It’s a Wonderful Game for James Stewart
No one asked James Stewart about fumbles or playing second-fiddle to Natrone Means. They all wanted to know about touchdowns and how it felt to be mentioned with Jim Brown.
Stewart became only the fourth NFL player to rush for five touchdowns in a game Sunday as Jacksonville manhandled the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-21.
The Jaguars lost Means to a sprained ankle on their first drive but got the rushing they wanted from Stewart, a first-round pick in 1995 who bore the brunt of criticism in their expansion season.
He scored on runs of seven, eight and two yards and twice from one yard out to become the first player to rush for five touchdowns since Buffalo’s Cookie Gilchrist on Dec. 8, 1963, against the New York Jets when the teams were in the AFL. The NFL recognizes those records.
Brown and Ernie Nevers are the only others to have at least five rushing touchdowns in a game. Nevers holds the record with six.
The last player to score five touchdowns in a game was San Francisco 49er wide receiver Jerry Rice on Oct. 14, 1990, against Atlanta.
“My dad is from Cleveland so I grew up hearing about Jim Brown,” said Stewart, who ran 15 times for 102 yards, only the second 100-yard game of his career. “I can’t be mentioned with those guys. They’re all great running backs. My career is young.”
As a rookie, Stewart was booed for not producing on an expansion team with a patchwork offensive line. He was blamed for last year’s 20-6 loss to New England in the AFC championship game when his fumble was returned for a touchdown.
“It was hard on James, but James doesn’t take it off the field,” said left tackle Tony Boselli, who cleared gaping holes for Stewart throughout the game. “He worked hard on his speed and his balance. He was running extremely hard out there.”
It was the 10th consecutive home victory for the Jaguars (5-1), who had 149 yards rushing in 24 carries.
That kind of performance was expected out of the Eagles, who ran 50 times for 203 yards last week in a victory over the Washington Redskins and were fifth in the league in rushing.
“The physical presence was the big difference,” Eagle Coach Ray Rhodes said.
The Jaguar defense stuffed the Eagles early, and the offense did its part by taking a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. Two of the scores came after long drives, the third after a blocked punt.
All of them ended with Stewart in the end zone. His three first-quarter touchdowns marked the best one-quarter performance since Rod Bernstein of San Diego scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter in 1991.
The Eagles (2-4) managed only 90 yards rushing in 27 attempts, the first time all year they have failed to gain at least 100 yards. Irving Fryar had three touchdown receptions for Philadelphia.