Jaguars-Broncos: Rain or Shine, Jags Come Through and Send Denver Packing

Robert MinnsContributor ISeptember 12, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback David Garrard #9 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates following a touchdown pass during the NFL season opener game against the Denver Broncos at EverBank Field on September 12, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

As Tim Tebow trotted on the field, a loud cheer could be heard from the rabid fans that were more interested in him than the home team. It was 4th-and-1, and Tebow rushed for a touchdown in the end zone to seal the Broncos' fourth-quarter win...

Time to wake up, haters—the dream is over.

No Tebow goal line rush, no large sections of fans wearing a No. 15 jersey, and no TDs or any significant role for Timmy. Just 63,000 fans chanting, "We are Jaguars" and a 1-0 start in what may be one of the best and most important home openers in Jacksonville history.

On what started as the hottest game day in Jaguars history and ended as the game with the longest lightning/rain delay in team history, the only thing that changed more than the weather was the momentum of the teams playing. The fans were presented with a gritty battle between two teams, each trying to prove that their arrow is headed up.

On the first drive Kyle Orton appeared to be very efficient and finding holes in the secondary, driving the Broncos to the Jaguars 20. A holding penalty and an Aaron Kampman sack later, Denver found itself punting to Mike Thomas. The ensuing Jaguar drive didn’t get far and led to a punt, as did the next couple drives for both teams.

In the second quarter David Garrard hooked up with Marcedes Lewis for the first of two touchdowns that the duo would get on the day. Also during the second quarter Tyson Alualu recorded his first sack. But Orton showed some grit and poise and drove the Broncos for a tying touchdown with under 50 seconds left in the half.

Already the Jaguars were showing that the stereotypes that had been given to them were wrong. How many rookie pass rushers get a sack in their first games? Not a lot, and it would appear that Gene Smith struck gold with his first round "reach pick."

The game continued back and forth with the Jaguars gaining a lead and then Denver catching up and matching it until the fourth quarter, when Garrard hooked up with Kassim Osgood for the wide receiver's first touchdown catch since 2004.

Orton tried to drive back, but failed on a fourth down attempt with about four minutes left in the half. The Jaguars tried to run down the clock, but through the use of timeouts and the two-minute warning, Denver was able to get the ball back.

Orton once again tried to float the ball over Jaguars defensive back Rashean Mathis, but Mathis made a play on the ball that would have been a pick if Jabar Gaffney hadn’t grabbed and covered Rashean’s facemask.

Despite the blown offensive pass interference call, Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith gave the final blow to the Broncos by making a game-deciding interception on the next play. The Jaguars ran out the remaining 40 seconds and clinched their first win of the season.

As a Jaguar fan I can’t contain the excitement I felt after this first win. It is a great feeling to know that the preseason is over, and now the Jaguars can get to proving all the doubters wrong.

I was greatly impressed with the pass rush. Aaron Kampman had 1.5 sacks in his first game back from an ACL tear? That is just awesome and so very impressive. The fact that Tyson Alualu got his first sack in his first game as a Jaguar is great also.

It is clear that the team's decision to focus on the defensive line this season has paid off, and we will no longer be in the bottom of the league in sacks. In fact, if the Jags keep this up, they should be at the top.

David Garrard looked great, going 16-of-21 for 170 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and a phenomenal 138.9 quarterback rating. Way to prove your doubters wrong, David—now just keep it up.

Maurice Jones-Drew looked excellent as well. He had many strong rushes and didn’t look the least bit unhealthy. MJD finished with 98 yards on 23 carries for 4.3 yards per carry.

Mike Thomas and Marcedes Lewis both deserve high praise for their roles as well this week. Both guys made drive-sustaining plays, and Marcedes caught two touchdown passes, truly living up to his role as the No. 1 tight end. Lewis made the linebackers covering him just look silly trying to keep up.

While the overall feeling of the game was good, there were three points that seem to stick out to me as negatives.

The first was that Mike Sims-Walker only had one catch for zero yards. MSW didn’t even seem to be present in the passing attack, and I remember this bad habit of disappearing for some games from last year. I was hoping for more consistency at this point; he is our theoretical No. 1 wideout.

The second was that Derek Cox was getting burnt like toast. I don’t know what happened to his confidence, but judging from the preseason and this game, it looks like a sophomore slump is in store for the one-time standout rookie. (Come on, we just shipped out Reggie Williams; don’t do this to us again...)

Cox inspired so little confidence in Jack Del Rio that on the last drive of the game he was replaced by newly acquired David Jones. This has to change, or we could be in real trouble in the secondary.

The third thing that really stood out was Justin Durant. He was late, out of position, and generally getting used in the first half. While he did make tackles, he sure managed to let people gain a lot of yards before he did.

The safety play was solid in comparison to last year, but certainly not an area of strength.

We are still at a disadvantage in our safety matchup, but at least they can tackle now (and they don’t play patty-cake with receivers all the way to the end zone like a recently departed former safety did...).

Overall, this game was exciting and has set the Jaguars up to have a promising season. It has been a couple years since we won an opener, and I can’t help but feel that the Jaguars need to do well early if they want to go to the playoffs.

Getting a tough, gritty win against a decent Broncos team was an important first step towards becoming a contender, and I have no doubt that the Jaguars will continue right where they left off next week against the Chargers.

So until next week, here’s to the Jags and taking one step towards to a winning season!