|With boost from Landri and Jones-Drew, Jaguars advance in AFC playoffs|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 06 January 2008 13:16|
He didn't want to, either.
``I didn't want the day to end,'' Landri said.
Landri eventually crashed for a few hours, but was on the golf course later in the day, hitting balls with teammate Maurice Jones-Drew as they relived their first playoff experience.
It was quite memorable, too.
The two backups played key roles in Jacksonville's thrilling, 31-29 victory at Pittsburgh in an AFC wild-card game Saturday night.
Landri, filling in for two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle John Henderson, had his first interception, first sack and first fumble recovery.
Jones-Drew had a 96-yard kickoff return to set up a touchdown, a 43-yard TD reception and a 10-yard scoring run.
They weren't the only stars.
David Garrard rebounded from his two interceptions with a 32-yard run on a fourth-and-2 play to set up Josh Scobee's 25-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining. Rashean Mathis had two interceptions, including one returned 63 yards for a score. And Bobby McCray sacked Ben Roethlisberger on Pittsburgh's final play to seal the franchise's first postseason win since January 2000.
It marked coach Jack Del Rio's first playoff victory and the team's first postseason road win since January 1997.
The Jaguars will play at unbeaten New England on Saturday night or at defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis next Sunday.
``Regardless of who we draw, we know it's going to be a very stiff challenge,'' Del Rio said Sunday. ``Those are two of the elite teams in the National Football League, so it's going to be a huge challenge.''
The Jaguars responded to a challenge against the Steelers, who scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to erase an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh went ahead 29-28 with 6:21 remaining. Thanks to two failed 2-point conversion and Pittsburgh's strange decision to run Roethlisberger on a third-and-6 play with about 3 minutes to play, the Jaguars got a shot to win.
Garrard, who played his worst game of the season, overshadowed his mistakes with his longest run in more than five years.
``The bottom line is we made the plays we needed to make at the times they needed to be made to win the game,'' Del Rio said. ``Offensively, there was tough sledding there, but we did enough to win. We made some big plays.''
Some of the biggest came from Landri and Jones-Drew.
Landri, a fifth-round draft pick from Notre Dame, stepped in for Henderson after he left in the first quarter with a strained hamstring.
Landri recorded his first career sack a few minutes later. His first career interception was even more important.
The Steelers were trailing 21-7 and driving near the end of the first half. On second-and-4 at the Jacksonville 21, Landri read a screen, dropped off the line of scrimmage and stepped in front of Roethlisberger's short pass.
``Not too many times do defensive linemen get picks, so that's awesome,'' Landri said. ``That was a real big play for the team. That one was pretty huge.''
His fumble recovery was equally huge.
After Jacksonville went ahead 31-29, the Steelers had one final shot with 37 seconds left. But McCray sacked Roethlisberger and caused a fumble that Landri recovered.
``To get on that ball and end the game like that, that was pretty sweet,'' Landri said.
Jones-Drew made his plays early. After Pittsburgh opened the game with a touchdown, Jones-Drew took the ensuing kickoff, eluded two tacklers and weaved his way to the 1-yard line. Fred Taylor evened the score on the next play.
In the second quarter, Jones-Drew beat linebacker James Farrior on a wheel route, caught a pass in stride and then juked Tyrone Carter near the goal line. His first TD reception this season made it 21-7.
He went untouched around the left end for a score in the third, making it 28-10.
Jones-Drew had been somewhat of a forgotten man in Jacksonville, with Taylor putting together five consecutive 100-yard games to end the season.
``He didn't go away in our mind at all,'' Del Rio said. ``He's a special young man. He's got the heart of a champion. He loves to compete. ... He's explosive with the ball in his hands; he's a threat without it. He's just a super football player and he's been unselfish. I can't say enough about him.''