After a potentially devastating setback last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to need a lot of help to get the last playoff spot in the AFC.
They’ll try to sneak back into the playoffs for the first time since 1999 when they visit the Oakland Raiders.
Aside from the obvious—a victory over the Raiders—the Jaguars also need home defeats by Buffalo to Pittsburgh and Denver to Indianapolis to clinch a spot in the postseason. With the top-seeded Steelers and No. 3 seed Colts having already locked up their playoff positions, Jacksonville can’t expect much in the way of help.
Last week, however, the Jaguars had a chance to control their own playoff destiny, but shot themselves in the foot by getting shut out at home for the first time 21-0 by the Houston Texans.
“Our football team, our players, we need to do better. We had a great opportunity to beat a divisional opponent at home and take control of the playoff picture and we were not able to get it done,” said head coach Jack Del Rio.
“I think our primary goal is to make the playoffs. For us, we want to qualify to get in because regardless of what the statistics show, anything is possible once you get in there.”
Leftwich suffered a mild concussion in the loss to the Texans. The second-year quarterback had the lowest output of his pro career, completing 6 of 14 passes for 35 yards before backup David Garrard was sent in with just over four minutes left. Taylor sat out the game with a knee injury after helping Jacksonville to a big win in Green Bay the previous week.
Leftwich was back at practice Wednesday, taking his normal snaps, but Taylor remained sidelined and questionable for Sunday’s game
“I felt OK at the time, but in looking at the film since then, maybe I was moving a little slower than everybody,” Leftwich said Wednesday, laughing. “At the time, I just didn’t know. I felt OK and there was no pain. It’s the first concussion I’ve had.”
Taylor was listed as questionable on the injury report before last Sunday, and has the same designation this week. Del Rio is hopeful that the Jaguars’ all-time leading rusher can return to practice this week.
“I’m more optimistic this week,” he said. “He’s better with the time down and so we’ll do all we can to get him to the game healthy. We hope to get a look at him tomorrow on the practice field.”
The Raiders are just looking to end another disappointing season. Oakland has dropped three of four, including a 31-30 defeat at Kansas City on Christmas Day.
Up by two with 22 seconds to go, the Raiders’ frustrating campaign continued as Kansas City’s rookie kicker Lawrence Tynes drilled a 38-yarder to give the Chiefs the win.
Sebastian Janikowski scored the last nine points for Oakland (5-10) on three field goals, including a 45-yarder that made it 28-27 with 3:49 left.
“This is very frustrating,” said Oakland running back Amos Zereoue. “You can’t ask for much more than we gave out there.”
Sunday’s game could be the last in an Oakland uniform for wide receiver Jerry Porter, who hasn’t been offered a contract by the Raiders as he heads to free agency after the season.
The 26-year-old Porter leads the Raiders with 61 catches for 963 yards and nine touchdowns.
Quarterback Kerry Collins said Wednesday he believes bringing Porter back should be among Oakland’s top offseason priorities.
“I think we need to sign Jerry Porter back,” Collins said. “I’ve gotten a good rapport established with him. He can be a 75-80 catch guy in this system, no problem.”