the bye week and keep their playoff hopes alive. Not only did David Garrard show no ill effects from the concussion that kept him out of last week's contest, he played the best game of his career, posting personal bests with five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) and a 158.7 passer rating. Garrard had plenty of help from RB Maurice Jones-Drew (27-135-0 rushing), WR Mike Sims-Walker (8-153-1 receiving) and a Jacksonville defense that showed signs of life, picking off Cowboys QB Jon Kitna four times and holding a dangerous Dallas offense to 17 points.
The PFW Spin
Although the Cowboys clearly didn't want to be there on Sunday, don't blame the Jaguars, who responded to head coach Jack Del Rio's criticism after being dominated in Kansas City last week by at least temporarily saving their season and Del Rio's job. Jacksonville went on the road for the third time in four weeks, smelled the blood of a team on its last legs and went in for the kill.
Not counting the loss to the Titans, when he was knocked out of the game halfway through the second quarter, Garrard has 11 TDs (nine passing, two rushing) and only one interception in his last three full games. The Jaguars are 3-0 in those games, scoring 34 points per game.
Garrard has an average passer rating of 136.7 in four victories this season; 44.9 in the three losses in which he started. He might be the streakiest quarterback in the league, but it's hard not to admire when he's on a roll like he was Sunday. Dallas brought the house on blitzes all afternoon, but Garrard made the right read consistently, showing off his impressive accuracy and perfect touch on the deep ball — one of the areas where Garrard has improved most this season. It's hard to count all the times Garrard overshot an open receiver running open downfield last season.
The Jaguars have been getting contributions all along from M.J.D. and TE Marcedes Lewis, who added two more TD catches Sunday, but finally getting Sims-Walker involved was a very welcome sight for Garrard and the club. With Lewis commanding extra attention, and WR Mike Thomas proving that he can get open consistently, Sims-Walker's production picking up will be imperative to the Jaguars' success in the second half. It's no coincidence that the big wideout exploded on Garrard's career day.
The Jacksonville defense isn't going to win a lot of game this season, but it already has equaled its sack total of last season (14). If it can simply capitalize on opponent's mistakes as the Jaguars did on Sunday and the offense limits its mistakes and continues putting the ball in the hands of its playmakers, there is no reason the Jaguars can't remain competitive for a while with winnable home games against the Texans and Browns after the bye. If there is one thing that is clear at the halfway point of the 2010 season, it's that much stranger things have happened.