JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The New England Patriots left
Jacksonville with more championship shirts and hats.
It wasn't the Super Bowl kind, but they'll gladly wear them -- at
least for now.
Tom Brady directed three long touchdown drives, capped one of
them with a perfect touch pass to David Thomas, and helped the
Patriots clinch their fourth consecutive AFC East crown with a
24-21 victory against the Jaguars on a rainy Sunday.
They did it on the same field they won their last Super Bowl, in
"We've accomplished something now," said linebacker Tedy
Bruschi while he donned a championship hat and T-shirt. "It's our
first goal. We can look at it as a positive for the next couple of
days. The first thing you have to do is to win the division and
then go from there."
Brady was brilliant in both games at Alltel Stadium.
He was 23-of-33 for 236 yards and two touchdowns in the Super
Bowl victory against Philadelphia. He was even better against the
He finished 28-of-39 for 249 yards and a touchdown, completing
passes to 10 receivers and picking apart the NFL's second-ranked
defense mostly with short and quick throws. He also ran 10 times
for 31 yards, getting several first downs on sneaks and scrambling
for yards to avoid sacks.
"He's a great leader," offensive tackle Matt Light said. "He
went out there and did what he always does. Whenever we needed a
big play he's always out there making them."
Brady and the Patriots (11-4) also crippled Jacksonville's
postseason chances. The Jaguars, who have lost two in a row, need
to win at Kansas City next week and get lots of help to earn a
"We had two weeks with the chance to handle it ourselves and we
didn't get it done," defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said. "If we
get into the playoffs, so be it. If we don't, we can't blame nobody
The Jaguars made the playoffs last season, but promptly lost
28-3 at New England. That game was decided early in the second half
when the Pats scored 21 unanswered points.
New England put Jacksonville away much later Sunday.
Laurence Maroney, who missed the last two games with torn rib
cartilage, had a 27-yard touchdown run with 4:36 remaining to put
the Patriots ahead 24-14.
But Jacksonville answered when David Garrard hooked up with Matt
Jones for a 33-yard score about a minute later. The defense then
forced its first three-and-out, giving the offense the ball near
midfield with 1:55 to play. Garrard, though, scrambled out of the
pocket and fumbled after getting hit by Jarvis Green.
Rodney Harrison, back after missing six weeks with a broken
shoulder blade, recovered to seal the victory.
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio thought Garrard's arm was moving
forward and it should have been an incomplete pass. Officials
reviewed the play and upheld the call.
"For the most part I played pretty decent, but to have the last
drive come out the way it did, it hurts," said Garrard, who now
has nine turnovers in the team's last four losses, including three
that got returned for touchdowns last week at Tennessee. "I have
to do a better job of not having the turnovers."
Or maybe watch and learn from Brady.
Throwing often because of Jacksonville's stout run defense,
Brady engineered a 78-yard to open the second half. He was 4-for-5
for 68 yards and his best throw was his last, a 22-yarder over the
middle that Thomas caught as he dived across the goal line, making
He was even better on the 68-yard drive that ended with
Maroney's run. He completed both passes and picked up a first down
with a 7-yard scramble on third down.
"We've been successful down here twice and it's good to get a
win," Brady said.
The Jaguars scored all three times with the help of big plays.
Maurice Drew, starting in place of Fred Taylor (hamstring), had
a 74-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that put the Jaguars
ahead 7-3. Drew ran into the back of tight end Kyle Brady and fell
to the ground. No Patriot touched Drew down, so the 5-foot-7 rookie
quickly popped up, broke a tackle by Harrison and scampered for the
long touchdown. Patriots coach Bill Belichick challenged, but
officials ruled Drew had not been touched.
"I was sure. That's why I got up and kept going," said Drew,
who finished with 131 yards rushing and 41 yards receiving.
"There's a lot of energy wasted if you get up and run if you're
Drew scored again in the third quarter, a 1-yard plunge that
made it 17-14. He now has 15 touchdowns. His second score followed
a 41-yard completion from Garrard to Ernest Wilford deep down the
But it wasn't enough.
"Any loss is tough," cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "We
controlled our own destiny, and being as good of a team as we are,
we might not get a chance to experience the playoffs this year.