Chiefs get caught in Jaguars' rush hour Running game lifts Jacksonville, 21-16

September 14, 1998|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For all the talk about Derrick Thomas' six sacks last week and Kansas City's blitz-crazy defense, the Jacksonville Jaguars dished out their own brand of punishment yesterday.

It was the blunt end of their once-dormant running game.

A Jacksonville team that lives and dies with the pass looked curiously like a smash-mouth running outfit in a 21-16 victory over the injury-ravaged Chiefs at Alltel Stadium.

While quarterback Mark Brunell passed for the second-lowest yardage total of his career, the Jaguars were busting the Chiefs for 149 yards on 37 rushes. James Stewart was at the point of attack with 103 yards, becoming the first running back in Jacksonville's brief four-year history to post back-to-back 100-yard games.

Consider it a comment on the improved state of the Jaguars.

"We definitely wanted to make a statement," tackle Leon Searcy said. "Anytime you're on national TV against one of the top-rated defensive teams in the league and run the ball as well as we did, you want to make a statement.

"We played a very physical game. If we keep running like that all year, we'll be something to be reckoned with."

The reckoning continues next week when the Ravens visit Alltel, where the Jaguars have won 16 of their last 17 games and suddenly are being touted as Super Bowl timber.

Yesterday, the Jaguars (2-0) needed two big kick returns, some timely defense and their newly-discovered ground game to put away a Chiefs team that had lost its quarterback, its top receiver, its best offensive lineman and its top two defensive ends to injury.

Kansas City doesn't have an injury list, it has a hospital ward.

Even though quarterback Rich Gannon passed for 263 yards filling in for injured Elvis Grbac, he didn't get the Chiefs (1-1) in the end zone until the final four minutes. It was left to the Chiefs' defense to win this game, and Thomas, who had six sacks in a Week 1 demolition of the Oakland Raiders, couldn't pull it off. He hit Brunell twice on the Jaguars' first series -- but never sacked him -- and finished with just two tackles.

The task of slowing Thomas' speed rush was given to Jacksonville tackles Tony Boselli and Searcy.

"Once we established a consistent ground game, they couldn't bring DT left, DT right. We kept 'em on their heels," Searcy said.

For much of the game, the Chiefs and Jaguars were at each other's throats, too. Boselli engaged in a brief pushing match with Thomas, wrestled linebacker Anthony Davis to the ground and took a swing at defensive tackle Darius Holland.

Holland enraged the Jaguars' Pro Bowl tackle when he delivered a late hit on Brunell in the second half. "It's my job to protect the quarterback," Boselli said. "If they're going to take a cheap shot like that, it makes me upset."

Sacked three times, Brunell completed 11 of 18 passes for 126 yards.

The Jaguars also were opportunistic in the return game. Their first touchdown came on an 85-yard punt return by Reggie Barlow. Their last touchdown, a 1-yard dive by Stewart, came after rookie Tavian Banks returned the second-half kickoff 65 yards to the Kansas City 31.

But when it was winning time -- after Mike Hollis missed two field goals and the Chiefs mounted their biggest rally -- the Jaguars went to the running game.

After the Chiefs closed within five points, Stewart punched out two first downs and rookie Fred Taylor broke a 20-yard run to finish off the Chiefs.

Florida blues

In the '90s, the Chiefs are 1-8 in games played in Florida:

Yr. .. .. .. Site .. .. .. .. Result

'98 .. .. .. at Jaguars .. .. L 21-16

'97 .. .. .. at Jaguars .. .. L 24-10

'97 .. .. .. at Dolphins . .. L 17-14

'95 .. .. .. at Dolphins . .. L 13-6

'94 .. .. .. at Dolphins .. . L 45-28

'94 .. .. .. at Dolphins .. . LT27-17*

'93 .. .. .. at Bucs .. .. .. W 27-3

'93 .. .. .. at Dolphins .. . L 30-10

'90 .. .. .. at Dolphins .. . L 17-16*

*-playoff games

Pub Date: 9/14/98

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