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Relieved Jaguars hold on, take over second in Central

Published Oct. 2, 2005

Jacksonville didn't let it slip away this time.

The Jaguars avoided squandering a fourth-quarter lead for a third straight week Sunday when Tony Brackens tackled Frank Wycheck short of the goal line on fourth and 2 with 2:58 left, preserving a 30-24 victory over the Tennessee Oilers.

"It was one we definitely needed," running back James Stewart said. "It was a boost. The last two weeks have been horrible, losing games we should have won. It wasn't pretty sometimes, but we got a win and that's the most important thing for this team."

Jacksonville started seeing visions of its losses to Dallas and Pittsburgh when the Jaguars stalled repeatedly in the second half, settling for two field goals from Mike Hollis.

The Oilers finally got their offense moving and trimmed a 27-10 deficit in the third quarter to 30-24, then got the ball back with less than 10 minutes left.

Steve McNair moved the Oilers 84 yards to Jacksonville's 7. But the Oilers, winners of three straight, couldn't get closer than the 2 before Brackens' tackle ended their final drive.

The Oilers' final play, a shovel pass, was the same one that worked for Pittsburgh against Jacksonville in overtime last week. But this time, the Jaguars smothered the play.

"I didn't see him coming," Brackens said. "I just reacted."

The Jaguars ran out the clock and took sole possession of second in the AFC Central.

Oilers coach Jeff Fisher said he would decide to go for the touchdown again if he had the chance. The Oilers had two more chances to get the ball back before the game ended, but the Jaguars picked up two first downs to seal the victory.

"We just couldn't play particularly well in the first half. We couldn't overcome the penalties," Fisher said.

Or the two missed field goals or two first-half turnovers.

Chris Hudson returned a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown, Mark Brunell threw for a touchdown and ran for another, and Hollis kicked field goals of 30, 30 and 37 yards for the Jaguars.

Jacksonville shut down the Oilers' rushing attack, allowing them only 107 yards. Eddie George, who scored a 5-yard TD, gained 51 yards on 17 carries.

Dave Thomas stripped George of the ball that Hudson returned for a touchdown, and Hudson intercepted a pass from McNair on the Oilers' next play thanks to Brackens, who tipped the pass.

The Jaguars offense still had its problems. Jacksonville was outgained for the sixth straight game as the Oilers had 302 yards to 290 for the Jags.

But Stewart, who hadn't rushed for more than 40 yards in each of the Jaguars' last two losses, ran 17 times for 99 yards against an Oilers defense that ranked fourth in the NFL allowing only 95 yards a game.

"For us to win on the road is quite a relief," Brunell said. "The last two have been tough, but for us to win on the road, it gives us a lot of confidence."

McNair said the Oilers came out too flat in a first half marked by rain that sent many of the 27,208 fans in the Liberty Bowl scurrying for cover. But he said he liked how his teammates didn't quit.

"We were 20-something points behind, and we didn't give up... You hate to lose in that fashion. We had a chance to win, and we didn't," he said.