Jones-Drew starts and stars for Jaguars

Times Staff Writer

Maurice Jones-Drew wears No. 32 as a reminder of the number of teams that passed on him in the draft last spring.

That's all of them, and most of them are probably wishing they hadn't right about now.

Jones-Drew, picked 60th by the Jacksonville Jaguars out of UCLA, made his first start Sunday against the Patriots and rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-21 loss.

It was his second 100-yard performance in three games and gave him 15 touchdowns for the season, trailing only LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers (31) and Larry Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs (16).

He has 395 yards rushing in the last three games -- 895 for the season -- and has tied an NFL rookie record with rushing touchdowns in seven consecutive games.

Jones-Drew's 2,046 all-purpose yards are a team record and he has emerged as a rookie-of-the-year candidate, joining a much more heralded running back who came from another Los Angeles college.

"I'm not worrying about that," he said. "I'm just trying to help my team get to the playoffs. If the rookie of the year comes, then fine."

Barber shop closed

Tiki Barber, who has been with the New York Giants for his entire 10-year career, played what will probably be his last home game, a 30-7 loss to New Orleans.

Barber, 31, has announced he will retire at the end of this season.

"As strange as it may seem, I don't have overly strong emotions about this being my last game here," Barber said. "I know I've had great moments in this stadium. I know I'm going to miss it."

Barber was selected to three Pro Bowls and is one of three NFL players to gain 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards receiving in his career.

Still, he did not get nostalgic.

"I didn't look around, really," he said. "I gave my hat to a little girl in the stands, blew a final kiss and that was it."

Even fans give poor effort

A group of Detroit-area bloggers organized a protest at the Lions' game against the Bears, during which fans were supposed to walk out of the stadium midway through the second quarter.

Must not be a very popular blog, though, because only about 100 fans participated.

It was the second consecutive season fans have had organized protests of a team that is an NFL-worst 23-71 over the last six seasons and has lost at least 10 games every year.

They are calling for the firing of President Matt Millen and for owner William Clay Ford to sell the team.

"It's frustrating, because what can we do?" asked Jim Vermeulen of Plymouth, Mich., who wore a bag over his head, topped by a Santa hat. "It would be wonderful to get some committed ownership. I wish Mr. Ford would sell the team to someone who cared about winning."

Regained the edge

Edgerrin James rushed for 105 yards against the 49ers and became the first Arizona running back since 1998 to rush for 1,000 yards or more in a season.

It is his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season and somewhat surprising, considering he didn't have a 100-yard game until Dec. 3.

"I don't know if I'd call it my sweetest [1,000-yard season], but this was definitely the most interesting," said James, who has 398 yards over the last four weeks.

"The first six weeks, we had five different offensive lines. It was crazy, but we learned from it. Once we decided this is our unit we're going to play with, we started to roll."

Man down

The Patriots and Jaguars played most of their game short one official after umpire Garth DeFelice was hit in the neck by a pass and taken to a Jacksonville hospital for further examination.

DeFelice was unable to get out of the way of a pass by Jaguars quarterback David Garrard in the middle of the second quarter.

He dropped to the ground and stayed there several minutes while Jaguars trainers examined him, but he walked off the field without assistance.

An NFL spokesperson said DeFelice has a history of neck problems so he was taken to the hospital after having X-rays at Alltel Stadium.

Injury report

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner from USC, sprained his left shoulder late in the first half against San Francisco and will sit out next week, ending his rookie season one game early.

Leinart won't need surgery but is scheduled for an MRI exam Wednesday.

"It hurts pretty good, but it's nothing serious, so that's a good thing," said Leinart, who was told such injuries require about four weeks to heal. "Nothing popped, nothing tore. There were no noises. I just fell on it hard."

In other injury news:

Browns quarterback Derek Anderson separated his right shoulder in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay.... Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs broke his shoulder blade at St. Louis.... Giants kick returner Chad Morton tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee covering a punt.... Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant left in the third quarter against San Diego with a sprained right ankle and did not return.... 49ers offensive lineman Jonas Jennings dislocated his right shoulder against Arizona.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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