Fred Taylor is almost always good for one huge play per game. He waited until the bitter end to pull it off on Sunday.
It was his third touchdown of the game, one he celebrated in style, gyrating with the goal post as the Jaguars (8-2) won their third consecutive game and took a two-game lead over the Steelers in the AFC Central with a game at Pittsburgh on tap next week.
"He's a great addition to our team," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said of his first-round draft pick. "You might stop him a few times, but at some point, he'll come free, and when he does ..."
Taylor finished with 128 yards on 21 carries to tie the Jaguars' single-game rushing record he set Sept. 20 against Baltimore.
His performance helped squelch all talk of the playoffs in Tampa Bay (4-6). The Bucs lost their seventh consecutive road game and would need to finish the season undefeated to match last year's 10-6 record.
"We're not thinking about that right now," said defensive lineman Warren Sapp. "The way we're playing, we're not going to beat anybody. We need to go back home and regroup. There are six weeks left in the season and we can't just pack it in."
| Fred Taylor outruns the Buccaneers defense to score the game-winning touchdown./b> (AP) |
The run was eerily familiar for the Buccaneers, who allowed Oilers quarterback Steve McNair to go 71 yards late in last week's game to help Tennessee seal a 31-22 victory.
Before Taylor's game breaker, it looked like Tampa Bay's combination of Trent Dilfer and Reidel Anthony would be enough to hand the Jaguars their first home loss of the season.
They connected on a a 47-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter to cut Jacksonville's early lead to 14-10.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Dilfer saw Anthony streaking down the middle of the field. He hit him for a short completion that Anthony turned into a 79-yard touchdown by outrunning Travis Davis and Aaron Beasley in the open field.
It gave the Bucs a 24-20 lead, and Anthony celebrated with a long dance punctuated by a pelvic thrust toward the crowd, the same one Taylor would mock minutes later.
"I've still got to find a good dance," Taylor said. "But Reidel helped me with his. You all saw his."
After Mike Hollis' field goal pulled the Jaguars within one, they forced the Bucs to go three-and-out.
On the first play after the punt, Taylor scooted up the middle past a fallen John Lynch, then moved to the left sideline and outran safety Charles Mincy for his 11th touchdown of the season.
"By now, we're used to it," Jaguars lineman Ben Coleman said. "We understand how special he is. He's cocky when he gets the ball. He comes back to the huddle and says `Fellas, just give me half a second -- just give me a second and I can get to the house."'
The Bucs had a chance after Taylor's run, but Beasley picked off a Dilfer pass on fourth-and-5 with 1:49 remaining.
On the next drive, Taylor ran for 9 yards on the first two plays and Mark Brunell converted a third-and-1 with a quarterback sneak to put the game away.
Brunell completed 22 of 37 passes for 248 yards.
Taylor also had a 6-yard run to give the Jaguars a 7-0 lead four plays after Tony Brackens recovered a Mike Alstott fumble at the Bucs 30-yard line.
After a Tampa Bay field goal, the Jags drove 77 yards for their second touchdown, capped by Taylor's 3-yard run around left end.
Other than his completions to Anthony, Dilfer struggled, finishing 9-for-23 for 189 yards. Warrick Dunn had 16 rushes for 107 yards, but the Bucs continued winless on the road since a 20-8 victory against the New York Giants last November.
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