After muddling through a rain-soaked second half, the Jacksonville Jaguars suddenly turned explosive tonight.
The result, a 27-24 victory over the Denver Broncos that kept the Jaguars (12-1) in control of the race for the home field throughout the AFC playoffs.
Mike Hollis made the game-winning 23-yard field goal as time expired.
Fred Taylor, who entered when James Stewart sprained his foot in the third quarter, had runs of 14 and seven yards to set up the field goal after Dale Carter was hit with a 25-yard pass-interference penalty in single coverage on Jimmy Smith.
Just minutes earlier, Taylor burst through for a 38-yard touchdown run to give the Jaguars a 24-17 lead and the apparent victory.
But Denver (4-9), which had struggled just as mightily as Jacksonville in the driving rain, tied it when Brian Griese hit Byron Chamberlain for a 57-yard touchdown pass against the Jaguars' prevent defense. The tight end caught the ball in front of safety Blaine McElmurry, then bounced off Fernando Bryant and rambled for the tying score.
"There wasn't a lot to it," quarterback Mark Brunell said of the game-winning drive. "It said something about our offense. We just said to each other, 'Let's go win it. The defense has won enough games for us this year. Let's get one for ourselves.' "
The Broncos held Jacksonville without a first down in the third quarter and forged a tie at 17 in the rain going into the final quarter.
Jason Elam kicked a 40-yard field goal for the only points of the third quarter as the Broncos refused to go away.
The Jaguars, who trailed 14-0 after the Broncos first two possessions, scored 17 points in the final 6 minutes 15 seconds of the second quarter and had momentum on their side. But a fumble by Stewart--recovered with a diving catch by all-pro tackle Tony Boselli--stalled the Jaguars and they never recovered.