With just over a month of regular-season NFL games left, Florida’s teams have yet to emerge from Sunday with a victory from all three teams. Sunday was five points away from achieving that goal.
The Jacksonville Jaguars won their second game of the season, and with the 13-6 win over the Houston Texans climbed to third place in the AFC South.
“Each week we become stronger and stronger,” Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said. “I told them [the team] the road to success is under construction, and we have to have that mindset.”
While the Jaguars could make the playoffs with a 7-9 record, it would take a nearly impossible string of collapses by nine of the 16 AFC teams. Despite beating Houston head-to-head, Jacksonville would still have the first pick in next year’s draft if the season ended today.
“At the end of the day, starting off 0-8 can be miserable depending on how your coaches handle it,” Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said.
“But Gus is a stickler on this being positive and kept playing music and having a good time. If you guys heard our locker room before the game, you probably thought it was a club because they were playing music before we went out.”
Meanwhile in Detroit, the team that was battling Jacksonville for the top pick only a week ago pushed itself farther away from the honor.
Tampa Bay had been in a back-and-forth battle with the Lions all game, but it looked like the Bucs would lose their late lead as Calvin Johnson caught a pass five yards from the endzone with 54 seconds left. Safety Kelcie McCray would jar the ball out of Johnson’s hands and into those of teammate Johnathan Banks, sealing Tampa’s third straight win.
“These guys have done what we’ve asked,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said after the game. “When your leaders do that, everybody else follows.”
The win keeps the Bucs’ postseason hopes alive. While exponentially more likely than the Jaguars making the playoffs, Tampa still needs six teams (Arizona, Chicago, Carolina, Dallas, San Francisco and St. Louis) to finish 8-8 or worse.
This is assuming the Buccaneers can win out, which would be much harder if Darrelle Revis’ groin injury, suffered in the first half against the Lions, causes him to miss significant time.
In Miami, the Dolphins gave up 17 straight points to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, turning a 16-3 lead into a 20-16 loss.
“You have to capitalize when you have opportunities,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “You have to make plays when they present themselves, and we didn’t make enough of them. Absolutely not enough of them.”
Starting from their own 20, the Panthers rattled off a 12-play drive that resulted in the game-winning touchdown. It included a 19-yard fourth down conversion and two first downs on third-and-short.
Miami would get the ball back with 43 seconds left, but stalled after a 26-yard completion got the ball to the Dolphins’ 40. On third down, quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked for a 10-yard loss, the final play of the game.
“As an offense, we have to score more points,” Tannehill said, “Especially in the second half, we’ve got to get on the board and get touchdowns.”
The loss drops the Dolphins to 5-6. Tennessee, also at 5-6, currently holds the final wild card slot.
To hear what coaches and players are saying about the games, click the links below:
Gus Bradley - Jaguars Head Coach: “Each week we become stronger and stronger.”
Maurice Jones-Drew - Jaguars Running Back: “If you guys heard our locker room before the game, you probably thought it was a club . . .”
Greg Schiano - Buccaneers Head Coach: “These guys have done what we’ve asked.”
Joe Philbin - Dolphins Head Coach: “You have to make plays when they present themselves, and . . . not enough of them.”
Ryan Tannehill - Dolphins Quarterback: “As an offense, we have to score more points.”