Players are seeking just the right mood

There's a fine line between being motivated and being too motivated. The Jaguars have lived through the latter. They're trying to perfect the former.

Deep down, Sunday's 37-17 blowout of Houston was an exorcism of an opponent that had dogged the Jags seemingly season after season -- and one that has bitten them repeatedly in recent years.


Next up is a Monday Night Football appearance against AFC South-leading Indianapolis, but the Jags are trying to convince others -- or maybe themselves -- that they won't be M-|ber-motivated against the Colts. Just as they said they weren't overly pumped to face Houston.

"Another bump in the road," DT Marcus Stroud said. "Not to take anything away from anybody, but we're not giving anybody more attention than anyone else.


"We want to avoid that up-and-down roller-coaster. I think we got into that last year. That's where we got into trouble."

The Jags demolished the Colts 44-17 at home to be 8-5 headed into the final three weeks of the season. They lost all three games, two of them on the road, and missed the playoffs.

"That's the difference in this team," LB Mike Peterson said. "We're close in every game. I know, we win next week we could be in first place. And we could run the table. That's all good. But [playing Indy] it's still a game. Approach it the same way."

Meester reaches 109

C Brad Meester's return to the starting lineup against Houston pushed his games-started number to 109, one behind former TE Kyle Brady for fifth on the Jags' all-time list.

It meant that on one side of him he had a guard in Chris Naeole who has started all but one game the past eight years. On the other side he had LG Vince Manuwai, who hasn't missed a start since 2004.

"There's always some rust," said Meester, who had ankle surgery in preseason after getting hurt the first day of training camp and missing the first four games. "It felt weird in that first series a little bit. But once I got in the flow of things, I felt like I hadn't missed a step. It felt like I hadn't missed any time."

His presence alone made his linemen more comfortable.


"I've played 60-something games next to him," Manuwai said. "That's a lot of experience playing together."


Sunday' 457-yard output, the most by the Jags since 2000, pushed them to No. 6 in the NFL in total offense (355.2 ypg). It's the highest average by Jacksonville after five games since 2000. . . . After Tampa Bay backup Bruce Gradkowski threw an interception Sunday, the Jaguars are the only team in the league not to have thrown a pick.