The Jacksonville Jaguars' 42-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8 wiped the smile off head coach Jack Del Rio's face (pictured) pretty quickly.
Jacksonville seemed ready to play in the early going, keeping Kansas City's NFL-best ground game in check outside of one long run by Thomas Jones. After driving downfield for a field goal before halftime, the Jaguars went into their locker room down 14-13 at the break.
But between a long touchdown pass thrown in the middle of blown coverage and Del Rio's wasted timeouts, the wheels fell off quickly.
Early in the game, the CBS commentary team of Bill Macatee and Rich Gannon put a "rags-to-riches" spin on Todd Bouman's route to the Jaguars' starting job as often as possible.
Despite having spent most of the year a phone call away from Jacksonville's roster, Bouman was cast as a farm hand who'd been yanked out of anonymity by the desperate Jaguars after injuries to David Garrard and Trent Edwards.
But the feel-good story left their play-by-play as Jacksonville fell behind. Bouman's family, featured prominently after his two scores, didn't get much face time after his two picks.
In front of Bouman, two heavily-criticized offensive linemen had a pretty good day in spite of the final score.
As pass protectors, veterans Brad Meester and Vince Manuwai held up fairly well in the middle of Jacksonville's line against Kansas City's heavies. They managed only 76 yards on designed runs, though, which didn't help the Jaguars' cause.
But Meester and Manuwai absolutely spanked the Chiefs' defenders on screens. Each threw several tooth-rattling blocks that will earn them big points in the film room this week.
Kansas City defensive end Tamba Hali figured out the key to success against the Jaguars' pass protection pretty quickly Sunday:
Line up wide. Just pick a side.
Hali only recorded one sack against Jacksonville, running his 2010 total to 5.5 through six games, but he was in Todd Bouman's head the whole game.
Eben Britton's feet were much too slow to keep pace with Hali, and Eugene Monroe seemed reluctant to punch out at him. Hali consistently fought through their blocks to get at Bouman quickly.
There's disagreement among analysts and observers as to whether defensive ends mature in their second or third season, but the reason why is more cut-and-dried: experience.
Despite getting drafted eighth overall back in 2008, Jacksonville's Derrick Harvey doesn't play like he has much of it.
The Chiefs consistently fooled Harvey with inside fakes out of two-back sets Sunday. He'd see the hand-off motion and cut in to give halfhearted chase, only to watch Dexter McCluster or Jamaal Charles sprint outside him and down his sideline.
Through six games, one of Tyson Alualu's few rookie mistakes has been his awkward spin move. It just hasn't worked.
On Kansas City's first drive Sunday, Alualu was lined up wide against left tackle Branden Albert. When the ball was snapped, he punched out with that familiar left hand to Albert's inside and began to turn...
And he swung his right foot around, quick as a hare, and through. He ended up face-to-face with Jamaal Charles, who had to dart outside (where Justin Durant should have been) to find daylight. Still, Alualu's footwork was great.
Justin Durant wasn't the only Jacksonville linebacker struggling against the Chiefs' ground game, though.
Early in the game, Tyson Alualu, Terrance Knighton, and the Jaguars' defensive line weren't yet getting pushed around by Kansas City's blockers. Knighton, in particular, held his ground impressively against double-team attention in the first half.
But Kirk Morrison and Daryl Smith played too hurriedly behind them, trying to anticipate the run rather than waiting for a lane to fill.
The end result? Kansas City bullied Jacksonville for 236 yards on 42 runs.
Once Terrance Knighton and his teammates on the defensive line wore down, the Jaguars' only consistent run defender was Courtney Greene.
Playing up from the safety position as Jacksonville's eighth man in the box, Greene stuck his nose in the lanes that opened up while the linebackers were trapped among the blockers.
Greene was credited with six tackles on the day, second only to Justin Durant's seven, as he showed how to play against the grain.
If the Jaguars had a safety who could play up top as well as Courtney Greene played downhill, they would have stayed in the thick of Sunday's loss a bit longer.
Don Carey, thrust into the starting free safety role after Jacksonville parted ways with Anthony Smith and Gerald Alexander, wasn't exactly the Jaguars' first choice.
Still, there he was, sprinting to catch up with Dwayne Bowe when Kansas City's top receiver somehow sneaked behind the coverage. Derek Cox's shaky confidence took another blow Sunday, too, as he was punished for giving Bowe a big cushion on several plays.
Taking pride in special teams play is a bit of a cop-out, considering the relative importance of offense and defense.
But after a 42-20 loss, it's a necessary cop-out for Jacksonville.
Two "pin 'em deep" kicks dropped Adam Podlesh's average to 38.3 yards on his three punts Sunday, but all three were good efforts.
Aside from the two nose-down finesse kicks, both of which landed inside the 20-yard line, Podlesh put his foot through a nice floating 55-yarder in the second half that carried from his own 20 to the Chiefs' 20.
Last year, Jack Del Rio had a bad habit of listening to his players' sideline gripes after close calls. Mike Sims-Walker was a repeat offender, asking for his coach's flag on several no-catch rulings and fumbles.
But in Sunday's loss, Del Rio wasn't listening to anyone but the voices in his head.
Apparently, those voices are not overly concerned about the Jaguars' clock management strategy.
Del Rio threw away two timeouts, and neither call was close to getting overturned. His first-half challenge cost Jacksonville a shot at a touchdown before halftime.