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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 07, 2012 9:46 pm

Jaguars falter at home again, lose 41-3 to Bears

By MARK LONGAP Sports Writer

As poorly as last season started for the Jacksonville Jaguars, this one has been worse.

The Jaguars (1-4) turned in another lackluster performance at home Sunday, failing to gain 200 yards while giving up more than 500 in a 41-3 loss at the Chicago Bears.

Blaine Gabbert threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns and lost a fumble. Maurice Jones-Drew was held to 56 yards rushing, his fewest since December 2010. And Jacksonville's defense, which played well in the first half, got worn down and abused after the break.

"It's not good enough," first-year Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. "I know that."

The Bears (4-1) put the game away early in the third quarter, engineering a 17-play drive that ended with a field goal and then getting a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown from Charles Tillman.

Jacksonville never recovered and played the final quarter amid a chorus of boos.

The Jaguars, whose offense is statistically worse than at the same point last season, now head into their bye week with serious questions about the direction of the team under general manager Gene Smith, quarterback Blaine Gabbert and maybe even Mularkey.

With Smith assembling the roster, the Jaguars have lost 18 of their last 24 games. Gabbert is 5-14 as a starter and has failed to throw for more than 260 yards in any game. And Mularkey wants to "stay the course."

The Jags have been downright pathetic in three home games this season. They managed 117 yards in the home opener against Houston, 212 last week against Cincinnati and 189 Sunday.

"I can talk up here all night about what we did, but that's not going to cure anything," Gabbert said. "We've got to come out in the second half and play better football. It starts with me. When you throw two Pick Sixes in a half, that's awful. I've got to find a way to fix that and get this offense going a little bit."

Gabbert completed 17 of 33 passes for 142 yards, with the two interceptions, and wasn't helped by several dropped balls. The Bears stacked the line of scrimmage, clearly wanting to shut down Jones-Drew. It worked, as Jones-Drew finished with 56 yards on 12 carries.

"It's been the same thing for five years," Jones-Drew said. "Obviously, we're not working hard enough. I don't know. We're just not playing well right now. We have to figure something out. No one here is going to save us. It's the guys in this locker room. There's no one we can bring in to help. We got to look man to man at each other and figure out what we're going to do."

Following Tillman's touchdown, the Jaguars allowed consecutive scoring drives after playing stout defense in the first half.

Jay Cutler hooked up with rookie Alshon Jeffery for a 10-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter and found Brandon Marshall for a 24-yarder with 8:37 remaining in the game.

Lance Briggs returned another interception for a score after that, a 36-yarder that made it 34-3.

"It just snowballed," cornerback Rashean Mathis said.

Cutler completed 23 of 39 passes for 292 yards, with two TDs and an interception before giving way to backup Jason Campbell.

Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards. Forte, who has one touchdown this season, ran 22 times for 107 yards.

Few outsiders gave the Jaguars a chance before the game. The only thing that seemingly was in Jacksonville's favor was catching Chicago on a short week. The Bears got home from Dallas early Tuesday and were back on a plane Saturday.

That may have contributed to Chicago's slow start. But it mattered little in the second half - thanks mostly to the interceptions.

"No one feels worse than we do," Mathis said. "We're not producing the way we should be."

NOTES: Tillman became the franchise's all-time leader in defensive touchdowns with eight. ... Jeffery left the game with a hand injury. ... Jaguars PK Josh Scobee tied Mike Hollis for the most FGs (175) in franchise history. ... Jones-Drew became the third player in team history to eclipse 12,000 all-purpose yards, joining Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith.


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