PLAY IT AGAIN

Brady, Pa­tri­ots take on Jaguars in re­match of last sea­son’s AFC ti­tle game

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - WEEK 2 - By Mark Long

Tashaun Gip­son re­mem­bers his first game against Tom Brady five years ago as vividly as his last one eight months ago.

They had sim­i­lar endings. Brady threw two touch­down passes in the fi­nal 61 sec­onds to stun Gip­son and the Cleve­land Browns in 2013. The three-time league MVP tossed two scores in the fi­nal 9 min­utes to de­feat Gip­son and the Jack­sonville Jaguars in the AFC cham­pi­onship game in Jan­uary.

“There’s just noth­ing you can do when you’re play­ing a guy like that,” said Gip­son, a free safety.

The Jaguars un­der­stand that as well as any­body. They are the only AFC team that has never beaten the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots with Brady un­der cen­ter. Their 0-8 record in­cludes a few tight games, sev­eral lop­sided losses and, most re­cently, a come­from-be­hind gut punch that kept Jack­sonville from the Su­per Bowl. Now, the Jags be­lieve they are over­due for a vic­tory against one of the NFL’s great­est quar­ter­backs.

Their next op­por­tu­nity comes Sun­day against the Pa­tri­ots (1-0), a re­match of the con­fer­ence ti­tle game. And there’s no doubt the Jaguars (1-0) have had it cir­cled on the cal­en­dar for some time.

“Jack­sonville has never beaten him?” Gip­son said.

Nope. Win­less in eight tries. “So, 1 of 9,” he said, pre­dict­ing a vic­tory. “I like it.”

Jack­sonville has stewed since its last loss to New Eng­land, lament­ing missed op­por­tu­ni­ties to put the Pa­tri­ots away and what they in­sist was a bad call on line­backer Myles Jack’s forced fum­ble and re­cov­ery.

“I’d be ly­ing if I didn’t say I’ve been think­ing about last year’s re­sults,” Jaguars cor­ner­back A.J. Bouye said. “We def­i­nitely want to win against them here.”

“We can use that (loss) as mo­ti­va­tion, but we can’t get that back. It’s a new year. That’s how it is ev­ery year. What­ever hap­pened in the past, you for­get about it. Those that hold onto it, they stay com­pla­cent or they get ahead of them­selves be­cause they’re com­par­ing to what hap­pened last year. We can’t do that.”

Still, there have plenty of re­minders this week.

Coach Doug Mar­rone has played Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” dur­ing prac­tice; the song is a sta­ple at Pa­tri­ots home games. The Jaguars also have the Su­per Bowl play­ing re­peat­edly in the locker room.

Although play­ers un­der­stand it’s Week 2 and there’s lit­tle at stake, they also know what knock­ing off the de­fend­ing AFC champs could do for a young team mov­ing for­ward.

“It would def­i­nitely show that we’ve grown and we’ve got­ten that lit­tle monkey off our back,” Jaguars de­fen­sive tackle Ma­lik Jack­son said. “I think the out­side world would re­ally see us grad­u­at­ing to that next stage. But we’ve still got 14 games to play. This isn’t an end-all, be-all, but it is a mean­ing­ful game.”

For the Pats, it doesn’t seem to mean quite as much.

“It’s go­ing to be an emo­tional en­vi­ron­ment,” Brady said. “I think ev­ery­one, when­ever you play some of the best teams, you want to see where you’re mea­sured up to, and that de­fense has been ranked very high all last year, and I could see why. ... They’ve got a lot of very tal­ented play­ers, some of the guys that are prob­a­bly the best at their po­si­tion.

“It should be a re­ally great game for us to go out and see what we’re made of.”

Here are some other things to know about the Pa­tri­ots and Jaguars:

FOUR­NETTE SITS?

Jaguars run­ning back Leonard Four­nette ex­pects to be a “ga­me­time de­ci­sion” be­cause of a strained right ham­string. Four­nette missed prac­tice Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day be­cause of the in­jury sus­tained in the opener.

SPE­CIAL TEAMS FO­CUS

The Pa­tri­ots, usu­ally stout on spe­cial teams, strug­gled in the opener. They al­lowed 156 yards on kick­offs, a num­ber way higher than spe­cial teams coach Joe Judge wants to see.

“This time of year, a lot of times it’s work­ing dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of play­ers and get­ting guys in the right po­si­tion to make plays next to one another,” Judge said.

BALL SE­CU­RITY

Pa­tri­ots tight end Rob Gronkowski said there would be an ex­tra em­pha­sis on ball se­cu­rity in prepa­ra­tion for the Jaguars, who have scored an NFL-high nine de­fen­sive touch­downs since the start of last sea­son.

The Pa­tri­ots had three fum­bles (two lost) in their opener, and Gronkowski was re­spon­si­ble for one of them.

“I think they get a turnover one out of ev­ery five pos­ses­sions they av­er­age. That statis­tic right there is un­be­liev­able,” Gronkowski said. “It just shows how good of a de­fense they are, and you can’t just go out there and just jog around . ... When you have the ball, you’ve got to pro­tect it and get up the field.”

[WINSLOW TOWNSON/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]

Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady throws against the Jaguars dur­ing the AFC ti­tle game Jan. 21 at Gillette Sta­dium in Foxbor­ough, Mass.

[CHARLES KRUPA/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]

Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady gives a shout as he takes the field to warm up be­fore the AFC ti­tle game against the Jaguars on Jan. 21 in Foxbor­ough, Mass. The teams bat­tle again Sun­day in Jack­sonville.

[ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTOS]

At left, Jaguars cor­ner­back Jalen Ramsey (20) ges­tures dur­ing the first half of a game against the Gi­ants on Sept. 9 in East Rutherford, N.J. At right, also on Sept. 9, Pa­tri­ots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) cel­e­brates his touch­down against the Tex­ans dur­ing the first half of a game in Foxbor­ough, Mass. Ramsey made head­lines when he told ESPN The Mag­a­zine last month, “I don’t think Gronk is as great as peo­ple think he is.” It’s added some ex­tra fuel to New Eng­land’s visit to Jack­sonville on Sun­day.

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