JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Jacksonville’s locker room lacked its typical postgame victory celebration.
The music, usually blaring, was merely background noise. The hootin’ and hollerin’, which often borders on obnoxious, was left on the field. Even the trash talk, something that defines this confident group, was at a minimum.
The Jaguars routed the Oakland Raiders 49-11 on Sunday, clinching a postseason spot in emphatic, yet quiet, fashion.
Why so calm? Jacksonville, having won six of its last seven games and securing the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs, has a much bigger goal now.
“This was the first step,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “We have a few more steps to go. We are still climbing the mountain. We haven’t reached the top of it yet. We haven’t even peaked. After we peak, then the champagne bottles will come.”
The Jaguars (11-4) could have celebrated this one at halftime.
Fred Taylor had a 62-yard touchdown run on Jacksonville’s opening play, the Jaguars scored on their first four possessions and the defense harassed No. 1 draft pick JaMarcus Russell for most of the day.
So much for a letdown after last week’s big win at Pittsburgh. So much for a Pro Bowl hangover. And so much for having to worry about winning at nemesis Houston in the season finale.
In fact, Jacksonville could use next week to rest several starters and prepare for the first round of the playoffs.
Coach Jack Del Rio even got a jump on that Sunday, pulling Taylor, quarterback David Garrard and several others in the blowout.
“We won this game like we needed to,” said Taylor, who finished with 111 yards on just seven carries for his fifth consecutive 100-yard day. “But I don’t think anybody’s overly excited. We’re excited about making it, but you don’t see anybody jumping for joy or any champagne being popped in here. It’s just another game that we’re guaranteed to play.”
The Raiders (4-11), who suffered their worst loss of the season, finally turned things over to Russell. Although it might help down the road, it was pretty much disastrous against Jacksonville.
Russell was 7-of-23 for 83 yards with a touchdown—a 2-yard pass to Zach Miller with 6 seconds remaining—three interceptions and a fumble.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of things to learn from today,” Russell said. “Things didn’t go the way we wanted to, but I learned things and that’s what you want.”
Josh McCown started the game, but no matter which one of them was under center, the Raiders were overmatched in their first game in Jacksonville.
“The whole game was out of control, from … when (Taylor) took that run in,” Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “It wasn’t embarrassing. It was mortifying if I can use that word. That’s probably the most disappointing loss I’ve had, especially this late in the season when everybody’s been preaching finish strong, we can spoil (things for) Jacksonville.
“And they come out and put those points up on us? That’s very disappointing.”
Oakland looked like a team that has lost nine of 11. It looked like a West Coast team struggling to find a rhythm after traveling across the country and then playing what would be a 10 a.m. start at home. And it looked like a team ready for the offseason.
Jacksonville’s four touchdowns in the first half came on drives of one, seven, one and three plays.
Taylor started it off. He picked up 5 yards on Jacksonville’s first snap, but the Raiders were flagged for having 12 men on the field.
With just 11, no one could stop Taylor. He started right, cut back left, broke a tackle, waited patiently for a downfield block, then strolled into the end zone.
His TD run set the tone for the rout.
“Any time you get big plays like that, it just fires the team up,” Jaguars center Brad Meester said. “Seeing Freddy break away like that is a huge boost for us and gets us going and gets the entire team heading in the right direction.”
Garrard was 11-of-18 for 199 yards with an interception, his third of the season.
The pick came at the end of a strange series that including four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against the Raiders and the ejection of defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
By then, the Jaguars were ahead 28-3 and on the verge of their second playoff berth in the last three years.
“Not only do we want get back, we want to get back and win,” Jags defensive end Paul Spicer said. “We’re not just happy we’re in. We want to get in there and take care of business and win.”
Spicer bruised his left ankle in the second half, but should be OK. … Dominic Rhodes was the lone bright spot for Oakland, gaining 115 yards on 27 carries. … The Raiders finished with 215 yards. … The Jaguars have scored at least 24 points in nine consecutive games and gained at least 400 yards in five straight, both team records.