Broncos 6

(1-1, 0-1 away)

Jaguars 7

(2-0, 1-0 home)

1:00 PM ET, September 19, 2004


1 2 3 4 T
DEN 0 6 0 06
JAX 0 7 0 07

Griffin muffs handoff in final minute

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are accustomed to playing close games. Now they're finding ways to win them, too.

The Jags lost three games in the final minute last season and finished 5-11. They've won twice this season in the waning seconds.

Allen's Analysis

Eric Allen

Broncos-Jaguars: How have the Jags gotten off to a 2-0 start despite just 401 total yards?

Right now, this is the most surprising team in the NFL. The Jaguars have a young quarterback in Byron Leftwich, an oft-injured running back in Fred Taylor and are still 2-0. This team is following a blueprint similar to the Carolina Panthers from a year ago. The Jaguars allow their defense to set the pace of the game and don't put their quarterback in bad situations. Leftwich only threw the ball 16 times and didn't give it away. That's what the Jaguars need to win games: someone to manage the ball and put some points on the board.

On the other hand, the Jaguars defense was absolutely stifling as it held Broncos RB Quentin Griffith to 66 yards on 25 carries. It stuffed Griffith and kept QB Jake Plummer from making big plays by keeping him from setting his feet. These are the types of games the Panthers won last year, and it's interesting to see the Jaguars winning them this season.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders. He's a regular contributor to Insider.

Denver running back Quentin Griffin fumbled a handoff on the 23-yard line with about 30 seconds to play, allowing the Jaguars to escape with a 7-6 victory over the Broncos on Sunday.

Last week at Buffalo, Byron Leftwich connected with rookie Ernest Wilford for a 7-yard touchdown pass as time expired to give the Jaguars a 13-10 win.

"We're keeping the cardiologists busy in town," coach Jack Del Rio said.

Jacksonville (2-0) has played outstanding defense both weeks. But the unit almost gave this one away down the stretch.

The Jaguars had Denver (1-1) pinned inside the 20-yard line with a little more than two minutes to play when defensive end Lionel Barnes was flagged 15 yards for roughing the passer. The penalty came after an incomplete pass on third-and-4.

It gave the Broncos 15 yards and an automatic first down.

Jake Plummer then drove his team into field-goal range with three completions and a 9-yard run. He spiked the ball to stop the clock. Griffin then gained a yard, setting up third-and-9 at the 23 with 37 seconds remaining.

It would have been an 40-yard field goal for Jason Elam -- with the wind at his back.

But coach Mike Shanahan opted not to kick on third down, wanting to run more time off the clock and trying to get a shorter kick.

It backfired.

"We had plenty of time to hand the ball off and get a few more yards," Shanahan said.

Griffin never really got the ball from Plummer. Akin Ayodele recovered the fumble, and the Jaguars ran out the clock from there.

"I couldn't believe it," receiver Jimmy Smith said. "I laid back on the bench and thought it was over. The last two weeks I've done as much praying as anything. I don't know how it happens."

Playing good defense certainly helps.

The Jaguars held Griffin to 66 yards, extending their streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher to an NFL-best 17 games. The shifty, undersized back had 156 yards last week against Kansas City, drawing comparisons to Barry Sanders.

Griffin also fumbled in last week's game, but it was widely overlooked because the Broncos won.

This one will get much more attention. Griffin left the locker room without speaking to reporters. Shanahan, though, defended his running back.

"I don't think he ever had it," Shanahan said. "It is different if a guy has it in his stomach and somebody strips it. He never got it from the quarterback. I'm not sure if Jake stumbled or what happened."

Plummer said both players were at fault.

"We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot," he said, acknowledging the fumble and the 33 percent success rate on third down.

The Jags were even less efficient, converting just one third down. But it was a big one -- Leftwich's 12-yard TD pass to Wilford.

Jermaine Lewis' 50-yard punt return set up the score. Lewis had only punter Micah Knorr between him and the end zone, but Knorr dived at Lewis feet and put up an arm. Lewis hurdled Knorr but fell after he landed.

The Jaguars had better luck a few plays later when center Brad Meester recovered Greg Jones' fumble inside the 10-yard line. Leftwich found Wilford across the middle two plays later.

It was Wilford's second career reception -- both for touchdowns.

Elam kicked the first of his two field goals on the ensuing possession. His 44-yarder hit the left upright and ricocheted through.

He added a 22-yarder as time expired in the first half to make it 7-6. Elam had a chance to give Denver the lead late in the third, but his 51-yard attempt into the wind fell short.

He wanted another chance but never got it.

"We should have put that game away earlier, and it should have never come down to that," said Denver's Rod Smith, who caught three passes for 69 yards. "We should have taken care of business a long time before that. I don't want (Griffin) beating himself up thinking he lost the game, because he didn't."

Game notes

Jacksonville defensive end Paul Spicer broke his right leg near the end of the third quarter and had to be carted off the field. He is likely out for the season. ... Jimmy Smith caught three passes for 69 yards, including two over Champ Bailey, and has caught at least one pass in 45 consecutive games. ... Bailey lined up at receiver several times but didn't have a catch. He dropped a ball on the final possession.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

denFG10:15Jason Elam 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 46 yds, 2:19
Drive info: 5 plays, 32 yds, 11:55
Drive info: 5 plays, 32 yds, 11:55
denFG0:20Jason Elam 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 76 yds, 3:31