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Jaguars RB Jones-Drew points finger at himself after loss

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Maurice Jones-Drew stood in front of his locker Monday and took all the blame for Jacksonville's crucial loss at Indianapolis.

The team's season-low 67 yards rushing? His fault.

The two fumbles in the third quarter? Both on him.

The failed short-yardage conversions? His bad.

"You've got to man up," Jones-Drew said. "I didn't play well. Everybody else, guys were doing a great job. I didn't play well at all. There's no sugarcoating it at all."

Jones-Drew finished with 46 yards rushing, ending his streak of 100-yard games at six. It was his worst performance in 10 games against the Colts. He played with a sore right knee but insisted that was no excuse for his struggles.

"I'm not going to blame my knee for how I performed," he said. "I just didn't perform. I hold myself to a higher standard than that. After the game, I pretty much wanted to cry because I felt like I let the team down with two fumbles and not being able to convert on fourth downs, on the goal line, certain things like that. I realize I've got to go back home and fix what I have to fix and get ready to roll for this weekend."

The 34-24 setback was Jacksonville's second loss in seven games and ruined the team's shot at clinching the AFC South. Now, the Jaguars (8-6) need help to avoid missing the playoffs for the ninth time in the last 11 years.

The clearest postseason scenario for Jacksonville is to beat Washington and Houston, and have the Colts lose at Oakland or against Tennessee.

"Oakland is not a team that's a pushover," Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "They're physical, they execute well and they play hard. The Colts got a lot on their hands this week. We're still optimistic about our situation, hoping the cards fall the way we want them to fall."

Jacksonville's best chance probably includes a rapid recovery by Jones-Drew, who injured his knee in a victory against the Raiders and missed two days of practice last week.

"I've got to do whatever I can to get back to help this team to win," he said.

Jacksonville's star player was stopped for no gain on a first-and-goal play in the first quarter, then lost three yards on second down. The Jaguars had to settle for a field goal, failing to get valuable points against one of the league's top scoring teams.

The running game really started to unravel in the second half. Jones-Drew and quarterback David Garrard botched two handoffs to start the third, one on fourth-and-1 at Jacksonville's 39-yard line and the other on a first-down option play. Garrard was credited with both fumbles, but Jones-Drew said they were his fault.

"It was tough," he said. "After watching the tape and seeing how it went down, I've got to be much better than that. I owe it to this team and everyone in this organization to be a better player than that."

Teammates and coach Jack Del Rio shook their heads when told Jones-Drew was shouldering the blame.

"It was definitely not Maurice's fault," Garrard said. "We all had our own individual issues that we messed up in the game. When you have a number of guys collectively making mistakes, then you're going to have those of performances and you're going to miss those opportunities. When you're playing a team like the Colts ... you can't have any slip-ups or any mistakes. You really have to play lights-out football. There's too many times we didn't."

Garrard had a costly interception. Mike Thomas muffed a punt. Offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Jordan Black got beat left and right. Josh Scobee had a poor onside kick that was returned for a touchdown. And the defense gave up 155 rushing yards, including two long runs by Donald Brown.

Del Rio was adamant that there was enough blame to go around.

"We all had opportunities to do things better," he said, adding that Jones-Drew deserves credit for playing through injuries. "He's been banged up a little bit most of the year. I think he's answered the bell all year for us. ... This guy has been a champion all year. I thought he was ready (Sunday).

"It doesn't end up going our way and so that's easy to say now after the fact. He did everything he could to answer for us, to be there in a big moment. I have a lot of respect for that."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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