JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -They have won four in a row with a stifling defense and one of the best running games in the league. They have given up just 58 points and have a quarterback who hasn't thrown an interception all season.
So why are the Jacksonville Jaguars so overlooked and unappreciated?
``It's a great position,'' linebacker Mike Peterson said. ``I love that position. Sneak up on everybody and bite them. Like a snake. Everybody hates that snake that sneaks up and bites you.''
The Jaguars (4-1), coming off a 37-17 victory over Houston, know they don't get the same attention as New England, Indianapolis, Dallas, Pittsburgh or even Green Bay, but that's fine with them. They actually prefer the underdog role, a position they'll be in again this week against the defending Super Bowl champion Colts (5-0).
``We go through this every year,'' cornerback Rashean Mathis said. ``We have a good team here in Jacksonville, and when we line up against anyone else, they know they're going to get our best shot - and it's a good shot. What everybody else thinks outside the football world or outside this locker room doesn't really matter to us.''
Still, the Jaguars realize next Monday night's game against four-time defending AFC South champion Indy could change outside perception.
``We know if we win next week, we'll be in first place,'' Peterson said. ``But we want to approach it the same way - not pressing, not tensed up.''
Jacksonville credits its success this season to being more consistent, a problem that plagued the franchise in recent years. The Jags would beat a division leader one week, then lose to a struggling team the next. The trend, along with some rebuilding, helped prevent the club from making the postseason six of the last seven years.
Now, the Jaguars have won four straight for just the second time since 2000.
``It's early in the season and it's all about consistency,'' Mathis said. ``Winning four straight games means that we're being consistent this year, and that's something that we haven't been in the past.''
Jacksonville got off to a rough start, giving up a franchise-record 282 yards rushing in a 13-10 loss to Tennessee in the opener. But the Jaguars rebounded with wins against Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City and Houston. Although none of those teams has a winning record, the Jags haven't let that subdue their rising confidence.
Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew believe they can run against anyone. The defense proudly declares itself one of the best, if not the best, in the league; only the Steelers have allowed fewer points.
Although David Garrard is much more humble, he acknowledges his 104.7 quarterback rating - he has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,069 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions - is the biggest key to the team's turnaround.
But it may take a win over the Colts to turn some heads.
``We've been flying under the radar,'' Garrard said. ``Now we want a little bit of that national spotlight.''
The small-market team hasn't even gotten the local spotlight, with two of three home games having been blacked out in and around Jacksonville because of slumping ticket sales.
The players don't seem to mind. Then again, they relish the us-against-the-world mentality.
``We'd rather be that underdog,'' Peterson said. ``We talk about it all the time in the locker room, being the bad guy. I'm a guy that always pulls for the bad guy in the movies. I want the bad guy to get away.''
Or in this case, get the upset and some notice.
``It's all about winning games,'' Taylor said. ``The more we win, naturally, the more people will talk about us. In the meantime, we're going to continue to do what we do here, do our assignments and get wins regardless.''
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