Published December 11, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In an otherwise miserable season, the Jacksonville Jaguars enjoyed a near-perfect performance.
Maurice Jones-Drew had four touchdowns, setting the franchise scoring record, and the Jaguars reeled off 41 unanswered points to beat the turnover-prone Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41-14 on Sunday.
Jacksonville scored on offense, defense and special teams — all in a 28-point second quarter — and gave interim coach Mel Tucker the game ball following his first victory.
"I can't remember a quarter like that," said Tucker, who took over for fired coach Jack Del Rio nearly two weeks ago. "When you're playing like that, that's fun. That was good for us to have that feeling, to experience that. That's what it takes to win consistently at a high level in this league. We got a taste of that today."
Jones-Drew finished with 136 total yards, including 85 on the ground against one of the league's worst run defenses.
Tampa Bay's bigger problem in its seventh consecutive loss was turnovers.
The Buccaneers (4-9) had seven of them, helping set up each of Jacksonville's four touchdowns in the second quarter. The Jaguars (4-9), who hadn't scored more than 20 points all season, scored four times in a span of 7:32. They scored in all three phases in the same game for the first time since Nov. 1, 1998, at Baltimore.
That also was the last time Jacksonville had scored 28 points in a quarter.
"This is what we expected to have all year," defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. "It didn't work like that, but hopefully it will be good momentum for us."
Josh Freeman and Preston Parker had a lot to do with Jacksonville's latest scoring frenzy.
Freeman, back after missing last week's game against Carolina because of an injured throwing shoulder, threw two interceptions and fumbled near the goal line. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 181 yards and was benched late in favor of Josh Johnson.
"Yeah, once again, turnovers," Freeman said. "It seems every time we started to get something going, we'd shoot ourselves in the foot. It makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to win a football game when you turn the ball over like we did."
Parker's day was nearly as bad. He fumbled two punts, both caused by special teams ace Montell Owens, and had a costly penalty. Colin Cloherty, signed off the practice squad Friday, scooped Parker's second fumble and returned it 4 yards to give the Jaguars a spark.
Blaine Gabbert found Marcedes Lewis behind the defense for a 62-yard gain on the next drive, setting up Jones-Drew's 1-yard score that tied the game at 14.
Two plays later — after Parker was flagged for holding — Freeman fumbled at the 1-yard line as Daryl Smith sacked him. Nate Collins recovered in the end zone to make it 21-14.
Freeman threw an interception on Tampa Bay's next possession.
"This is Football 101 stuff," Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said. "It's frustrating. It's happening every week. Turnovers, you've got to hold on to the football. It's hard to win a game with seven turnovers. Everybody's frustrated. We've got to get better."
Jacksonville turned the short field into a 28-14 lead when Gabbert found Jones-Drew with a short pass near the goal line. Drew stretched the ball over the pylon for his 71st touchdown in 90 career games, breaking the team record held by Fred Taylor.
"It means a lot," Jones-Drew said. "To break a record that Fred set, it means a bunch. Words can't explain how excited I am to have a guy that mentored me the whole time, taught me how to play this game the right way, how to take care of my body and do those things."
Jones-Drew wasn't done, either.
The player Bucs coach Raheem Morris dubbed a "rolling ball of butcher knives" earlier in the week made it 35-14 in the fourth when he caught a short pass near the goal line and plowed through two defenders for another score. He also scored from a yard out late.
Gabbert completed 19 of 33 passes for 217 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The only downside for Jacksonville, which ended a three-game slide, was injuries. The Jaguars lost receivers Mike Thomas (concussion) and Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and place-kicker Josh Scobee (leg) during the game.
Scobee's injury forced the team to go for a fourth-and-9 play late in the game and also attempt a 2-point conversion after Jones-Drew's fourth touchdown.
It also provided some levity in a blowout. Linebacker Russell Allen had to kick off, a dribbler that looked like an onside kick. And when the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Jaguars had even more fun by dosing Tucker with ice water.
Things got serious in the locker room when Tucker delivered an emotional speech and got the game ball.
"I think I did shed one (tear)," Tucker said. "I tried to get it back, but it was too late. I was exposed."
Notes: Parker declined to speak to reporters after the game. ... Bucs WR Arrelious Benn suffered a concussion. ... Tampa Bay led 14-0 after TD runs by LeGarrette Blount and Freeman. ... The Jaguars hadn't scored 40 or more points since Dec. 23, 2007 against Oakland. ... Jacksonville forced seven turnovers — the most in franchise history. The previous high was five.