Jaguars Top 20 'Rivalry Moments'
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – To recognize the Steelers visit this Sunday, our Top 20 list this week is "Top 20 Rivalry Moments."
In their 20-year history, the Jaguars have been in two divisions, the AFC Central and currently the AFC South. When the franchise started, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston (Oilers) and Cleveland (Baltimore) were the division opponents and an instant rivalry was born with each of those teams. While a "moment" against Cincinnati when the Jaguars were in their division never really happened, the other four teams have a place in early Jaguars history. Since moving to the AFC South, Indianapolis has been the dominant team but Tennessee and Houston (Texans) have also provided some spirited moments for Jaguars fans.
At the top of the list, regrettably, is a rivalry moment that ended up in a loss and heartbreak for the Jaguars. Leading at halftime in the AFC Championship Game in 2000, the Jaguars couldn't hold the lead and lost to the hated Titans and Jeff Fisher. It hurt then and now 14 years later, still hurts. Fisher calling Jacksonville "our other home stadium" is also on the list, and the other two losses to the Titans during the season, the only losses of the year, are also in our top 20. But with the animosity, real or perceived between Jacksonville and Nashville and between Fisher and then head coach Tom Coughlin, losing to the Titans that year is a lingering memory that probably won't ever been absolved until the Jaguars get to the Super Bowl.
Even though the Steelers were out of the division in 2007, David Garrard's run for a first down in the playoff game at Pittsburgh comes in at number two. The old wounds were opened up between the Jaguars and Steelers, mainly for fans because Head Coach Jack Del Rio had no history with Pittsburgh, but it was sweet beating the Steelers twice in three weeks and putting them out of the playoffs.
That Josh Scobee kick at home against the Colts keeps popping up on our lists and rightly so. Scobee holding his helmet up and running around the field is an image Jaguars fans can hold onto. Several Scobee kicks to beat Indy made our top 20. And anytime they beat the Colts its especially satisfying.
There's always been a simmering feud with Cleveland. Gerard Warren's cheap shot on Mark Brunell might have been one reason but either way, there's not much respect given when these two teams meet. That's why the explosion of beer bottles (full, but not of beer), hot dog wrappers, seat cushions and just about everything else onto the field in Cleveland makes our list at number four. The Jaguars won the game but a controversial call by the officials set the Browns' fans off. It started from the "Dog Pound" in the end zone and then traveled all around the stadium. The field wasn't a safe place to be (at the time I was doing sideline reporting for Jaguars radio and dodged a few flying missiles) so the game was called with some time on the clock and the teams went to the locker room. During the post-game press conference, the commissioner's office called and said they had to finish the game. Players scrambled to put on uniforms, and most went to the field wearing somebody else's stuff. They were escorted out a different tunnel, ran onto the field, ran one play and headed back, perhaps averting a riot. I could only think of Sam Wyche getting on the microphone in Cincinnati and saying "You're not in Cleveland!"
There were several games where Fred Taylor took control against the Jaguars rivals. He eclipsed 10,000 yards in his career against Tennessee, running over defenders in the process.. His 234 yards against the Pittsburgh defense in Pittsburgh help establish him as a big time threat and the Jaguars as a physical presence in the division.
Beating Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football was always especially sweet. The Jaguars first win against the Steelers on MNF finished with Chris Hudson running down the sideline after a blocked kick. Head Coach Bill Cowher had a notion to step on the field as Hudson went by and for a split second you thought he might do it. That comes in at number eight.
There were a number of heartbreaking rivalry moments in the Del Rio era. The harbinger of what was to come was in Jack's first game, losing to the Panthers in Charlotte, the Jaguars sister expansion team. Stephen Davis ran all over the Jaguars defense that day and the Panthers scored on their last possession to secure the victory. The Jaguars run game was nearly non-existent. Committed to stopping the run and running the football as a head coach, I asked Del Rio after the game, "How can you turn that around in one week." He looked at me and said, "Let's start with something else." Also a harbinger of things to come.
Looking for a playoff berth with a win against the lowly Texans at the end of the season in 2004, the Jaguars laid an egg and lost 21-0 to be eliminated from contention. There was a lot of grumbling after that loss and rightly so. Houston was a bad team and the Jaguars weren't ready to play, another Del Rio fixture during his tenure. Disappointing to lose, especially to a division rival that was a heavy underdog.
Wins against the Steelers were easy to put in the top 20. A victory over Pittsburgh was the first home vctory for the Jaguars in 1995 and a win in Pittsburgh in 1998 clinched the Central Division.
While the Jaguars have gone through a number of uniform changes (I still think the originals were the best. Classic) the Texans have pretty much stayed the same in their history. So it's kind of funny when they break out their "Battle Red" to play the Jaguars. Even though they weren't wearing it that day in Jacksonville, their Battle Red wouldn't have helped against Mike Thomas' Hail Mary catch. That's a great moment regardless of the opponent, only made better because it was Houston.
We didn't know it was the beginning of a rivalry but the first win in franchise history was in Houston against the Oilers. It's probably one of the things that started the grudge that the two cities and three franchises still hold.
There's one individual performance in a losing effort that also sticks out on this list. Jimmy Smith absolutely dominated the Ravens on a fall Sunday in Baltimore in 2000. Problem was, the Ravens shredded the Jaguars secondary with Shannon Sharpe to claim the win. But Smith's 15 catches and 291 yards was pretty special.
Because Carolina came into the league at the same time, the two teams will always be linked. And that ticks Charlotte off to no end. They're so snotty they refuse to call their downtown area "Downtown" instead referring to it as "Uptown." Being linked to Jacksonville is something Panthers fans try to avoid. Columnists in their paper make a point of running Jacksonville down whenever they can. Like they're Paris. So while it was the first contest in Jaguars history, and not even really a preseason game, losing to the Panthers in the Hall of Fame game wasn't any good.
Here's a look at our list. Did we miss something? Let us know what you think on Twitter with #jagstop20 or @Sports4jax. We'll reveal your thoughts Friday on "Jaguars Friday Night."
1. Tennessee beats Jaguars in AFC Title Game
2. Garrard runs at Pittsburgh in playoffs
3. Scobee kick beats Colts at home
4. Beer bottles in Cleveland
5. Fred Taylor gets his 10,000th yard at Tennessee
6. Fisher calls Jacksonville "Other home stadium"
7. Fred Taylor runs wild vs. Pittsburgh
8. Cowher almost punches Chris Hudson
9. Lose to Carolina to open the Del Rio era
10. Jaguars shut out by Texans 21-0, miss playoffs (2004)
11. Beat Pittsburgh Oct 8 1995, 1st home win
12. Beat Steelers last game of 1998 to win division
13. Mike Thomas Hail Mary against Texans at home
14. Win first game at Oilers, 1995
15. Jimmy Smith 15 catches 291 yards 3 TD's at Ravens in 2000
16. Lose to Tennessee twice in 1999 regular season
17.Lose to Carolina in Hall of Fame game
18. 2004 at Colts... Scobee 53 yard game winner 27-24
19. 2008 at Colts... Scobee 51 yard game winner 23-21
20. Shutout Steelers 9-0 in 2006 on Monday Night Football... Lowest
scoring game on MNF
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