Mark Brunell made good on a second chance to put the Jacksonville Jaguars in charge of the AFC Central.
A week after the worst performance of his career with the Jaguars, Brunell threw a career-best four touchdown passes--one in each quarter--in Jacksonville’s 34-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
Jacksonville improved to 9-3 for the first time in its four-year history and opened a two-game lead in the AFC Central, which the Jaguars have never won. Three of the Jaguars’ last four games are at home, where they are 5-0 this season.
“We’re on the verge of doing something here,” said Keenan McCardell, who had seven catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns. “November and December are when the great players step up.”
One week earlier, the Jaguars had a chance to take a three-game lead in the division but Brunell threw three interceptions--Dewayne Washington returning two for touchdowns--in a 30-15 loss to the Steelers at Pittsburgh.
“I certainly was bothered by it--three interceptions, two of them for touchdowns,” said Brunell, who was 19 for 35 for 244 yards with no interceptions against the Bengals (2-10). “There are going to be days like that. What’s important is how you bounce back from that.”
By losing to Detroit in overtime Thursday, the Steelers gave Brunell and the Jaguars another chance to add to their AFC Central lead. They took advantage by forcing four turnovers in their first victory in Cincinnati.
The Jaguars, however, suffered a serious blow in the first quarter when two-time Pro Bowl tackle Tony Boselli and rookie running back Fred Taylor were injured on the same play. Boselli sprained an ankle and Taylor suffered an injury to his left shoulder.