On a wild Pittsburgh night 10 years ago, Jaguars quarterback David Garrard lined up his team for a critical fourth-and-2 play in the first round of the AFC playoffs.

 

After watching a 28-10 fourth-quarter lead disappear, the Jaguars trailed the Steelers 29-28 with 1:56 to go and had no timeouts remaining. Come up short and the season was finished.

The play-call was a quarterback draw. The result? Maybe the most iconic moment in Jaguars playoff history.

With the Jaguars and Steelers set to meet again Sunday in an AFC Divisional Round game, Garrard and four others who watched his memorable run describe the emotion and execution of the play and the ensuing 31-29 victory.

An incomplete pass by Garrard left the Jaguars facing fourth-and-2 from Pittsburgh’s 43-yard line.

Garrard: “I hadn’t played all that great up to that point, especially in the second half. I was thankful I was in a situation where I still had another chance on that drive, which was pretty much going to be the last drive. For us, I knew we had to make some plays. That’s what was important to me, that I was able to redeem myself for some earlier mishaps. We got down to that fourth-and-2, and I told our offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, ‘I know I can get 2 yards. Just give me a chance. Call a quarterback draw here, and I know I can get it.’ I talked to my offensive line and told them, ‘Hold onto those guys as long as you can. Make some little creases and I will plow forward for 2 yards.’”

Brad Meester, Jaguars center: “Those moments happen so fast sometimes. They come and it’s such a hectic moment. Fourth down and everything is on the line in one play. There’s so many things that can happen, and so many things are going through your head. Steelers fans are going crazy. That defined it all.”

The Jaguars lined up with two receivers to the left and one to the right. Tight end Marcedes Lewis was just off the outside hip of left tackle Khalif Barnes and about 2 yards into the backfield. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew was to the right of Garrard in the shotgun.

Lewis: “I was lead blocking. Dave could run and that was just a designed play. I just remember us needing a first down. Making sure that we got [Steelers safety Troy] Polamalu blocked, and I think we got that done.”

Brian Sexton, the Jaguars’ radio play-by-play voice from 1995-2013: “David’s greatest strength was his ability to improvise with his legs. When he took the snap, you could see right away that the Steelers were thinking the same thing that we were, that they were coming right at him. But he made that move to the outside — then there was the holding call or what someone thought should have been a holding call [on Barnes] — and he got free. Typical David, he was not thinking set up for the field goal and the win. He was thinking score.”

Garrard: “Khalif Barnes was blocking [Steelers edge rusher] James Harrison — there was no hold, of course — and I was able to sneak through his gap. I saw the safety [Tyrone Carter] coming up and just said, ‘OK, I know I’ve got 2 yards, just go ahead and take this hit and just protect the ball.’ I made kind of a little cut on him, and I don’t know how it worked, but it was able to get me past him. I took off thinking, ‘Man, I am about to score right here.’ And then I realized, ‘No I’m not. I’m not that fast.’ I felt him grab my arm, so I just tried to go down and protect the ball.”

The 32-yard run gave the Jaguars first-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 11. Three runs by Jones-Drew (and a penalty for delay of game) later, kicker Josh Scobee was called on for a 25-yard field goal.

Garrard: “We’re well within range for Scobee. At that point, I was like, ‘Scobee, just come out here and do what you’ve got to do.’”

Sexton: “On a cold night with windy conditions, [Garrard] did the absolute right thing and got all the way down to set up a chip-shot 25-yard field goal to win.”

Scobee: “I was literally praying for the offense to get in field goal range. Once David got past the safety, I knew it was going to come down to me to win it. The stadium was the loudest I’ve ever experienced during that kick. The one thing that will stand out to me is how quiet it got right after the kick went in. The only thing I could hear was our sideline screaming.”

After Scobee made the kick with 37 seconds remaining, Jaguars defensive end Bobby McCray forced a fumble by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. That sealed Garrard’s run as a franchise-defining play.

Garrard: “No team had ever gone to Pittsburgh and beat them twice in their place [the Jaguars beat the Steelers 29-22 the previous December] in one season. For us to be able to do that against a team that was a perennial, just always in the playoffs and has won championships … to go in and be able to knock them off and give myself a chance to continue to play in the playoffs and continue to solidify myself as a starting quarterback for this team, those are childhood dreams there that I first had when I was 7 years old.”

Meester: “I grew up a Steelers fan when I was a kid. To be able to go in there in that environment and play and win twice was pretty cool. That was my only playoff win.”

Sexton: “That’s one of those linchpin moments where the tension was the absolute highest. The game was on that play. I think it does resonate with people. … I kept thinking: Here’s your chance to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom they had beaten before but not in Heinz Field in a playoff game against Ben Roethlisberger, who had already won a Super Bowl. You’re going to beat them there if you can get 2 yards against a defense that was as good as any in the NFL. I think everybody in Jacksonville hung on that moment thinking, ‘I think he can do it, but will he?’ And of course, yeah, he did do it — in a big way.”

Phillip Heilman: (904) 359-4063