AFC South: Graham Gano

AFC South Week 16 decisive moment

December, 28, 2010
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Solid special-teams play has been a key to some good things for Jacksonville this season. But a poor play to start overtime Sunday against Washington helped set up a doomsday scenario for the Jags.

Graham Gano's 66-yard kickoff bounced, returner Deji Karim didn’t handle it cleanly and the Redskins swarmed him. The Jaguars opened overtime starting at their own 11-yard line.

Karim’s misplay didn’t directly result in David Garrard's terrible interception three plays later, but it killed the momentum the home team built with a fourth-quarter drive that produced a touchdown to tie it. Redskins cornerback Kevin Barnes ' interception set up Gano's 31-yard field goal that gave the Redskins a 20-17 victory.

“They popped [a kickoff] up earlier in the game,” Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said at his Monday news conference. “That was not a pop up. I think he just hit it and maybe didn’t hit as well as he could have or would have liked to, but we’ve got to up come up and field that ball.

“[Karim] has got to be in position to field that ball. We can’t let that ball hit the ground. ... We’ve got to execute better in that situation. It wasn’t the first kick of the game. You’re talking about several kicks into the game. We each had plenty of opportunities. We understood the dynamics of the wind, the fact that it was doing its thing. We’ve got to execute better in that situation, no question, whether it’s Deji, an up-back, that ball can’t hit the ground. You cannot let the ball come off a kicker’s foot and hit the ground in that situation. We didn’t handle that properly, and as a result we started on the 11.”

Reading the coverage: Day after edition

December, 27, 2010
Houston Texans

Of all the rotten performances, this one was the most wretched, says John McClain.

Bob McNair should do the decent thing and fire Gary Kubiak now, says Richard Justice. He’s saying the owner should put the coach out of his misery, but it’s certainly more embarrassing to not be allowed to finish the year. And this presumes, of course, that Kubiak is losing his job. Justice wants the Texans to have a head start chasing Bill Cowher, but unless they know they’re getting him, there is no reason to think a week makes a huge difference.

A tipped pass that turned into an interception ended the Texans’ chances, says McClain.

Kubiak is still popular with Broncos’ fans, says Dale Robertson.

After six games, only three teams had fewer losses than the Texans, who were 4-2. Now only four teams have fewer wins, says Jerome Solomon.

The Texans simply don't have anyone in place in a position of power that knows how to build a defense, says Lance Zierlein.

Indianapolis Colts

Run defense, once a weakness, is now a strength, says Phil Richards.

It meant nothing and, yet, they played as if it meant everything -- and here's why: They didn't know Jacksonville lost roughly five minutes into their own game. Didn't know, didn't try to know, didn't care. Bob Kravitz was impressed with that and so was I. The personality transplant in the run game and run defense is reminiscent of the 2006 Super Bowl champs.

Manning kept the plan for his bootleg run a secret like he’s done whenever he’s done it, says Mike Chappell.

The exhausted Colts have a blueprint for the playoffs, says Mike Silver.

It’s not a surprise the Colts are here, but the route the past two weeks was unforeseeable, says John Oehser.

There's nothing easy about beating a division rival at home with a playoff berth on the line, says Nate Dunlevy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars nosedive again, says Vito Stellino.

The alibi chamber is empty and the loss to Washington casts doubt on Jack Del Rio and David Garrard, says Gene Frenette. If David Garrard can’t handle the load he was given against a terrible defense it raises serious questions. It tells you about all you need to know about the Jaguars’ status in a quarterback-driven league.

Garrard’s mistakes were killer, says Tania Ganguli.

Washington kicker Graham Gano benefitted from wind advice from Josh Scobee, says Ganguli.

A rebuilding team might lack the ability to kick into a higher gear, says Vic Ketchman of the team’s web site.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans can forget the playoffs, says Jim Wyatt.

William Hayes suffered a concussion when a throwaway by Kerry Collins hit him in the head, says Jim Wyatt. Not to make light of the injury, but it’s an occurrence that symbolizes a horrific season. Shouldn’t Haye, or someone in range of Haye, have eyes on the throw and reach for it?

Kansas City’s fast start wore out the Titans, says Wyatt.

How did the Titans win five of their first seven games, wonders David Climer.

Years from now the Titans will be an answer to a trivia question, says Don Banks.

No one is safe according to Michael Griffin, says Terry McCormick.

Wrap-up: Redskins 19, Titans 16 OT

November, 21, 2010
Thoughts on the Titans’ 19-16 loss against the Redskins at LP Field.

What it means: The Titans fell to 5-5, a game behind Jacksonville and a game or two behind Indianapolis depending on the Colts-Patriots result.

What I didn’t like: Three penalties on the Redskins' last possession, by Jason Babin, Will Witherspoon and Alterraun Verner, helped set up Graham Gano’s game-winning 48-yard field goal.

What I didn’t like, Part II: Santana Moss had way too much room way too often in the Tennessee secondary. The tackling was poor, particularly against the running backs who found room around the edges and on a play like Fred Davis’ 23-yard catch and run. And against a terrible third-down team, Tennessee allowed the Redskins to convert 50 percent. The Titans couldn’t find an offensive touchdown all day.

What I liked: Marc Mariani showed great feel on his 87-yard punt return for a touchdown, which did a lot to make up for a lack of offense. Rob Bironas was automatic on three field-goal attempts.

Injury concerns: Vince Young lost a fumble early on and too often held the ball when defenders were closing in on him in a way that begs to be stripped. He banged the thumb on his throwing hand and yielded to rookie Rusty Smith. Jason Jones left the game early with a knee injury and didn’t return.

Up and down: Smith settled in and hit Nate Washington with a big 52-yard pass that positioned the Titns for a go-ahead field goal with just under 9 minutes left in regulation. But he threw a bad interception to Phillip Buchanan while aiming for Washington not long after, and finished just 3 of 9 for 62 yards.

What’s next: The Titans head for Houston to play just their second AFC South game of the season. The loser will fall under .500 and set up a super difficult route to a playoff berth.