Originally created 01/07/97

Jaguars close to making history



TOUGH TASK: The second-year Jaguars are a victory away from completing one of the most improbable playoff runs in NFL history, and if they do, they will have accomplished a road triple done only once before.

Since the NFL implemented a wild-card round in 1978, only three wild-card teams - Buffalo in 1992, New England in 1985 and Oakland in 1980 - have advanced to the Super Bowl.

Only once has a team advanced through the rout of the Jaguars - that is, winning all three playoff games on the road. Ironically, that team is this week's opponent, New England. In 1985, the Patriots won at the Jets, Oakland and Miami before losing to the Bears in Super Bowl XX.

Buffalo won the first playoff game at home against Houston in 1992; Oakland also played its first playoff game at home in 1980, also beating Houston.

INJURY REPORT: Jaguars center Dave Widell received treatment for his injured calf Monday, and his status for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Patriots is questionable.

Widell reinjured the calf on the first play of Sunday's 30-27 victory over the Denver Broncos. He initially suffered the injury in the wild-card game against the Buffalo Bills.

"Fortunately, he gets another 24 hours to rest," said Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin.

The Jaguars are off today before beginning serious preparations for the Patriots tomorrow.

If Widell can't play, rookie Michael Cheever would be the starter. Widell would still likely snap for kicks, which he did the entire game against

Denver.

SLIGHT DIFFERENCE: Coughlin was asked Monday if Saturday night's homecoming celebration reminded him of when he returned to Boston in 1993 after his Boston College team upset top-ranked Notre Dame.

"They weren't standing on my car," said Coughlin.

When Coughlin returned to Chestnut Hill, fans were jumping all over the cars in the parking lot.

"The same kind of electricity was in the air," said Coughlin.

Keeping an even keel

After two impressive playoff victories on the road, Jaguars players are riding high, right? Overflowing with confidence?

Not exactly.

Defensive back Bucky Brooks said players have not become over-confident.

"We know we're so close to the goal we have," Brooks said. "It's easy to guard against overconfidence. We know if we do our part we can get to the Super Bowl.

"Everybody was focused in on that. We know we're one game away from where we want to be."

Gran reception

Mark Brunell couldn't believe what he was seeing.

It was 1:30 a.m. Sunday, and the Jaguars' quarterback had stepped off the team bus at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. About 40,000 fans packed the stadium to welcome the Jaguars after their stunning 30-27 upset of Denver at Mile High Stadium.

"That was incredible," Brunell said. "I don't know if there's any place in the country where you'd find that."

- Compiled by staff