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A long night

Posted Dec 5, 2011

Jaguars lose to Chargers, 38-14, in interim coach Mel Tucker’s debut.

Blaine Gabbert knew it wasn’t enough, and knew it wasn’t close.

That went for the whole Jaguars team Monday night, an emotional night at EverBank Field that began with energy, excitement and enthusiasm and ended with the Jaguars insisting it was no time for excuses, no time for explanations.

The Jaguars, likely playing their final nationally televised home game with Wayne Weaver as owner and their first with Mel Tucker as interim coach, competed throughout an emotional first half . . .

Then, just like that, it was over.

Philip Rivers threw three touchdowns in a five-minute span against a Jaguars secondary decimated by injuries, and despite another solid game from two-time Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars lost to the San Diego Chargers, 38-14, in front of 62,743 at EverBank Field in downtown Jacksonville.

“Obviously, that was a tough one for us,” Tucker said. “Everyone was disappointed in the locker room. You never want to come out and have a result like that.”

Drew saw it just as simply.

“What coach said was right,” he said. “We didn’t play well enough to win.”

Gabbert, the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback, had his best half of the season in the first half, completing 11 of 15 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

He finished the game 19 of 33 for 195 yards, and went 8 of 18 for 56 yards in the second half.

 “We executed well in the second quarter, but the biggest thing we have to take out of this game is we have to execute like that the whole game,” Gabbert said. “We have to play four quarters of football. We can’t just have one great quarter.”

The Jaguars, after falling behind 10-0 on a 13-yard run by Mike Tolbert and a 29-yard field goal by Nick Novak – the first time since mid-October they allowed points on the game’s first two drives – rallied impressively in the second quarter.

Gabbert was a huge reason.

The rookie quarterback began the rally with a 5-for-5, 59-yard passing drive that he capped with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jones-Drew. That made it 10-7, Chargers.

The next drive was equally productive, with the Jaguars moving 70 yards on seven plays and Gabbert capping the drive with a fade pass to rookie Cecil Shorts.

It was the first time this season the Jaguars scored two touchdowns in the first half.

“I saw a quarterback who can make plays,” Tucker said of Gabbert’s first half. “I thought he did some good things. He was able to go through his progressions. He looked poised at times, so that was good. Obviously, we need to be more consistent in that area, but I was actually impressed and excited about some of things he did.”

At that point, EverBank Field was abuzz.

The next few minutes changed that dramatically, with the Chargers scoring three touchdowns in less than five minutes. First, Rivers found wide receiver Vincent Brown for a 22-yard touchdown to give San Diego a 17-14 lead, and after Chargers safety Eric Weddle intercepted Gabbert at the San Diego 41, Rivers capped a three-play, 59-yard drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to receiver Vincent Jackson.

“It doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth going in at halftime,” Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. “We just didn’t bring our A game.  That’s not how we want to play on defense.”

That made it 31-14, and when the Chargers opened the second half with a five-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Rivers throwing 52 yards to Malcolm Floyd, San Diego led 31-14.

“Those were critical areas in the game,” Tucker said. “Anytime you talk about the five minutes to end the half and the five minutes to start the second half, those are 10 minutes to win and we didn’t win that phase. That swung the momentum of the game.”

Of the Floyd touchdown, Jaguars safety Dawan Landry said, “They scored twice in a matter of two minutes, before the half was over, but that was a punch in the gut. We’ve got to put that one behind us and move forward.”

The Chargers for the game outgained the Jaguars, 433-306, with the Jaguars producing just 109 yards in the second half.

It was a difficult performance for a defense that entered the game ranked fourth in the NFL, but also entered it with a slew of starters out with injuries. With starting cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox already out with injuries, the team placed backup cornerback Will Middleton on injured reserve Friday.

Cornerback Ashton Youboty, who joined the team in mid-November, started a second game and allowed the long touchdown to Floyd. Rookie free agent Kevin Rutland started his first game and also allowed a touchdown.

Defensive end John Chick (knee) and safety Dwight Lowery (shoulder) each sustained injuries Monday, and the defense already was without ends Aaron Kampman and Matt Roth, as well as starting outside linebacker Clint Session.

“That’s the way it has been for us all year and it will continue to be that way,” linebacker Russell Allen said. “We just have to trust in the guys we’ve got and we have to execute better.”

The loss overshadowed another productive game from Jones-Drew, who rushed for 97 yards on 20 carries and caught six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. He accounted for 61 percent of the Jaguars’ offense, and through 12 games has rushed for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns.

Through 12 games, he leads the NFL in rushing.

“That’s nice, but we’re 3-9, so it doesn’t feel good,” Jones-Drew said. “You don’t play this game for individual accolades.”

Also Monday: 

*Shorts, a week after catching his first pass of the season, caught his first career touchdown when he caught a five-yard fade from Gabbert in the second quarter. “It felt great at that moment,” Shorts said. ”At that moment, it ended up being 14-10. Like I said before, I really wanted to win, but at that moment it felt great.”

*The Jaguars did not sack Rivers, who finished with three touchdowns and 294 yards passing. “We tried to get a rush with four guys,” Tucker said. “He seemed to be pretty comfortable. Even when we brought more than four, he was able to step up and deliver the ball.”

*Tucker said he didn’t immediately know the extent of the injuries to Chick and Lowery. Tight end Marcedes Lewis also left with an ankle injury and did not return.

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