By Simon Evans
JACKSONVILLE (Reuters) - With an under-fire coach and quarterback, the Jacksonville Jaguars 'circled the wagons' and fought their way out of trouble on Sunday with a surprise victory over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
"I was real proud of the effort, it could have been a lot cleaner but it was gritty, it was determined and I am proud of the men in that locker room, Scobee in particular," he said.
It was a much-needed boost for the Florida team, who after winning their opener against Denver, suffered a 38-13 loss at San Diego and then slumped to a miserable 28-3 home defeat to Philadelphia last week.
Television and radio pundits put Del Rio high on their list of coaches who could be fired soon while the future of quarterback David Garrard was put in more immediate doubt after the franchise brought in an alternative in former Buffalo Trent Edwards.
Doubts will linger over the pair and the team as a whole but victory over the Colts, beaten in the Super Bowl last season and boasting the league's most immaculate quarterback, was the perfect response to critics.
"What was important, what gave us a chance, was the way we handled some of the adversity that we were facing. We clung together, we circled the wagons, so to speak," Del Rio told reporters.
"The guys looked within, challenged each other and rallied around each other. This is such a dedicated, committed group that is a lot of fun to coach. This was a big win," he said.
The key was a conservative offensive strategy based on the running game -- with Garrard contributing 44 rushing yards including a 25-yard touchdown run.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who rushed for 105 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries, put the turn-around down to a more relaxed approach.
"We had fun. That is what it came down to. We messed up sometimes, guys were missing blocks but we kind of let it go by and just kept playing," he said.
(Editing by Ian Ransom)