JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)—David Garrard’s most memorable victory had been in college, when his East Carolina team upset the mighty Miami Hurricanes in 1999.
This one easily topped that.
Making his first start in nearly two years, Garrard proved he’s more than just a career backup or a scrambling quarterback.
“It feels like a dream right now,” he said. “I’m still living in the moment. I can’t put my thoughts together right now, but it feels good. I hope it’s just one more step for me on my quarterbacking resume.”
Garrard finished 19-of-36 for 198 yards and added 42 yards rushing.
He was at his best in overtime, hooking up with Smith three times and going 4-of-7 for 75 yards. They connected for gains of 17 and 16 yards before the game-winner.
“I knew if I could just get the ball to Jimmy, he could take care of the rest,” Garrard said. “I knew we needed some big plays and I knew he was the man to get them.”
Fred Taylor did his part, too.
Taylor had a season-high 144 yards rushing as the Lions (4-5) were pounded on the ground for a second consecutive week and lost their third straight game. Detroit had gone 13 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher before Washington’s Clinton Portis ran for 147 yards last week.
The Lions were even worse against Jacksonville (6-3), giving up 239 yards on the ground. But they managed to send it to overtime after Eddie Drummond returned two punts for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“It was a spectacular day for him,” Lions coach Steve Mariucci said.
Drummond’s first was a 55-yarder that gave the Lions their first points. It came after two Jacksonville players touched the ball but failed to down it.
His second—an 83-yarder with 46 seconds remaining that tied the game— came after the Jags failed to pick up a first down and run out the clock.
“They were just about ready to quit, but we let them back into it and made it more exciting than it should have been,” said Taylor, who missed most of the third quarter with leg cramps. “But we are the Jaguars and that’s what we’ve been doing all year.”
The Jags’ previous five wins all came in the waning minutes, so going into overtime was no big deal.
They won the coin toss, and Garrard and Smith did the rest. Smith finished with seven catches for 109 yards and passed James Lofton for 12th on the NFL’s career receptions list with 767 catches.
“I’ve had to make plays my whole life, my entire career,” said Garrard, who holds just about every career passing record at East Carolina. “That wasn’t any different today.”
It was quite different from Garrard’s first start, the 2002 season finale against Indianapolis in which he was sacked three times, fumbled once and lost 20-13.
“It didn’t look like his second start, but that didn’t surprise me,” Lions cornerback Fernando Bryant said. “He’s a very confident player and he looked like it today.”
Garrard got plenty of help from Taylor and the defense, too.
Kevin Jones, getting all the carries for the first time this season, ran for a tough 81 yards. But he was the lone bright spot for Detroit.
Joey Harrington was under a steady rush on nearly every passing play. He was 11-of-33 for 121 yards with an interception, and had his streak of games with at least one TD pass snapped at eight.
He didn’t have much help from his injury depleted receiving corps. Rookie Roy Williams, slowed by the ankle he sprained last month against Atlanta, finished with two catches for 64 yards.
“When we’ve got teams like that down, we’ve got to step on their necks,” Taylor said. “I’m excited but not satisfied because we should have blown that team out.”
Jags DT Marcus Stroud strained a knee in the fourth quarter, but coach Jack Del Rio said he could have returned. … Lions PK Jason Hanson missed a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter, his first miss inside 40 yards this season.
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