|Jaguars once-proud defense torched by Brady & Co. in 31-20 loss|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 12 January 2008 18:16|
It was the first - and last - big play for Jacksonville's defense.
The Jaguars couldn't get to Brady, couldn't stop Laurence Maroney, couldn't cover Wes Welker.
No surprise then, that Jacksonville's defense was the main problem in a 31-20 loss to the Patriots in an AFC divisional playoffs game Saturday night.
Those big, bad Jaguars were just plain bad at Gillette Stadium.
Jacksonville allowed 403 yards as New England scored on nearly every possession.
The Jaguars' defense has been the cornerstone and the strength of the franchise the last few years. But the once-proud unit has been torched at times this season, mostly because of poor safety play and injuries at cornerback.
It didn't help that three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud and hard-hitting linebacker Mike Peterson missed most of the second half of the season with injuries.
Co. Instead, they were prone to making mistakes.
Cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Terry Cousin and safeties Reggie Nelson and Sammy Knight combined to miss several tackles. Most came against Maroney, who finished with 112 yards rushing.
Henderson and fellow defensive linemen Paul Spicer, Bobby McCray and Reggie Hayward hardly touched Brady.
Sure, the Jaguars sacked Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger six times last week, forced a fumble and intercepted three passes. But that kind of performance was rare, not routine, this season.
Rookie Derek Landri got one of the rare hits on Brady, but it came after he released the ball and resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
Nelson missed a tackle on the next play, and Maroney gained 29 yards. Four plays later, Ben Watson shoved cornerback Scott Starks to the ground and caught a 9-yard TD pass from Brady that made it 28-17 late in the third quarter.
Brady finished 26-of-28 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Maroney ran 22 times for 122 yards and a score. Welker caught nine passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Heck, even when the Jaguars looked like they might get a stop, Brady bought a little time and found Donte' Stallworth for a 53-yard gain that set up a late field goal that put the game out of reach.
The defense won't get all the blame, either.
David Garrard had a huge fumble in the first quarter that gave New England a short field and allowed the Patriots to take a 14-7 lead.
And Dennis Northcutt, a free agent the Jaguars gave a five-year, $17 million contract in the offseason, dropped a deep pass near the goal line in the fourth quarter.