Jacksonville is three games behind undefeated Indianapolis with six to play. The teams meet for the second time this season on Dec. 11 at Jacksonville, but Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio realizes a division title may be out of reach.
“Indy is making it very difficult to catch them,” Del Rio acknowledged. “We’re going to do the best we can to win all we can. That’s the big picture and I don’t shy away from the big picture but I turn quickly to the task at hand.”
The Colts are the only team with a winning record remaining on Jacksonville’s schedule. The other five opponents have a combined 12-38 record, leaving the Jaguars in good position to earn a playoff berth in the AFC.
Jacksonville has won three straight games, with the last two victories coming on the strength of its offense. The Jaguars topped 30 points for the second consecutive game in a 31-28 victory Sunday at Tennessee.
“We’re a lot more versatile,” Taylor said. “Young guys are starting to emerge and make some big plays. They’re starting to believe in their abilities in this league.”
The versatility has come from running back Greg Jones and rookie wide receiver Matt Jones. Greg Jones has rushed for 307 yards this season, but 183 of them came in two starts replacing the injured Taylor. Matt Jones, a converted receiver from collegiate quarterback, has caught 17 passes for 232 yards and four touchdowns over the last five games.
“I don’t think you can look at our offense and not see the physical presence of Greg Jones and the playmaking ability of Matt Jones.” Del Rio said. “They’ve all stepped up and played big in the last month, and we’re going to need them to play big in the next month and a half.”
The Cardinals also have been progressing offensively in recent weeks, and they snapped a three-game losing streak with a 38-28 win at St. Louis last Sunday.
Kurt Warner threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns against his former team, and the oft-maligned rushing game contributed 94 yards and a rushing score for the Cardinals, who average a league-worst 70.1 yards on the ground.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys, and we’ve been bringing them up very rapidly, and I like them all,” coach Dennis Green said Monday. “I think that when things don’t go according to plan, you just have to fight your way through it.”
Second-year receiver Larry Fitzgerald is 42 yards away from 1,000 and has three consecutive 100-yard games. Fitzgerald, who has 26 receptions for 347 yards and two touchdowns in that span, teamed with Anquan Boldin to total 17 receptions for 209 yards and two scores against the Rams.